Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zine Round-up à trois

This is totally out of control, because all the while I've been trying to finish this post, I've been reading more zines on my lunch breaks. Won't somebody think of the children?!

Dealing with Difficult People, by S.K.L.(?)
Mostly funny stories — some from e-mails, Craigslist, and such — about interactions with the annoying people in our lives: cheap landlords, annoying and/or mentally ill co-workers, frenemies... the list goes on. I had a laugh-out-loud moment in a quiet restaurant while reading a story from a young woman who had tried to confront the neighbor she thought tattled on her for slamming doors: when she says "We're considerate of other people," he replies, "Then why do you wear your hair like that?"

Secret Mystery Love Shoes #5 and #6, by Maria Goodman and Androo Robinson
Very cute size-wise, and the humor is pretty cute and sassy too. If you opened a drawer labeled "odds and ends" and found an envelope labeled "miscellany," these zines might be inside. They exemplify the way details add up to a whole life, and they are a laugh riot to boot. Reading them will really make you want to invite Androo and Maria over for a game of Boggle.

Zuzu and the Baby Catcher, by Rhonda Baker
If you know me, you know I'm not a big fan of babies (except for eating babies, and making funny faces at babies, and mock-crying back at them when they cry). But I read this whole mommy-zine anyway, and it's pretty interesting. I imagine mommies would really like it. The author is also a doula or midwife (don't recall), and she chose to end this issue (no. 8 or 9, don't remember) with a reference that has seared an image into my brain forevermore. I don't want to do the same to you, so I'll just say, "Taint what it used to be".

Flytrap: Episode 1, Juggling Act, by Sara Ryan and Steve Lieber
Don't let the "Episode 1" fool you — you're getting dropped right into the middle of a story-in-progress. Kinda cryptic at first, and then it kills you by being so darn short. Clever, they are, because you will read more episodes; yes, you will.

Estrus Comics, Issue 5, Kiss & Tell, by Mari N. Schaal
As a boy, as a gay boy, I have to admit a slight aversion to the word "estrus" and things related. Luckily, these sex-related comics are friendly, funny, and approachable for the whole gender spectrum. I can't speak to other issues of Estrus Comics, but this one at least doesn't have a major feminist agenda.

Shorts, by Emily Block
Cute and doodle-y mini-comics featuring a bit of parkour (if you don't know what it is, look it up on the YouTubes, it's ridonkulous), and a Kill Bill-style murderous daydream.

Subgroup Cursive: the older sibling of Dusty Wing, Spring 2006, edited by Tod
Sweet little anthology of art, activities, and stories by, for, and about younger teens. Also for cool parents who want their kids to be cool too. Zine for this age group are pretty rare, in my experience.

The Heart Star, by Christoph Meyer
Precious, tiny, sentimental story of love, death, ghosts, and the cosmos. From the creator of 28 Pages Lovingly Bound with Twine.

How to Survive Heartbreak, by Michael Lee Cook
Breaking up is hard to do, laughter is the best medicine, the personal is political: this zine could be a mess of clichés, but the superb writing and illustrations lift it above all that. It begins with the dumpee's self-deprecating humor and sly innuendos about the dumper's character flaws, but then it does attempt to offer some earnest advice, before hitting you with the heavy existential crisis — an emotional roller-coaster in just a few thousand words. The illustrations, which I think were done by the author's brother, are of people with blank faces, only eyebrows to convey the range of emotions; it'll give you a new respect for your own eyebrows.

BFX, by Nate Beaty
It took me a while to figure out that the title is short for Brainfag 10; then it took another while for me to realize its relation to BFF, which is Brainfag Forever, and which my library has catalogued as a graphic novel rather than a zine (which happens sometimes to compilations of zines into a single volume); then I had to realize it's "fag" as in "fatigue" and not a gay thing. Anyway, brain fatigue is just what it sounds like, and I totally have it today, which is the excuse I'm going to use for not remembering much about this auto-bio mini-comic, which I'm sure is quite good. ... Actually, I just peeped the review from Booklist, and it jogged my memory! It really is good, and to the (debatable) extent that any zine can be considered a classic, this is for sure.

Some/Body, by Amaris Summer Jule Hayden
A zine in two parts: Chapter 1, Diagnosis; and Chapter 2, Denial. Also goes by the name Patient Files Confidential, and their covers are little file folders just like at the doctor's office. Pretty heavy stuff in here, about a woman's serious and potentially (probably, eventually) life-ending medical condition, her efforts to deal with it, and her worries about her kid's future without her.

The La-la Theory! Or a zine about language #2, by Katie Haegele
Man, what's with the zines with the super-long names? This one's title continues "February 2005, Fancy word for widow". (To some extent, lengthy titles result from a culture clash between library cataloguing practices and the free-form creative zine ethos.) In any case, linguistics is one of the things I kind of nerd-out about, so I really dug this one's multidisciplinary approach to it's subject. I even read it twice, because it had information I wanted to commit to memory: I learned about suttee, a dreadful fate that awaits some widows in India; and I learned that veuve, as in Veuve Clicquot champagne, is the French word for widow.

DAR: a super girly top secret comic diary, #1
Girlfuck: an introduction to girl-on-girl lovin'
I Like Girls, by Erika Moen
If that lovable Belgian reporter Tin-Tin were a lesbian... wait, he kind of is, isn't he? Anyway, it's just the shampoo-horn hairdo and being comics that they have in common. Girlfuck is quite informative and not nearly as icky (for gay boys) as it could be; the other two are more story-oriented. The best thing about all of them is their absolute candor and naughtiness and humor. Oh, and butt-sex jokes — what's funnier than butt sex?

Ivy, chapters 1 and 2, by Sarah Oleksyk
No idea if these mini-comics are autobiographical, or even semi-, but they're darn good. Really nice illustration style, bold and clear but also dynamic and nicely detailed; and a true-to-life storyline about a young woman on the verge of post-high school life. The author/artist also makes really awesome prints that she sells on her website. I'm totally in love with the "Otter Erotic" print, but it's kinda expensive; it would make a very nice present to give to a certain blogger whose birthday is August 1st.

There's No Such Thing as a Free Couch, by Katie C. and Nickey Robo
Put an ad on Craigslist offering a free couch, and you'll get a lot of responses. Now make it a couch with an unpleasant history, and let the jokes write themselves! Well, actually, weirdos willing to live with a haunted and/or soiled and/or louse-y couch will write e-mails that read like jokes. Next, post a personal ad from a woman who's openly bitchy and looking for a man she can emasculate and dominate: hilarity ensues. Nickey Robo also wrote a cute little thang called My Heart Beats Only for You and a Few Dozen Other People: A Zine About Crushes.

Listy and Listy 2, by Maria Goodman
Speaking of crushes, if I weren't a homo, I'd have a crush on Maria. As it is, I have a crush on her sense of humor. A variety of lists and list-related commentary is to be found in these zines, along with reviews of found lists. There's a book called Milk, Eggs, Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found that sort of stole the idea — at least, I'm choosing to give Maria credit for inventing the concept because she does it better. The book is big and splashy, but it mostly just mocks the lists and list-makers; Listy is more analytical, almost scholarly at times, without sacrificing the funniness.

Deep Cuts: Comix About Jamz
Noise Art?!
True Tales of Actual Birds, Issue #1
by Actual Birds
I'm not sure how much of it is just the weird appeal of the name "Actual Birds," but I really enjoyed these wee comics. Two of them are seriously wee, bordering on ephemera (another magnetic word), and at least one doesn't even really have pages per se. I also don't know if there's a bird equivalent of a furry (feathery?), but I also have a strange attraction to the drawings of the guy with a human body and a bird's head.

Former Fetus, by Emily
A nakedly honest account of getting pregnant and getting an abortion, this would be a good recommendation for female teens, but anyone who reads it will feel its impact. I could see it being used in educational or counseling settings, but casual readers will probably find fuel for their own inner discussions.

Adventures in Service!, by Matt Fagan
"Featuring Hobbeson and Chives — crimefighting butlers in love and battle!" The author of this mini-comic explains that these are two orphan characters that he's played with for years, drawing single panels and short story fragments, but never turned into a bigger project. It's a shame, because I for one would like to read a longer story about these charming manservants of justice. (I'd also appreciate more opportunities to use the word "manservant.")

Wendy magazine #12, by Wendy and Wendy
This is a zine made by two Wendy's. (My friend from Ohio, who went to the same high school as the girl after whom the fast food chain is named, says that in those parts they say it more like "windy".) I've never seen any other issues, but this one's pretty good. They collected people's answers to the question "What haven't you told your mother?" and then provided complementary illustrations, collages, etc. Gives you the same voyeuristic thrill you get from Post Secret (website and book), along with the satisfaction of handicraft that comes with reading a zine.

What did you buy today? : Daily Drawings of Purchases, volume 3, April 2006, by Kate Bingaman-Burt
There's something really Buddhist and anti-consumerist about this, even though it's all about buying stuff — well, stuff that's already been boughten. The author makes nicely detailed drawings of something she buys each day. It's a glimpse into the everyday life of another person, and also prompts a pause for the viewer to think about all the things s/he buys (and maybe doesn't need, so the subtext seems to be.) She's also, according to the colophon, drawing copies of her credit card statements until they're paid off, which sounds like a punishment; if nothing else, it'll reduce the amount of time she has to spend more money.

Where are you from?, by A.M. O'Malley
While chronicling a childhood in many places and remembering a mother with a wandering heart, the author explores what "home" means. Well-written and very interesting, especially for someone like myself, who's only made one major change of address in 35 years.

Imaginary Life #4, Current Resident, by Krissy Durden
A great concept, and well-executed. (Don't you hate those amazing ideas that don't pan out?) It's like that game of making up stories about strangers, except using houses for the starting point and imaging stuff about the people who might live there. In a way, it's connected to the thesis of The Architecture of Happiness, which I wrote about here.

Urban Adventure League Zine Pack: Collecting the previous issues: bicycle rides and walks in Portland, by Shawn Granton
When the weather's nice, I always think about going for a walk or a bike ride, but if I don't have any errands to run it can be hard to figure out where to go. This awesome little thing saves the day! It's pocket-size, it has fold-out maps! Places to go, things to see along the way, and illustrations!

Papercutter: issue 7
Every Papercutter I've seen has been top-notch, inside and out, story and art. This one has work by Andy Hartzell and Aron Nels Steinke, and an M.K. Reed/Jonathan Hill collabo. "Americus" by Reed and Hill is a poignant middle school story of fading friendships and shifting loyalties; it also has an amazing line (spoken by a bully) that I think would make a great T-shirt: Ha! Books are totally queer!

All the Ancient Kings, by Julia Gfrörer
Imagined interactions among musicians and artists famous for their substance abuse as much as for their art, including Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Great little comics, painstakingly (I'm guessing) and tinily (tiny-ly?) drawn.

Action Bookbinding!, by Skylaar Amann
A little bit hip hop, a little bit book nerd: this celebration of the craft won't exactly teach you to bind your own books, but it has illustrations and a dorky bespectacled white guy rapping. It's a real hoot. Wheat paste, yo!

Sidewalk Bump #2
Just like the first Sidewalk Bump, this one has a be-yoo-tee-full colored cover. Inside, there's a bunch of cool comics and art, by various artists, about skateboarding and the skater life.

Tales from the Bus: from the pages of Manuscripts Don't Burn, by Dr. Daniel Q. Swank
When she came to visit me a couple years ago, I had to work one day so I put my sister — all 5 feet and 100 pounds of her — on her very first public bus ride. She missed the stop and, not really understanding how buses work, tried to stay on the bus until it "looped around" so she could get off next time around. The bus she was on is not that kind of bus; it took her very far away, where she was made to get off and board another bus going back the opposite direction. Somewhere along the way, a gigantic fat person sat on her and didn't even hear her meekly saying "excuse me"; someone else on the bus had to intervene and tell the fatty "I think you're sitting on someone." That story pales in comparison to some of the most hilarious tales in this collection of crazy-but-true shit that went down on the bus during the author's workaday commute. Seriously. Funny. Shit.

Crazy with Good Intentions: too much & never enough; a personal zine, by Wyatt Riot
Reading a perzine can be rather dicey. When it's good, it's really good, like talking to an old friend; when it's bad, it's like the worst of the worst "reality" TV. Even though it's a hodgepodge of think-out-loud, this one works. The author (points for the name, BTW) is clearly intelligent and thoughtful, and has some interesting ideas that are made even more interesting by unpretentious postmodern punctuation and formatting.

The Penny Dreadful #. 19: The Last Days, by Mark Russell
Not as funny as the other issue of The Penny Dreadful that I read, and nowhere near as funny as The Superman Stories, but I definitely got a few chuckles from this vaudevillian zine. (That's "vaudeville" as in "variety," not as in "old-fashioned," although the title is a nod to the olden days.)

Nosedive, Lucky #13, by Erik R.
I have to admit that I only skimmed this one. At the risk of undermining my zine cred, I was kind of turned off by the angsty-punk, self-righteous, anti-gentrification thing. I mean, yeah, gentrification sucks (basically; the devil's in the details), but a certain amount of it is inevitable, and now that I'm over 30 I've given up trying to fix the world. Anyway, just not my cup of tea, so my thumbs down should be taken with a grain of salt.

Fuzzy Lunchbox, #11 and #12, by Laura and Deborah Nadel
Reading these zines is like telling stories with friends over drinks, especially since a lot of the stories are drinking stories. In addition to some laugh-out-loud moments, you'll also enjoy the clashing and meshing of the different voices and styles of the two authors, who are twins. Bad grammar and misspellings usually irritate me, but in this case the lack of spell-checking by one of the authors only adds to the funniness; it probably helps that the other doesn't seem to need spell check.

Water Column, by Josh Frankel
Gorgeous wordless (except few paragraphs at the very end) comic about the oceanic food chain, from plankton through copepods all the way to giant basking sharks. I'd love to know about the artist's technique, they almost look like wood- or linocuts. He also did a very sad, and also wordless, comic called Twilight of the Sea Cow, about the hunting to extinction of a giant sea mammal. On a barely-related note, I'd also like to plug the locally produced and utterly fascinating documentary film Crustaceans Alive Through a Microscope, filmed, edited and narrated by Warren A. Hatch.

I Was a Teenage Comic Nerd, by Liz Prince
I recognize the name, like she's, like, famous or something. I don't think I've read any of her stuff before, but I like her style. This collection is odds and ends from her younger years, short little auto-bio or semi-auto-bio vignettes. Her drawing style is cute, it reminds me of Powerpuff Girls but with long, stretchy limbs and normal-size heads.

Manhole #3, by Mardou
If this were any longer it would have to be called a Graphic Novel rather than a comic. Well-drawn and well-paced, it's a melancholy tale of young womens' friendship and how, when life changes, friendships fade.

What Are Crass?, by Sean Christensen et al.
Truly bizarre, and I'm certain the author would take that as a compliment without having to be told it's a compliment. Short comics about weird creatures in a weird world doing weird stuff. No other way to describe it.

I Cut My Hair #1, by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg
Every time I try to think of or type this person's name, it comes out Lisa Marie, as in Presley — and for that I apologize, to no one in particular. Pleasingly drawn journal comics about working in the education system and about the creative process, and by a local author to boot. Shout out to Open Meadow!

As Eavesdropped #2, by Suzanne Baumann
Very short, very random, chuckle-inducing comics. My only complaint is, I want more! Sometimes I love the shortness of mini-comics and other zines, sometimes it's frustrating as heck. Whatcha gonna do?

White Male Neurosis, by James Williams
This guy has a unique-ish drawing style... I haven't seen many zines with a similar look, but it does kind of remind me of Lynda Barry in some ways. (I'd say there's R. Crumb influence, but how could there not be? It's like saying a band is influenced by the Beatles — duh!) But anyway, what I really like about this zine is the subject: it's about the author as a kid and how he built a wall of cereal boxes around himself because he couldn't stand the sight or sound of his family chewing. I myself have a powerful, rage-inspiring aversion to chewing sounds; if I ever go postal, it'll probably be the result of someone eating noisily. I know, it's a "First World crisis," not important in the larger scheme of things, compared to people who don't even have any thing to chew, noisily or quietly, but we all have our little issues. What's yours?

Squirrelly #1, by Sue Cargill
A really fantastic and inspiring collection of painfully detailed drawings and short, surreal stories on a variety of topics, but still thematically tight. All the stories deal with something or someone squirrelly (in the figurative sense), even the one that's about lobsters. Truly one of the best zines I've ever read, it made me wheeze with laughter.

1 comment:

wyatt riot said...

thanks for making me smile. <3

-wyatt riot