Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Zines the fourth

Wow, been working on this one for a long time. Also have a bunch of books to catch up on, but I don't have any big projects brewing at the moment, so I hope to make some progress in the next two months. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading!

Harlot, RN, by Megan Honor
An interesting zine out of D.C. about what it's like being new at being a nurse, and struggling to balance the desire to care deeply and appropriately for patients (and to respect their autonomy and right to refuse care) against the exigencies of the workplace and the health care business model. Also touches on being queer at work, unionization, and race issues in the workplace.

Broken Hipster #2, by Emiko Badillo
Probably should have started with number one, but this volume happened to come across my desk. A well-written and unflinching look at the life of a younger person (twenty- or thirty-something) with kidney disease, the emotional and practical sides both. Looks as if a transplant is on the horizon, so I'll have to check out volume three.

Urinal Gum, vol. 1 & 3
"The stated purpose of this zine is to enhance others' lives through drivel," according to page 3 of the first volume. It's a total hodgepodge of gross and juvenile humor, and I freakin' love it! The edge of every page includes a bonus piece of "trivia." (Lies, all lies!) Check out the website.

Hey, 4-Eyes! #1, edited and published by Robyn Chapman
This is a real piece of work, in a good way. Top-notch quality materials and crafts-person-ship; a little pocket with a folding paper pair of horn-rim "glasses" (hey, they're paper); and interesting, informative, well-written content all about glasses, people who wear glasses, and the people who love people who wear glasses.
On a side note, this issue of Hey 4-Eyes also inclues a short comic by Alec Longstreth that includes one of the most brilliant visual solutions to expressing a complex idea that I've ever seen. To illustrate how a woman at a party is judging him and his glasses (which actually don't have lenses in them), Longstreth drew her with stare lines from her eyes toward himself and, in a thought bubble over her head, a tiny photo of him being inserted into a file marked "nerds." Just had to share that.

Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia, by Maria Sputnik
Among the best nonfiction zines I've ever read. Informative, insightful, intelligent, a little bit playful, and not suffering from the unfortunately poor grammar that ruins some nonfic zines. And for once I actually feel as if I understand one of those "ethnic conflicts" in a part of the world that seems to have nothing but ethnic conflicts. You, too, can understand 21st century geopolitics!

Syndicate Product, Issue 12.0, May 2007, Year of the Pack Rat, by A.J. Michel
Nice compilation zine with people's stories about hoarding behavior. We all do it at one time or another, so it's nice to hear about other people's inability to throw away childhood toys, for example, or their propensity to pick up and keep all sort of odds and ends. On a completely personal note, I was thrilled that one submission from a guy who lives in Lutherville, Md., makes reference to a store called Two Guys, a sort of local off-brand Kmart or something, from the days before everything merged with everything, that I remember from my childhood.

Really Gay!, by Erinfection
Nevermind the author's name is a little bit icky sounding, this is an interesting zine created as a thesis project examining the role — the success and/or failure, really — of zines in forging a sense of community among otherwise isolated queer folk, and how the very notion of creating community (assuming zines or zinesters could or would do that) is somewhat at odds with the DIY ethos.

Famous Whales, by Erinfection
OK, on this one I totally didn't even think about the author's name. Kind of funny brief stories about famous and infamous whales, such as Shamu, Willy, Keiko... Too short though, could have used some more arcana, or expand the defintion of "whale" to bring in more and different stories, so maybe there'd be something I didn't already know.

How to Be a Good Library Patron; How to Be a Bad Library Patron, compiled by Jerianne Thompson
Like the state of Virginia, this zine is for lovers — of libraries, that is. Library workers especially, and anyone well-acquainted with their local public library, will enjoy this tiny collection of words and micro-comics addressing a variety of desireable and not so desireable behaviors to endear yourself to, or make an enemy of, library staff. Includes contributions from two of my all-time favorite zinesters, Androo Robinson (of Portland) and Kelly Froh (of Seattle).

Reincarnalators : a Sci-fi Homo-erotic Love Story that Bursts the Threshold of Time and Passion, by Taylor Grenfell, et al.
There isn't a lot to say that isn't already in the title, except to add that this heavily illustrated (though slightly different from a mini-comic) zine is freakin' awesome. With prehistoric female sluts reincarnated as gay lovers in Antarctica, how could it not be awesome? Really imaginative story, well written with good pics, all around high quality.

I Still Live: Biography of a Spiritualist, by Annie Murphy
Absolutely, hands-down, no doubt one of the most beautiful zines I've ever seen. Aside from the stunning black-and-white watercolor-ish (?) gorgeousness, it also is an extremely well-researched and fascinating biography of 19th century American spiritualist Achsa Sprague, who not only communicated with the spirit world but also rubbed elbows with some mighty famous people.

Last Legs, by J. Dives
I don't seem to remember much about "The Grandpa Issue" — but I know it was reasonably enjoyable. Two things about "The Diary Issue" impressed me enough that I made notes: there were pictures of Dylan and Brandon from Beverly Hills: 90210, and some of the misspellings, straight out of the author's teenage diary, were hilarious. Both of these are short but very nice.

Doris #25, Questions, by Cindy Crabb
It might not be fair to judge this long-running series by this issue, since it's a compilation of responses to questions submitted by readers during the many years the author has been publishing this much-loved perzine. I'm also working on knowing when to keep my mouth shut, so maybe I'll just say that, if I had to choose one word to describe this zine and its author, that word would be "fraught."

You Ruined Everything, by Greg Means
Created as part of an online "100 Themes" challenge, this sort-of mini-comic doesn't have a single narrative thread. The same two simply but uniquely drawn characters appear in each of the 100 illustrations, however, so there is a sense of continuity and a general drift of character development, as well as an exploration of the characters' intimate relationship with one another. Surprisingly complex, now I think about it, given the format.

Jin & Jam, no. 1, by Hellen Jo
Well-made mini-comic about feisty, funky Korean teens raising hell when their parents no doubt think they should be at school or in church. The story's a bit aimless, but it could go somewhere if the author takes it there. My affection for it is probably colored by my personal affection for a particular feisty, funky Korean I've known for 18 years.

600 Rubles, by Jennifer Manriquez
Cheerleading, drumlines and African American step-dancing have had their movies, their fish-out-of-water/against-the-odds/overcoming-prejudice/star-crossed-lovers tales of redemption, their moments in the spotlight. If anyone ever decides to give the same treatment to the hidden underbelly of high-stakes intercollegiate high-step dance teams, this zine would be a good place to start. The story is tragic, but somehow maintains a sense of humor at the surreality of it all. Who knew there were scholarships on the line, callous coaches and treacherous teammates hidden beneath the veneer of sequins and smiles?

Ochre Ellipse, by Jonas Madden-Connor
I guess I read the first volume. I don't remember that much about the story in this mini-comic, something about a guy who has a crush on a grocery store clerk, and they maybe go on a date, or maybe he just fantasizes or dreams the date? I do remember thinking it was really cool and unusual the way the word bubbles were angled along the same perspective lines as the background objects in the drawing. I'm kinda curious to see where this series is going... there's at least one more volume, maybe more than that.

Rabbit Shadows, by Jason Viola
A very interesting wordless comic that explores what it means to be an artist while critiquing the commercialization and commodification of the art market, in particular the tension between the pressure, on the one hand, to reproduce successful work — to the point that it's no longer successful in the marketplace — and the desire, on the other hand, to grow and develop as an artist. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

Destination D.I.Y. #3, by Julie Sabatier
A companion zine to the now defunct (I think) KBOO-FM radio program of the same name. Topics in this issue include home birth, home brewing and alternative funerals, but far and away the best part of this issue is the transcript of an oddly hilarious conversation the host had with the "artist" who chained little plastic horses to the the metal rings embedded in some sidewalk curbs a couple years ago. Podcasts of the show are, I believe, available at DestinationDIY.org.

My Date with Sam Adams: A Kiss and Yell Memoir, by Tod
Waited a long time to get a look at this zine, and I was a tad disappointed to learn that "Tod" is actually a female who went on a date with our illustrious mayor when he was quite a bit younger and still pretending to be hetero. Once I read it, though, that didn't matter; it's just a weird funny story, well-told, that happens to involve someone who happens to have become famous. (For the record, I would totally do — I mean, date — Sam in a heartbeat.)

Bicycle Propaganda, by Tom Lechner
Single-panel, wordless, very creative political cartoons in tune with bike-riding advocacy and activism. Maybe some day bikes will outnumber cars, but for the time being I'm still a whimp about biking in the rain and cold.

Dream Date, by Chelsea Martin
This author's zines are hard to get, but you can try ordering from her website. This is basically a list of "dream date" scenarios, but with a very sick and twisted (in a good, funny way) idea of romance. She also has a book, Everything Was Fine Until Whatever, which includes the text of her other zine, the one that made me fall in love with her, called I $ You, which is even sicker and funnier than this one. Absolutely, definitely not for the squeamish or easily-offended, but if you like dead baby jokes, give it a shot.

American Gun Culture Report, Issue #3, Summer 2008, edited by Ross Eliot
Now, for the most part I think guns are scary and bad, at least superficially, and I usually assume people who are really into guns are creepy and possibly crazy. On the other hand, when a friend of mine offered to let me shoot his handgun, I got excited and demanded to shoot at a silhouette of a person instead of a plain old circular target. From what I can tell based on reading one issue, AGCR does a good job of representing and exploring the views of regular people who own guns and have strong feelings about them but aren't Charlton Heston–worshipping 2nd Amendment whackos with Confederate flags on their trucks. And it might behoove you to try to understand these folks, since they could be your neighbors; if not, consider it a glimpse into an under-represented subculture that's very much part of American society.

Now We Are Friends, by Brodie Kelly
A jumbly yet well-rounded travelogue of sorts about the sights, sounds, smells and people encountered on a honeymoon trip to Argentina. Excellent interweaving of words and illustrations. Tiny and wonderful.

The Woodsmen, Winter 2005, by Justin Morrison
I once saw a bumpersticker that said "Earth First — we'll log the other planets later." Regardless of the current state of our forests and the "forest products industry," it's difficult to fathom the thinking of old-timey loggers who didn't think twice about cutting down huge, ancient trees that you'd think would leave most people awestruck. This zine, the result of research at the Oregon Historical Society, asks you to suspend your judgment of their motives or lack of environmental awareness so that you can try to appreciate the dangers they faced, the hardships they endured, and the enormity of their accomplishments (again, withholding value judgments). Hindsight is sort of a cliché, yet we frequently forget that we might not be here if it weren't for the mistakes of the past.

F-Bomb #3, July/August 2009, the Music Issue, edited by Christina Wheeler
Didn't really get into this Tacoma-based anthology, but it does have an interesting article about Youtube-ing that references a documentary about an incestuous clan of hillbillies. Comes with a CD, which is always a nice touch.

Seafood, by Josh Frankel
Another beautiful, evocative, wordless (OK, there is an epilogue) comic from author-illustrator Josh Frankel, this time following a yellowfin tuna in its natural environment and exploring the harsh realities of its very unnatural demise on its way to the supermarket shelf.

Bird Hurdler, various authors
Another nice Free Comics Day anthology from the folks at Tugboat Press/Sparkplug Comic Books/Teenage Dinosaur. My favorite entry is Lisa Eisenberg's story of a cat telling his cat buddies about his amazing Thanksgiving meal of warm turkey giblets.

1 comment:

Dana said...

I'm glad you liked The Reincarnalators. My name is Dana and I drew the pictures. It was more of an inside joke/private project but since Taylor decided to sell it to Powells it has unleashed it's awesome fury upon the world. Taylor and I have one other completed project "Why Vampires hate Crucifixes" starring Jesus and some more in the works if anyone is interested.