Thursday, September 30, 2010

A fifth of zines

At Home on the Earth, by Brian Oaster
This mini-comic presents a tragic you-can't-go-home-again tale of interstellar/time travel and environmental forewarning — sounds as if it's sad, but both the story and the drawing style offer hope in the form of childlike innocence and optimism.

Paper Birds: Styrofoam Flowers, by Christopher Brandon Arendt
Recollections and political musings from a former Guantanamo guard, unfortunately (or is it mercifully?) sketchy but still provocative.

Cool Things About My Exes that Mean Nothing, by Becky Morton and friends
Being a four-letter word, I suppose "cool" can mean weird, awesome, tragic, unique, embarrassing, horrible, special.... and anyway, whether good, bad or ugly, the cavalcade of former lovers is always a comedy goldmine.

Brazilianoir, by Emily Stackhouse and Nicholas Shahan
Stolen camera, trans-Atlantic cruise, spies and sex-pots. I think this is only the beginning of a longer story, which leaves it feeling too sketchy, but there's potential for something solid to develop.

Two Truths in Food Presents: A Double Scoop of Mendacity, by David Beller
A collection of real news articles about food and the food industry — some disgusting, some sad, some infuriating, all outrageous — that you'll have to pretend aren't true in order to eat anything ever again.

Ilse Content #7, by Alexis Wolf
Read these stories about oddball relatives, and you'll feel like part of the family. Great writing and presentation give it that je ne sais quois of engaging perzines and memoirs.

Diary of a Metal Girl: selected writings & illustrations, 1985-1989, by Jen Sbragia
You don't have to have a head-banging past to appreciate these selected journal entries. Big hair, loud music and tight acid-wash jeans are just the particulars that spice up this universal tale of teen angst and self-discovery, dotted with moments of hilarity. Heavy metal meets John Hughes?

Intrepid Girl Reporter, by Jessica Abel
It's a darn good thing the drawing is precise, because this mini-comic is dense as hell. Lots of words and tiny but well-detailed illustrations about the author's endeavors in journalism.

I Like Girls, by Erika Moen
I recall this being a fairly cute coming-out story about a baby-dyke finding the courage to tell her mom she has a girlfriend. And her brother turns out gay too, I think.

Picaresque #9, by Brendan Rocks
Despite some pagination issues, I really enjoyed this laugh-out-loud funny piece of work, which is a collection of vignettes about people and events from back in the day, high school or middle school or whatever, that are hilarious even though you don't know the people in them.

Black Giraffe #2, by Brandon Freels
A surreal anarcho-Communist art/dream manifesto? While not totally inscrutable, it's definitely hard to pin down, but at least it's short.

In the Tall Grass #3, by Tessa Brunton
An unmemorable (for me) collection of autobiographical girly comics. Not girly in a bad way, just very gynocentric (not in an anatomical way).

Make Something! an Anthology of Portland Zinesters, edited by Greig Means
Not just a zinesters mecca, Portland is D.I.Y.-to-die-for as well, and this compilation is the natural result. At the moment, I can't remember any of the specific projects, but I kinda remember being jazzed about D.I.'ing some things myself.

Nine Gallons: True Stories, by Susie Cagel
A comic about the author's experience working with Food Not Bombs, with some background info about the organization on the last page. I had some friends who were into the group, and we all jokingly called it Food Not Flies.

Sing Along Forever: a love letter to the Bouncing Souls, by Liz Baillie
Liz's enthusiasm is infectious, making it irrelevant that you might have no idea who the Bouncing Souls are. For me, personally, it also helped that in the grainy, photocopied black-and-white photos, band member Bryan is possibly hot.

Tales of Blarg! #9, by Janelle Hessig
Comix, notes, stories, doodles and other punk weirdness and awesomeness, with really great chapter headings, such as "Ugly people I wanna do it to", "Hipster vs. crusty", and "A pig in shit (a guide to good stuff)". Very fun and entertaining.

Burn Collector#13, by Al Burian
This classic perzine has moments of real eloquence: "the Italians look to the ruins, shrug their shoulders, and recognize Berlusconi as a blip on the screen. He'll be gone soon. Nero was worse." On the other hand, the author is anti-capitalist/globalism but flies (guiltily) to Europe; and he references Guy de Bord, but at times sounds rather Randian. There's also a nice riff on "life is art," so what the hell is reality TV?

The CIA makes science fiction unexciting. #2 : chemical biological weapons, CIA documents about the AIDS virus, & "cures" killing faster than AIDS!
This is part of a series of "CIA makes..." zines put out by Microcosm Publishing. I haven't read the others closely enough to question their factual foundations, but, though I was wary of this one at first, I was willing to give it a chance. I mean, cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs is a valid viewpoint, right? It's got some editing issues and definite conspiracy bent, but it's not as bad as some stuff I've read about HIV, not quite outright lies, just the usual paranoid connecting of dots that aren't related, leaping to conclusions and filling in gaps with wild surmises. Questioning the official narrative is fine, but there's real danger and lives on the line, so tread carefully.

Cometbus #53, by Aaron Cometbus
Cometbus is a classic for sure. It's so hard to describe what makes a good perzine... some writers are just good writers and it's a pleasure to read anything they write, and some people have a way of making you feel close even though you've never met.

The Indifference of Places, by Carolee Gilligan Wheeler
As I age, travel loses some of its appeal — unless I can stay in a fancy hotel. But anyone can relate to this recounting of a trip to/from hell. Bad weather, weird food, the whole nine.

Welcome to Bend #1, by Laura Walker
A precious little illustrated zine, gloriously oddly constructed, with tidbits and triva about that surprising big city-town in the middle of our lovely state.

Sadist Science Teacher, by Kelly Froh
I love Kelly's comics of oddballs and misfits (often family members), but this one felt a little subpar. Oh, well, can't be full-force all the time.

Publick Occurances #12, by Danny Martin
A tiny zine with tiny, heavily inked, almost lino-cut or block-print looking portraits of many heavy metal superstars. Hard to explain, but I could stare at it for ages and ages! Especially impressive is the artist's talent drawing hair, which is well-exercised with these musicians. It was also fun guessing who they are and checking with the answer-key in the back.

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