Zine Reviews

CAKE & COMIX #2: SHORT STORIES, ?$, 4¼” x 5½”, 12 pgs.

I thought I hated poetry and then I read this. It’s a collection of vignettes and flickers of the past. Arranged from beauty to pain, contrasting and amazement with damage and hurt, this zine gives the reader snapshots of a life experienced. It’s as if I were flipping through Polaroids taken fleetingly in the moment, yet instead of reading the thousand words weighted in a photograph, I get a peek into the emotional state of the documentarian. Each passage, regardless of length, took me to a moment in time and shared the feelings and observations of the writer without a need for context or backstory. Were this two-dimensional graphic art, this zine would serve as an illustrator’s sketch book, yet the thoughts are expertly fleshed out. The author plays with their words like a child with its food and manages to turn the mundane into something appetizing. I find this work endlessly impressive, masterful, and brilliant. Creative writing at its best wonder. No piece is longer than a few hundred words, but it leaves me satiated each time. It feels like pillow talk with a partner you’re in love with who answers emotionally and honestly to the question, “What are you thinking?” Definitely worth seeking out. –Kayla Greet (Cake & Comics, mmmmatranga@gmail.com)

DIARO #5 / ROMANCERO HINCHADO #3, $?, 5½” x 8½”, 14 pgs.

Mari Santa Cruz and Ana Ortiz Valera are Latinx writers who help organize la Liga, a digital art zine of sorts, and this is their split zine. Cruz’s side features a series of prose poems printed over pictures of home, family photos, and line drawings. Valera’s romanceros, or folk ballads, are surrounded by collaged photo cutouts and address varied topics—the Virgin Mary, Valera as a young girl, and the United States. Mari Santa Cruz’s voice is driving. In Diaro, Cruz writes “TO UNDERSTAND MY MOTHER IS TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF. TO UNDERSTAND MY MOTHER’S BEHAVIOR INFORMED MY GRANDMOTHER’S ACTIONS IS TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF [AND] TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT THAT GENERATED [THEM] MAKES ME […] HEAL, FORGIVE AND IMPROVE.” Conversely, Ana Ortiz Valera’s poems in Romancero Hinchado are a little more winding and textured: “Virgencita, tu alguna vez te perdiste?” begins one. “La mía no se perdio, a mi me la arrancaron. Ese dia que maldeci mis partes rosas; el dia que dejaron de sentirse honestas y se hicieron sal.”* The combined effect makes for a good poetry zine. Check out the digital component, la Liga, to see what else these writers are up to. *(My dumpy translation: “Virgencita, did you ever get lost? / I didn’t get lost, I got ripped off. / That day I cursed my pink parts; / The day they stopped feeling honest and made salt.”) –Jim Joyce (laligazine.com, anaortizvarela@gmail.com)

DITHERING DOODLES #42, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 31 pgs.

This is a zine full of artistic renderings of VHS covers. Some illustrations are from actual movies rescued from a long-closed video store and some are imagined. For fans of good and bad art, as in good drawings and schlock movies. –Craven Rock (premiumdeluxe@hotmail.com)

FLUKE #14, $6, 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 46 pgs.

Part two of the look back at Little Rock, Ark., punk history from the 1980s into the early 1990s. This issue is made up of show flyers, printed full page, featuring local and touring bands that played one location, 7th and Chester, which changed names over the years. Some of the bands that appear on the flyers are Fugazi, All, Holy Rollers, Flaming Lips, Green Day, Chino Horde, Trusty, and Econochrist. The intro includes a newspaper clipping of the audience at a Black Flag show (apparently, the famous “Peach” from the Rollins spoken word Big Ugly Mouth set in the photo). I’m always interested in the histories of local scenes, especially the scenes that were not as high profile as California or New York. I’m hoping Matt will uncover more Little Rock punk history in issues to come. I’m pretty sure there were bands happening prior to the era he covers. (Russell Love from NOTA was from there and Econochrist were from there before moving to the East Bay at the end of the 1980s, so there has to be more). –Matt Average (PO Box 1547, Phoenix, AZ 85001)

FLUORAZINE #1, free, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 24 pgs.

Zine done from someone incarcerated, which means resources were pretty limited. So you’ve got a lot of cut and past collage work and a few song lyrics, comics, and mini-essays all written in ballpoint pen. All told, it comes across as that very familiar first issue that many of us have put out in our experiments with zines. Like most first issues, it’s super thin on content, and I’d really urge the author to spend some time drumming up some solid stuff, be it art, essays, whatever. As someone in the prison system, he’s in a unique position to inform a ton of us about something that I’m personally pretty ignorant of, but would really be interested in learning more about. But hey, collages are cool, too. Here’s hoping he sticks with it. –Keith Rosson (Kristopher Storey, 26731-018 FMC, PO Box 14500, Lexington, KY 40512)

FUCK TRUMP CLUB #3, 11” x 14”, $6 for monthly newsletters, one sheet, copied, 2 pgs.

A newsletter dedicated to sticking it to the fascist Cheeto and his covfefe (Hah, just trying to be the first to say it in a zine!). The brevity of it won’t get you a lot of in-depth critique, but I think the point is to remind you to stay vigilant and to keep fighting. Six bucks gets you in the Fuck Trump Club and you’ll get one of these every month. Well worth it if you ask me. One thing: I hope they keep pictures of his horrible, smug face to a minimum (there was only one behind a “no” sign in a corner of this issue). We all have to see it too much as it is—we don’t need it in our mailbox. I’ll take the cute butt with “Fuck Trump” written on it, any day, misguided as it may seem. With that, I’m off to join the club. –Craven Rock (Fuck Trump Club, PO Box 30272, Albuquerque, NM 87190)

GOODBYE (OR THE STATE OF NATURE), $6, 4” x 5½”, 88 pgs.

A short eighty-eight panel thought comic that waxes philosophical on the human condition. I can’t draw any conclusion over the questions being asked but maybe it’s about anarchy? This reading is supported only by the giant pile of bodies making out and forming an A with a circle around it featured on the last page. The comic is well drawn and humorous, reminding me a bit of modern alt comic darlings Jesse Moynihan and Michael DeForge. Narratively, it’s structured as a series of short vignettes of people making changes to themselves. The comic captures the struggle for growth in a parade of comedy sketches at the rate of one panel a page. Recommended if you see a copy at your local zine fest. –Bryan Static (Ben Passmore c/o Silver Sprocket, 1057 Valencia St., SF, CA 94110, silversprocket.net)

GRATITUDE #2, $6, 11” x 8½”, offset, 32 pgs.

Here’s a testament to the power of a good zine: if it’s written well enough, I really don’t care what it’s about, I’ll still be enrapt by it. Gratitude is all about straight edge and hardcore—two things I give a marginal shit about at most—and it’s absolutely one of the best things I’ve read in forever. Seriously, this zine is awesome. McGuire and the friends he enlists to write for him are all hilarious and super knowledgeable about the dumb minutiae of hardcore, and they joyously revel in all of it. The fun is contagious, man. He reviews the top five brick walls in hardcore, sends his friends mystery tapes and has them write lengthy reviews of the songs, does antagonistic/absurd interviews with various bands and pens lengthy, stupidly detailed record reviews and bullet-pointed essays about the different mixes of Youth Of Today records. The writing is stellar and funny and inviting to everyone, even if you don’t entirely get one hundred percent of the references. Seriously, this thing is straight up magic. Favorite thing I got this issue. Heartily recommended. –Keith Rosson (Gratitude c/o AJ McGuire, 10 Cypress Park, Melrose, MA 02176)

GUERRILLA ARTFARE #1, 8 ½” x 11”, offset, full color, 51 pgs.

This is the first issue of Guerrilla Artfare, a slick Salt Lake City zine whose mission is “unite your spark with the entirety of our community and nothing will be able to silence our desires, dreams and passions.” I love the gorilla on the cover. The spare color scheme reminds me of screen-printed show posters. In a longer article, they present theories on outer space, ranging from the more sound to total wackjob ones that suggest there is no outer space because the world is flat. (Please note, they take no position on any theory). There’s an article on the health benefits of marijuana, one on the Dakota Access Pipeline, one about one about slimeball Sheriff Arpaio, who has a literal concentration camp for immigrants in Arizona. You also get an article about evidence of giants or Nephilim found in a cave. There’s a super fringe conspiracy theory on chemtrails and nanobots. You also get some agitprop art, a crossword puzzle, and some poetry. With all of its unapologetic weirdness, GA is also trying to be a free community zine, not unlike an alternative weekly, so it also reviews small coffee shops to large concert halls and has event listings. I found this part charmingly confused, from the way they encourage the reader to “get up and go DO! Experience something beyond your Boob Tube” when it comes to arty stuff. However, in the sporting events listing they couldn’t help but to toss in “give them bread and circuses.” My only critique is that the articles just seem to start, without any standout title or thesis. That was jarring. Otherwise, it felt like spending a few days in SLC with a fun, ziney, weirdo showing you around. Stay cool, guerrillas! –Craven Rock (guerrillaartfare.com)

HELL 99, $?, 8½” x 11”, fold-out mini comic, 1 pg.

This black and white, fold-out mini comic features a three-panel backstory on a samurai and the dark pact that drives him to revenge. The end of the preview includes a QR code. If followed (or you can go to the website), it brings you to an animation of the conclusion of the first episode. I recommend it for any fans of gritty, old school samurai and kung fu films. –Tricia Ramos (Hell 99, 2016 Hillcreek Rd., Collinsville, IL, chanbaragogo.com)