Zine Reviews

LAST NIGHT AT THE CASINO #13, $3, 4½” x 5½”, copied, 39 pgs.

I don’t know why it’s taken me until issue thirteen to read Last Night at the Casino for the first time. I’m kind of bummed I haven’t because this is great. As Billy (who also does the long-running zine, Proof I Exist) points out, the reason people like this zine is because it serves as a doorway between the capitalist world of gambling (where Billy has worked for years) and the anti-capitalist world of punk rock. A big change has occurred with this issue, though. Billy quit his job working as a dealer at a casino in New Mexico and moved to Baltimore. However, he can’t stay away from the gambling bug and decides to start dealing at private parties (think fundraisers or holiday parties where no one uses real money but instead does it for fun and/or prizes). This issue is all about his experiences with those parties. And it is fascinating! The events are so varied he finds himself at a charity event attended by professional football players and then at an elegant booster club fundraiser for black college fraternities. The writing follows a step-by-step account of the various gigs Billy has, and thus isn’t very imaginative or exploratory, but it provides great insight into a world of which I know very little. If you have even the faintest interest in casino culture and a sense of curiosity, this zine is for you! –Kurt Morris (Billy, PO Box 22551, Baltimore, MD 21203, iknowbilly@gmail.com)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #422, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 112 pgs.

One of my favorite parts of Maximum Rock’n’roll is the columns. While the ones in this issue varied in terms of quality, I did want to make a special mention of the “Sex Work Is Real Work” column by Natly Loveless. Sex work is such an important thing to discuss and any attempts to humanize it are worthwhile. So, it’s very cool that MRR gives it a place in their pages. As for the interviews, once again it’s a thorough collection of bands I’ve never heard of, including Muro, Haircut, Gen Pop, and more. It seemed that in more than prior issues, the band interviews were rather dull. Even if you’re not into the bands Razorcake covers, it can be interesting reading the interviews because they have a conversational tone. A number of the interviews in the latest issue of Maximum Rock’n’roll are simple Q&A. I’m guessing they were done via email. They remind me of the kind I used to do when I had a fanzine in the ’90s. Such interviews can be interesting, but they don’t allow much of an interest to build in the band unless you already know who the act is. All of this means that this issue is rather lackluster compared to others I’ve read recently. –Kurt Morris (MRR, PO Box 460760 SF, CA 94146-0760)

MINIMUM ROCK + ROLL #11, $1, 5½” x 4¼”, copied, 6 pgs.

Compact zine containing compact interviews of indie bands! This issue features interviews with New Jersey band Secretary Legs and new label State Champion Records. Also features record reviews of Eureka, California (the band), Temporary Eyesore, Heavy Pockets, Talk, Tired Thanatoid, Tim Woulfe, and Moon Racer. Please note that the handwriting in this mini-zine is very wee, so break out your glasses! –Tricia Ramos (Minimum Rock + Roll, no address listed)

MINIMUM ROCK + ROLL #9, $? , 5½” x 4½”, copied, 6 pgs.

I’ve reviewed this zine before and once again I have the same critique: why? Why does a six-page quarter-size zine exist? This issue has a five-question interview with the emo band Closer and six short album reviews. But my question is why is this even put out? Why not at least make it bi-monthly? There certainly isn’t anything wrong with coming out every two months. In fact, many great zines are published bi-monthly. Just some food for thought. I suppose if you see this at a show you can pick it up, but otherwise it’s not worth looking for. –Kurt Morris (No address listed.)

OUT FROM THE VOID, 6½” x 8”, copied, 14 pgs.

This is a long piece on missing persons and the author’s obsession with them. To be honest, the first few pages rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like the author had an unhealthy obsession with missing people in the same way people geek out over serial killers or devour true crime pulp. I get it, I thought, this is how you’re dealing with your mortality. I’m okay with someone having such morbid obsessions, but to put together a zine with real missing people’s photos and discussing how and when they disappeared seemed a little exploitive. Closer inspection reveals this is a reprinted column of the same name that runs in Eugene Weekly. The author writes it because he “think(s) missing people matter. That getting to the bottom of things matters” and he “wants cases to get solved.” Whether it comes from a place of compassion or is a subconscious way of dealing with mortality, fear, or inner darkness (probably a bit of each) he does something positive with this obsession. It’s a lot more than I can say for myself. If real life stuff like this gets under my skin, I just put on some movie about kids getting hacked up at a summer camp to ease the anxiety. –Craven Rock (outfromthevoid@yahoo.com)

POSSUMS DON’T GET RABIES, $?, 4¼” x 5½”, copied, 84 pgs.

Technically a novella but produced and printed as a zine, Possums Don’t Get Rabies follows a pair of unlikely companions—a demon named Iodine, and their familiar/love/lover, an opossum named Chernobyl. Desolate and heart-wrenching but beautiful, Possums Don’t Get Rabies works as an allegorical tale of coming-of-age and love, in sickness and in health. Would you die for the people you love most? What would you do to keep them alive? Simple in formatting and copy, this story sticks with you. Ripe with quirky metaphor, fascinated with birth, death, and all the human (or, in this case, demon and possum) parts in-between, this is worth the read for anyone who loves an eccentric, gritty, and meaningful journey through the city and life. Also, the author, Arthur Sprague at Blue Snake Zines, is super sweet and will probably send you homemade lick and stick stickers or other fun stuff with your order. –Jimmy Cooper (bluesnakezines.tumblr.com)

PROOF I EXIST #28, $2, 4½” x 5½”, copied, 35 pgs.

I’ve read Proof I Exist on and off for well over ten years. I’ve always enjoyed Billy’s writing, but this issue is by far the best he’s ever done. On a superficial level, the paper stock and typewriter he used are beautiful. The paper is off-white and the type is kind of black but also kind of blue. Whatever it is, it makes the words easy to read. The content, on the other hand, is more difficult to swallow. But that’s not because of how Billy writes (to the contrary!) but because of what he’s covering. This issue delves into Billy’s relationship with Aaron, his brother. Aaron and Billy grew up in what seems to be a good household. But as the brothers grew older, Billy steered clear of substances while Aaron got involved heavily. It got to the point where the two brothers were fairly well estranged from one another. This was primarily because Aaron went missing for periods due to drug and alcohol use. I don’t want to give away the entire content, but the writing is compelling and deep. It goes back and forth between Aaron’s story with drugs and Billy’s life without them. Aaron’s life is tragic and Billy doesn’t shy away from that, but neither does he hit you over the head with it. This is, ultimately, not a hopeful tale, but as Billy reminds us in the zine, “this isn’t a movie, and the final scenes of resolution aren’t coming through all clean and smooth….” If you’ve ever had a family member struggle with addiction, or want to understand the pain of what that is like, this is essential. For more info, email iknowbilly@gmail.com. –Kurt Morris (Billy, PO Box 22551, Baltimore, MD 21203)

PROOF I EXIST #28, $3, 4¼” x 5½”, risograph, 40 pgs.

Two brothers raised the same, but with two very different adult lives. This perzine is a confessional and short family history in one. One brother abstains from drink and drugs, the other becomes deeply addicted to both. Over time there are attempts to get off from the substances, but ultimately the struggles remain. A heart-wrenching look into how a relationship can be strained when drugs are in the family. –Tricia Ramos (Proof I Exist, PO Box 22551, Baltimore, MD 21203, iknowbilly@gmail.com)

QUEERFUCK: THE BIG ONE, free, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 26 pgs.

Stressing over a comprehensive, queer-inclusive sexual health resource? Look no further! Longtime sex educator Eli Scriver provides an awesome guide to everything you could possibly want to know (and maybe a little more) in the first volume of Queerfuck. It’s handwritten and drawn with a few handy printed graphics, which is super cute. Don’t worry, though, all the words and diagrams are easy to read, which is often a problem with zines done by hand. The overall visual is cute and welcoming, unlike many a sexual health resource. It’s perfect for educators and educatees alike, especially those whose school and parent-provided sex ed. was lacking (and whose among us wasn’t?). The Big One even includes a section for “Things They Don’t Tell Us” and “LIES,” aimed at correcting misconceptions folks may have picked up along the way, in addition to the basic information that composes most of the zine. There may be more issues coming, so watch out! –Jimmy Cooper (eli.scriver@gmail.com)

READY FOR WAR, $13 ppd., 5½” x 8½”, fanzine booklet, 100 pgs.

The term “battle jacket” isn’t one I was immediately familiar with. It’s what the photographer of Ready for War calls a denim jacket or vest covered in patches, studs, pins, et cetera. In over one hundred photographs from 2013 to 2018 inside this glossy booklet, we see the backs of various punks and metalheads and their battle jackets. Seeing all the personalized jackets from pristine patches in a row, to faded and cracked paint pen-scrawled band names, they’re all so unique of each individual. I’ve always liked seeing people’s design choices (or lack thereof?) for the back of their vests and jackets, and these full color photos do not disappoint. The zine also includes two postcards with eight different battle jacket pictures on them. –Tricia Ramos (Ready for War, adelsouto@adelsouto.com)