Zine Reviews

SLINGSHOT #125, $2, tabloid, newsprint, 16 pgs.

Long-running anarchist paper from out of Berkeley. I have been reading this for about twenty-four years now, and it still looks the same, only now they have splashes of color in the layout. I’ve always appreciated how accessible Slingshot is. It never talks down to the reader, and you don’t need a doctorate in history or political science to get what they’re talking about. By the people and for the people, as it should be. This issue has pieces on the ANTIFA, an interesting piece on intoxication culture (which I will re-read after writing this review), climate change, and more. Worthy of your time and support. Send some extra cash for a bulk order to pass around to your friends and strangers on the street. –Matt Average (Slingshot, PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703, slingshotcollective@protonmail.com)

SOUTH BELOIT JOURNAL, $6, 6½” x 8”, 36 pgs.

Fans of John Porcellino’s long-running comics zine, King Cat, will enjoy this offshoot that Uncivilized Books put out this year. It’s a comics journal that covers Porcellino’s winter and spring of 2010-2011, a time when Porcellino had just gotten out of his second marriage and had very little loot. As it was, he found himself with a lack of joy but an abundance of 2” x 6” pieces of scrap paper from a recent project. So he used them to keep a visual diary with more or less daily entries. Nothing wild happens, but if you’ve ever been really fucking depressed you know there’s some solace to reading about how someone else has dealt with it, and the South Beloit Journal has that reassuring quality. And It ain’t all tears. Yes, there are lots of edifying and grim “I spent the day in bed” entries, but there’s some warm stuff, too. Porcellino is great at reminding his readers about the simple pleasure that can come from taking a winter walk, getting rad books from the library, or catching up with old friends on the phone. I’ve never read any of his work without feeling a bit more grateful afterward. –Jim Joyce (king-cat.net)

SUBTERRAIN #77, $8, 10” x 15”, full color, 64 pgs.

This is the all-interview issue of this literary publication (regular issues consist of fiction, poetry, and essays), featuring talks with Douglas Copeland, Caroline Adderson, Dereke von Essen, Emily St. John Mandel, Linda McQuaig, Jen Sookfong Lee, Katherine Fawcett, and many others. If you fancy yourself a writer, and want to know how other authors think, then give this a read. –Matt Average (Subterrain, PO Box 3008 Main Post Office, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X5, Canada, subterrain.ca)

SUPER COOL AND STUFF #6, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 24 pgs.

In Ricky Vigil’s comic zine, he leaves his home in Denver mostly to see Jawbreaker at Chicago’s Riot Fest, and issue six makes for a diary of that weekend. My favorite entries included the page devoted to wrestling shirts spotted at the festival, jokes about how Hot Water Music was “easy to romanticize” when they weren’t “around to make boring new albums,” and how he met a punk pig, which is no euphemism—Ricky comes face to snout with a real oinker, a pig-alama-ding dong. It’s probably the same hog we Chicagoans see dragged around by this attention-starved, grown-ass man who brings his pig everywhere: to the fried chicken bar, to our beloved hipster intersections, and now festivals, too, I guess. Poor punk pig. Or, lucky punk pig! Who can say? The zine ends with a section wherein Ricky, who suffers from baby bladder (like so many of us beer lovers), spends a good amount of Jawbreaker’s set in a Port-a-John. And in this way we learn that the old adage is true: it really is all about the journey. I haven’t gone to a festival in a while. Probably because I’m psychologically unfit to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of strangers. But reading about Riot Fest in comic form felt just right. If Ricky had a semi-regular comic column about this or that punk fest, I’d read it for sure. –Jim Joyce (rickyvigil.tumblr.com)

TRUST #185, €3, 8”x 11½”, 66 pgs.

I’m at a loss of what to say about Trust #185: it’s still a beautiful, crisp punk zine with distinctly gorgeous black and white photography, experimental fonts, and ninety-nine percent of its writing is in German. The English portion? That went to two zine reviews, one of which was a glowing report on Razorcake #98. Thanks, Trust! They even put out the word for Razorcake’s fundraising needs. Other notes? This issue also features reports on Nuclear Cult, Richtiger Punk, a special on Phoenix Punk, L7, and Hell & Back. If you can read German, then I’m sure you’d love this zine. I’ll mail you my copy. –Jim Joyce (trust-zine.de)

WORMHOLE, A, #47 and #?, $?, 11”x 8½”, copied, 2 pgs.

Not even sure what issue number this is for one of them. Two pieces of paper with a staple in the corner. The margins are all cut off. Gonna go out on a limb and say this Worm person really likes grind and death metal. #47 has one-sentence reviews of Queensrÿche, Cradle Of Filth, and Subterranean Fecal Root albums. Cut and paste layout. Typewritten, with handwritten stuff flying off the margins. Ads for local businesses. I’m wondering if the editor meant to include both of these issues together but stapled them separately? Who knows? Forty-seven is a lot of issues, but this seems to have been slapped together really quickly. –Keith Rosson (Worm, 2601 Old Rt. 14A, Penn Yan, NY 14527)

YOU SHOULD HEAR THIS, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 4 pgs.

Ricky Vigil of Super Cool and Stuff zine writes a one-off shorty comic about AFI’s All Hallows EP—it makes for a fun mini-celebration of that release. Fun facts from inside? AFI’s cover of “Halloween” is among the finest of Misfits covers, Offspring did an unnecessary cover of “Total Immortal” for a Jim Carrey movie, and “AFI Live on Robbs [sic] Metalwork 2000” will find you a gnarly old AFI performance from the era before Davey Havok dressed in white. If You Should Hear This is a series, I’d definitely read more issues. –Jim Joyce (rickyvigil.tumblr.com)

BRAINSCAN #33, 4” x 7”, printed, 64 pgs.

This zine is exactly the type of text I was looking to read when it comes to witchcraft. Although maybe hinted in previous issues of Brainscan, never has an issue been solely dedicated to the author’s personal views on witchery and their life exploring their secular style of practice. While breaking down just “what is” witchcraft, the zine also serves as a sort of how-to and personal narrative, giving tips such as avoiding cultural appropriation (often so prevalent nowadays in white girl witchery world), explaining the background behind the different styles and practices, and above all (my favorite part) encouraging readers who are curious about witchcraft to go out there and do some reading, research, and just find what feels right and works for you. –Tricia Ramos (Brainscan, Portland Button Works, 1505 N. Bryant St., Portland, OR 97217)

BROKEN PENCIL #75, $5.95, 8 ½” x 11”, 73 pgs.

This is my first time enjoying the long-running Broken Pencil, a magazine of “zine culture and the independent arts” out of Toronto. Aside from offering the regular slew of good ol’ zine reviews (with reproduced excerpts, gimme a hell yeah!), this issue has some short stories, great comics, and has a feature article on cartoonist Erik Kostiuk Williams and his Superqueerdo series, which stars two “shapeshifting cosmic femmes” who land in Parkdale, a once interesting neighborhood of Toronto that’s losing its art scene and being bulldozed for glass-walled apartment complexes. Williams’ new comic, the fifty-page Condo Heartbreak Disco, takes on the reality of Toronto’s “oh-so-real overdevelopment” with lovely thick-lined illustrations of atypical superheroes who are caught in the complicated battle of slowing gentrification. Article author Johnathan Valelly and comic artist Williams get into a cool conversation about how the comic’s characters are, like a lot of artists, “drawn to the authenticity of [a] neighborhood” and enjoy its resources while simultaneously being “totally oblivious privilege-wielding jerk[s]” who can’t see that their presence may bring irreversible consequences. (Sounds like me.) Anyway, that’s a lot to unpack, but Broken Pencil is good for it. In another article, Alison Broverman adeptly explains how to protect yourself from the artist’s nightmare of having work stolen and reproduced on the internet, from Pepe the Frog to weird shit you post on your blog. –Jim Joyce (Broken Pencil, PO Box 203, Station P, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S7 Canada, brokenpencil.com)

CABILDO QUARTERLY #11, $1, 11” x 14”, copied, 2 pgs.

The fifth anniversary of Cabildo Quarterly finds it at the illogical sum of issue 11. (Math works different in Mike Fournier’s world.) For this issue the traditional format continues: a mixture of poetry and prose spread out over the front and back of an 11” x 14” sheet of paper. This issue has poems by Gale Acuff, Natalie Crick, and Changming Yuan (a 9-time Pushcart nominee?! Wow, Cabildo is moving up!). Prose comes from Rex Thomas, Brendan Kiernan, and Razorcake’s own Sean Arenas. Perhaps I’m partial, but I liked the story by Arenas the most, as it dealt with (as the title suggests) the goings-on of Angelenos. I’m also going to give this issue’s best poem award to Gale Acuff’s piece about a dead dog coming back to life. I believe in supporting the writing and publishing of Razorcake folks, so I’d highly recommend checking this issue out. Also, it’s good writing! –Kurt Morris (cabildoquarterly@gmail.com)