Zine Reviews

LATE BIRTHDAY PRESENT, THE, $3, 5½” x 8½”, 55 pgs.

I can’t tell if this is fiction or a real story with some elephant-sized embellishments, but in a basic sense, Sean’s zine is about a dude named Sean dealing with the loss of his best friend who died of an overdose—and perhaps the bigger picture is about trying to live with and love people who suffer from addiction— which seems like an undervalued conversation that I wish more writers engaged with. The title refers to one of Sean’s buddies, this guy Jessie, and Jessie’s young friend and birthday boy, Mike. It turns out Jessie missed Mike’s big day, but his late present, enacted by Sean, is to take Mike to the circus. They want to see the elephants on their last performance. Sean’s zine makes for a good read—a bit zany like Richard Brautigan with his crazy similes and absurd topics of conversation (there’s a recurring gag with a Tommy Bahama shirt), but the narrator is never too far from laying on the heavy stuff and reminding the reader that all this craziness—heavy boozing and rambling around in his truck high as a kite—has been a way of grappling with one friend’s death and another’s slide into serious addiction. What else can I tell you? Well, they steal an elephant. Bonus point for all the Crimpshrine references. –Jim Joyce (Sean Dunne, AN4246, PO Box 905, Avenal, CA 93204)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #408, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, 98 pgs.

To be perfectly honest, it’s been a number of years since I’ve picked up an MRR. It never quite gripped me like I wanted it to, and though I realize that every issue is unique, I just haven’t developed a habit of reading it. This issue had a few things that did really grab my attention—largely in the columns section. Overamped is a new column by someone who works directly in harm reduction. The piece in this issue is largely introductory to the subject matter, though it also plants the necessary seeds for destigmatizing drug use and the importance of restoring humanity to users. Having volunteered for the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance personally, I was very endeared to this piece. Another of note is Teaching Resistance wherein radical and subversive educators share their pedagogy and tactics. This particular issue covered current day college-level students and their perspectives on the Black Panther movement, including dispelling falsehoods. One thing I still don’t get about this fanzine is why columnists are compelled to recount record reviews in their allotted space. Save that for the review section! Band interviews include acts such as Reptile Ranch, Zone Infinie, Ataxxia, and Street Eaters. While I understand that it makes me sound jaded and out of touch, much of the music MRR covers is not familiar to me, though I consider that a positive. It’s crucial to step outside of your comfort zone when the opportunity presents itself. All in all, it’s a good issue and enjoyable read. It didn’t quite make me a subscription convert, but it did make me mindful to pick up a copy more often. –Kayla Greet (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146-0760, mrr@maximumrocknroll.com)

MINOR LEAGUES #3, $5, 7” x 9”, 62 pgs.

Simon Moreton’s latest comic zine from Bristol, England deals with the death of his father, which, as far as a stranger’s loss goes, is meaningfully rendered with a lot of textless panels: illustrations of the author going through his day, sort of bewildered and silenced by grief. You walk through the world, but you can’t say you’re as in it as the people around you. Moreton’s slow pacing and spare illustrations are beautiful. I keep looking at them and wondering, how did he make that picture of a cityscape with so few lines? How’d I know that’s a picture of him in bed when there are so few details? The content is pretty heavy, but that’s life, and I’d gladly read Minor Leagues regardless of topic. Check it out if you’re at all into good perzines and autobiographical comics. –Jim Joyce (smoo-comics.com

MISHAP #36, $2 or trade, 5 ½” x 14”, copied, 34 pgs.

The latest issue of Mishap has Ryan reflecting on the incredible series of events that came with Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. While this is a personal zine, it’s also political. The two mesh very well. I never felt as though I was being preached to or that Ryan was being heavy-handed in his writing. Sure, he’s liberal, but it’s stated in such a way as to express his thoughts and feelings rather than trying to convert anyone. In addition to his thoughts on the election, Ryan also has a great list of recommended books from 2016, his experiences with his sexuality, and a look at what men can do to stop rape culture. Sometimes I get zines to review that seem so short or without depth that I wonder, “Why did this even get made?” Mishap, however, has just the right amount of content that is also engaging and inviting. If you’re looking for a political punk perzine, here it is. –Kurt Morris (Mishap, PO Box 5841, Eugene, OR 97405)

NO EXPOSURE #3, $3, 5½” x 8½”, 50 pgs.

Aside from the cover (on which a dude drinks beer from a sneaker) this zine from Perth, Australia, was written entirely by typewriter with neat borders and tiny text boxes. Nearly every page features intimate photos shot on the writer’s Olympus OM-1, a camera “that a guy at work gave [him] for free.” He reviews twenty-nine albums and a book, interviews Daniel Lupton, the head of Sorry State Records (among other things, Lupton makes a good argument for not reprinting classic records), talks with power crusters Territory, and assembles a great guide to Tokyo’s record stores. I can’t believe one guy’s doing all this, but he is. At one point, the author laments that Perth has “a load of art student/‘per’-zines” and not enough “music-centric punk ‘zines,” but holy shit, if Perth has only one music zine as beautiful and content-thick as No Exposure, that’s still pretty good. Only $3. Recommended. –Jim Joyce (No Exposure, PO Box 284, Maylands, WA 6931, Australia)

OUR FUTURE, VOL 1 NO 1, $?, 8½” x 5½”, newsprint, 23 pgs.

This zine’s stated purpose is to dive deep into obscure music topics. Here, the focus is on Extreme Noise Terror and their collaboration with British dance band KLF. I admit to being initially reluctant about this one because of the subject matter, but editor Rodney Shades conducts an excellent interview with ENT’s Mark Bailey, illuminating the unlikely match of electronic dance with grindcore. A fine debut, and one that promises continued excellence. –Michael T. Fournier (thisclose86@gmail.com)

PERFECT DAY FOR SCOTTIE PIPPEN, A, $2, 4” x 5½”, 20 pgs.

I feel like I was just tricked into reading Scottie Pippen fan fiction. It’s a short story about a person waking up in their filth, eating a Pop-Tart, and then shooting the shit with the eponymous basketball star. I could make wild guesses about the meaning of Scottie Pippen. Perhaps he’s a metaphor for unfulfilled desires. Or maybe it’s just Scottie Pippen fan fiction. As with all Scottie Pippen fan fiction, I assume, it is also filled with freshman composition college writing. Lots of adverbs and an allergic avoidance of contractions that makes the text sound stiff and afraid to be too common. I wish I had something positive to say, but I really just can’t see the point. –Bryan Static (Steve Orth, Cookie Books, steveorth25@gmail.com)

PERFECT DAY FOR SCOTTIE PIPPEN, A, $2, 4¼” x 5½” copied, 20 pgs.

This zine is a very short story that is kind of like joint fan fiction of (as the title suggests) NBA star Scottie Pippen and the J.D. Salinger story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” I’m not completely convinced that it needed to happen, but it’s fine. The narrator uses this disaffected, casually observant voice that is very difficult for me not to slip into now that I’ve just read this whole thing. Apart from the two unlikely subjects suggested in the title, the story is really mostly a meditation on the hypermundane—is stuff like this still called alt-lit? I don’t know, but there’s considerable discussion of Pop-Tarts and reality television. –Indiana Laub (Cookie Books, steveorth25@gmail.com)

PROOF I EXIST #26, $3, 4¼” x 5½”, copied, 90 pgs.

Editor Billy chronicles a tour by his band Rudest Priest. Tour diary zines have been done to death; this one transcends the traps of the genre. Billy does a nice job blending bios of his band members with reflections on shows, travel, gender neutral pronouns, musical ability, and Steinbeck. Warm and inviting throughout—this one’s a winner. –Michael T. Fournier (No address listed)

RIOT 77 #19, €3, 8” x 11½”, 44 pgs.

Irish punk fanzine, Riot 77 covers underground music; primarily of the punk rock variety. This new issue contains giant interviews with Richie Ramone, Flamin’ Groovies, The Ruts, Walter Lure, and Johnny Moped. Also included are book, DVD, and record reviews. A pretty packed punk magazine, straight from Dublin. –Tricia Ramos (Riot 77, PO Box 11342, Dublin 2, Ireland, riot77magazine@hotmail.com)