Zine Reviews

PROOF I EXIST #29, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 20 pgs.

This issue of Proof I Exist zine is about obsession with hockey. He describes his initial struggle with it, not wanting to get down with hyper-masculine jock shit and making his peace with this. He also analyzes hockey from a queer standpoint, reviews a hockey book found in an old couch, and more. The best part by far was about his teenage love of playing the game with his friends. First, they’re content simply playing with inline skates and two trash cans to mark a goal, then someone suggests they compete in a state competition. Taking up the challenge they get in way over their heads playing high school teams that are far more skilled. The fallout is hilarious and kind of sweet. While it certainly didn’t inspire me to reconsider hockey, people writing about stuff they like with joy and passion is always fun to read. –Craven Rock (iknowbilly@gmail.com)

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HORROR ZINE, THE #2, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 40pgs.

This collection of horror fiction is the opposite of a band like, say, The Misfits. It’s horror about rock rather than rock about horror. It’s a fun, trashy read that can be on the predictable side. For example, take the story about an ancient guitar chord unleashing a Lovecraftian hell upon the world, or the one about a death metal band calling up a Lovecraftian hell upon the world, or zombie punk bands, all of which are fine for a bus ride. However, at times it gets pretty creative, take “End Times at Rock ‘n’ Roll Joey’s,” a story about a rockabilly diner serving the haggard survivors and mutants of an apocalyptic world. Most of the material is pretty light, horror fare (not Groovy Ghoulies light, but there’s nothing you’ll have to leaves lights on after reading), however, I have to admit Ben Fitts’ “Reality,” with its cyberpunk take on murderous death metal, will get under your skin if you let it. –Craven Rock (doomgoat666@gmail.com, doomgoat666.wixsite.com/benfitts)

RUM LAD #12, £3, 6” x 8”, printed, 26 pgs.

This is a zine of dedication and remembering of one zinester’s grandparents. In this issue of Rum Lad, we learn about the author’s grandparents, one of who died in 2013, and the other in 2017. Short but sweet, the zine has quick memories of events or personality quirks of these loved ones, including the grandfather’s Navy tattoos, the grandmother’s slow, but fun old moped, and both elder’s deaths. Definitely a perzine that got me feeling emotional about my own family. –Tricia Ramos (Rum Lad, etsy.com/uk/shop/rumladzinesandart)

SLUT CITY JOURNAL #2, $2 ppd. or trade, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 100 pgs.

One hundred pages of DIY from a collective in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utilizing every page, there are tutorials on pirate radio, how to broadcast your own television station, recipes for affordable meals, how to start a distro, how to make milk paste (not wheat paste), guides to utilizing thrift stores to their ultimate potential, how to become a show promoter… honestly the list goes on and on. A super useful guide for any individual interested in removing themselves from consumerism and becoming a more self-reliant human. –Tricia Ramos (Slut City Journal, SCJ c/o 900 South #326, Salt Lake City, UT 84111)

subTERRAIN #80, $7, 10” x 12”, printed. 96 pgs.

Keeping anything happening for thirty years is impressive. subTerrain—a Canadian indie lit mag—manages the feat, doubly impressive due to its dedication to publishing unheard voices. Like the many issues I’ve reviewed in the past, this issue is themed: it harkens back to the mag’s original mission statement of publishing from the margins. Throughout this anniversary issue is fantastic fiction and poetry: this issue’s standouts include abecedarian poetry by Evelyn Lau and lake monster fiction by Anne Baldo. At twenty-five bucks for a two-year, six-issue subscription, subTerrain is a steal. Always a great read, always a joy to find in the mailbox. Get it! –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 3008 Main Post Office, Vancouver BC V6B 3X5 Canada)

SYNDICATE PRODUCT #24, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 24 pgs.

If you’ve ever read a book that was so awful you couldn’t help but tell your friends all about it, then this zine will be right up your alley. This multi-contributor zine features negative reviews, or “cultural criticism” of books that disappointed or infuriated their readers. Honestly it was a delight. Reading reviews that are so brutally honest about popular publications brought me a lot of joy. The really appealing part is that all of the reviews explain in detail just what was so upsetting or angering in the books. From their topics, to the pacing of the writing, there’s something for everyone to hate on! Highly recommended if you’re an avid reader or enjoy the negative reviews from Goodreads. –Tricia Ramos (Syndicate Product, c/o Michel PO Box 877, Lansdowne, PA 19050, synprod.etsy.com)

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE #2, $7, 5” x 7”, Laserjet, 36 pgs.

A really amazing guide to the women of folk music. The very first page is a profile of Vashti Bunyan with an amazing illustration of her. This is an extremely helpful and well made guide for anyone who wants to get into folk and needs a place to start. Bijou Karman’s illustrations are beautiful, and the handwriting and design go so well together. It’s one of those zines you can put on your “coffee table” to show off to your friends, and everyone will want to pick it up immediately. Singers include Odetta, Judee Sill, Nico, Karen Dalton, and so many more! Yes, also Joan Baez. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Bijou Karman, bijoukarman.com)

ADVENTURES OF PUNK BIRD, THE #1, $1.50 or trade, 4¼” x 5½”, copied, 15 pgs.

This series covers the adventures of Punk Bird (not just a clever title). In this issue, the first in the series, the bird is bummed, thinking he doesn’t have any friends. Meanwhile, he’s constantly rejecting friends wanting him to hang out because he’s too elitist to do anything he doesn’t want to do. He decides to throw a wild party (inviting all the friends he doesn’t have) to bolster up his social life. –Craven Rock (PunkBird352@gmail.com)

BROKEN PENCIL #79, $7.95, 8 ½” x 11”, offset, 72 pgs.

If you’re not familiar with Broken Pencil, it’s Vancouver’s magazine of zine culture and all things DIY—all that’s worth knowing about, anyway. Besides reviews of zines, indie lit, and independent art, this issue has a feature on deaf zinemakers and another on how to make it tabling a zine event without getting overwhelmed with anxiety. I found the latter irritatingly petty. Yeah, it’s awkward and uncomfortable at zine events. Life is pain! Attention is focused on a contest called Deathmatch where short stories are pitted against each other in an online arena. The winners are reproduced here; most of them are of a sci-fi nature. I can’t say I was blown away by them, but they were worth my time. So, the features are kind of hit or miss, but their review section is spot on as usual. –Craven Rock (Broken Pencil, PO Box 203, Station P, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2S7, Canada, brokenpencil.com)

BROKEN PENCIL #80, $7.95, 8 ½” x 11”, full color, 64 pgs.

Broken Pencil is a Canadian zine that focuses on independent arts and runs the gambit covering zine culture, reviews, and comics, along with interesting and sometimes oddball fictional short stories and columns. Issue 80 features an article covering webcomic platforms (something that I’m not all to familiar with but found pretty intriguing), urban foraging, and a few short stories, most notably the emotional and quirky “Whatever This Is, It’s Something” by Nicole Chin, about a father leaving his family to “find himself” and the emotional fallout and eventual peace that follows. Chin writes, “I spent two days trying to channel my energies into hating my father, but it didn’t last long. Hating people is exhausting business.” Kind of a kitschy, cool addition to this mag was the 3D glasses that gives a bit of depth to graphics and adds a bit to the intrigue. Broken Pencil has lush pictures of mixed media from submitting artists, colorful and cheeky comics, and very thorough and thoughtful zine, book, and independent music reviews. I’m not sure out how essential this magazine might be for punks, but I can say it was enjoyable to thumb through. Plus I dig the glasses. –Camylle Reynolds (Broken Pencil, PO Box 203, Station P, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2S7, Canada, brokenpencil.com)