Featured Zine Reviews from Razorcake Issue 96: Doris, Fluke, Get Loose!, Hot Tag, Minor Leagues, Your Black Friend

Illustration by Becky Rodriquez, ink-sketch.tumblr.com

DORIS
#32, $3.75 by mail or $3 and two stamps, 5½” x 4”, copied, 46 pgs.
Doris is a perzine of sorts. Part interviews, part therapeutic tips, part stream of consciousness. I get excited whenever there’s a new issue. Doris reads like an advice column from a personal friend or like a letter that you’ve been waiting on for a long time, with updates from a person you’re close to. This issue includes interviews with anarchists over forty, an interview with Marius Mason—trans Green Scare long-term prisoner—writing workshop exercises, some beautiful tips on how to be a good conversationalist, how to be happier, and life and death. Reading Doris feels like that breath that I’m able to remember to take at the end of a long day. –Tricia Ramos (Doris, PO Box 29, Athens, OH 45701, dorisdorisdoris.com)

EARTH FIRST!, Fall, 2016, $6.50, 8 ½” x 11”, 88 pgs.
If have heard anything at all about Earth First!, then you know all about this publication, their “Journal of Ecological Resistance.” This zine is loaded with information about direct action and sabotage that goes on around the world in the name of protecting land, water, animals, and their habitats. This issue also includes a six-page interview with Tim Rusmisel, who I have heard speak a number of times at DIY shows in the Los Angeles area. His project, Proyecto Huella, does beach cleanup and sea turtle protection in Central America. It was great to see his face and his wonderful work mentioned in print. Also included are book and music reviews, poetry, and black and white photographs dedicated to saving our home planet and fighting against the assholes who seem hell-bent on destroying it. –Jon Mule (Earth First! Journal, PO Box 964, Lake Worth, FL 33460)

FIRE PIT #1, $4, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 63 pgs.
Fire Pit is collection of poetry and short fiction from Eight-Stone Press in Baltimore, Md. In his introduction, editor William P. Tandy describes Fire Pit as, “A flicker of humanity seeking elusive definition against the dark and unforgiving night….” Who hasn’t felt the darkness, the unforgiving? Who doesn’t crave a flicker of humanity? There is much in this world to feel downright shitty and pissed off about, but a collection of writers and poets dedicating their time and effort to create “a flicker of humanity” is well worth celebrating. –Jon Mule (Eight-Stone Press, PO Box 347, Glen Arm, MD, 21057)

FLUKE #13, $5, 5½” x 8½”, offset, 68 pgs.
One of the coolest zines happening these days, and this issue marks twenty-five years of existence! This issue is a love letter to Arkansas punk, which is where this publication started. There are interviews with people who worked behind the scenes to make it happen, from promoter Fletcher Clement, to flyering with Colette Tucker. Then there are the folks who play, or played in bands: Andy Conrad (Numbskulz, Smoke Up Johnny), Colin Brooks (Numbskulz, Big Cats), and James Brady (Trusty). Then there’s the piece from the legendary Tav Falco, a detailed play list from Mitchell Crisp, and a piece from the editor, Matthew Thompson, on his introduction to punk way back when. Reading through this, you will get a strong sense of community, the important role everyone plays in keeping their local scene alive, and how it affects what they do during and after. –Matt Average (Matthew Thompson, PO Box 1547, Phoenix, AZ 85001, fluke.bigcartel.com)

GET LOOSE! #6, $?, 8” x 10”, 7 pages (two posters), screenprinted
The reading content is short but sweet with some cartoons, an interview with the band Holly Hunt, and a recipe. I’m partial to the Bum Wine Tour of Oakland Park, Fla. and a map full of annotations of what they drank and where they vomited. This the first issue Get Loose! since 1994, a gap that, if a person, could buy their bum own wine. So respect these ol’ farts for keeping it real. Get loose, indeed! It’s inspiring. Maybe I’ll run out for some MD 20/20 and kick it old school myself. Best part? Movie reviews—a guy transcribing what his friend says watching movies. Of Inglorious Basterds, he says, “It’s about a Jew that ruined Hitler’s favorite movie.” Indeed it is. With newsstand mag measurements and screen-printed on cardstock, its two sections are folded, opening up into rad, full-sized, illustrated posters, one with whimsical and wicked cartoonery and the other agitprop, demonizing the ol’ familiar suit-and-tie guy. I enjoy the art zine as much as the next guy, but after a peruse, I always think, “Now what do I do with this?” Well, Get Loose! is a couple of posters disguised as a zine. Hang ‘em on the wall, stupid! Mine also came with a screened D.O.A. poster (number seven in a run of sixty-five) for no real rhyme or reason, just pure awesomeness. And I got a bunch of stickers from Party Flag, whom I must now check out! Get Loose! made my day. –Craven Rock (infoforgepress.com)

HOT TAG #2, $3, 5½” x 8½”, 24 pgs.
This issue of Dan Nelson’s wrestling zine covers his ill-fated attempt to make the leap from wrestling fan to aspiring pro wrestler. The succinct version of the story is that Nelson’s attempt to prove himself to pro wrestler and coach DJ Hyde at the CZW Wrestling Academy results in a hospital stay for rhabdomyolysis, a.k.a. working out so hardcore that you start shutting down your kidneys with broken-down muscle tissue. That’s a condition I did not even know existed, and am somewhat disappointed to have never been informed about by workout shirts with super-competitive, bro- slogans in all my trips to the gym (perhaps “Push it to the RHAB-zone” would be a good one?). Luckily, Nelson came out of the ordeal okay physically and only slightly worse for the wear financially due to his luck at having health insurance. Still, the experience leaves him pondering how he ends up repeating cycles of over-exertion and comfortable stagnation without ever seeming to quite hit the golden balance, especially in the face of realizing that as a man in his thirties, he may quickly be aging out of his chance to get in the ring as something more than a fan. As someone who likes working out, but always feels a little put to shame by all the ultra-athletic muscle-gods in the crossfit videos who sneak into to my Facebook feed with alarming regularity nowadays, I can quite appreciate the struggle Nelson talks about with figuring out how to keep persistently motivated in a way that doesn’t burn one out in an initial fury of big intentions. –Adrian Salas (Dan Nelson, hottag.bigcartel.com, hottagzine@gmail.com)

HOT TAG #3, $3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 24 pgs.
A gripping and emotionally affecting tale of a young man whose bond with friends in the wrestling fan world gets him through some serious personal problems. The editor Dan, and the subject JW Grizzle, tag team the story. Their to-the-point prose and clear love for wrestling and friendship give the story’s centerpiece—a blow-by-blow of a wrestling role-playing game session—a surprising sense of action and emotional depth, as the friends find redemption in their imaginary and day-to-day lives. I never thought I’d be so touched by a scene where a guy stuck at home with a DUI tapes his phone to his fridge to record himself talking smack for a role-playing game, but here I am. –Chris Terry (hottag.bigcartel.com)

MINOR LEAGUES #1, $?, 3½” x 5½”, printed, 96 pgs.
A mix of prose, sketches, poetry, and memories, Minor Leagues reads like a diary from a person traveling in winter. The somber tone and mood of the book feels quiet, almost peaceful. The author manages to convey a real feeling from the lightly sketched drawings and comics inside. The vulnerable mood of the writing drew me in, and the light sketches kept me in. –Tricia Ramos (Minor Leagues, smoo-comics.com, smoo.bigcartel.com)

MINOR LEAGUES #2, $5, 7” x 9”, 88pgs.
Minor Leagues is Simon Moreton’s latest comic after SMOO, his zine of life stories and vignettes that ended last year. This new series is set in Bristol, England. We start with a funeral, float to a summer spent in parks, learn of Dizzy the cat’s escape, and end up pondering a heron Moreton saw one night on a drunken walk. Sometimes I can’t handle elliptical stories where I don’t know who’s coming and going or what’s at stake. Yet, this narrative looseness works for Minor Leagues because the comics end up telling the story in a dreamy continuation rather than in neatly chopped segments. His loose style works with the understated drawings, which I love. In one of my favorite panels, Moreton is seated behind a couple in a pew at a funeral. Though his characters rarely have clear faces, he’s wearing glasses, and the glasses frame covering his left eye is slightly larger than that of the right. It’s a subtlety that conveys the curious wide-eyed look people get right before crying. I read SMOO because I love John Porcellino’s King Cat. The illustration styles are similarly abstracted, and the pacing is similarly slow. The major difference is that Porcellino’s comics seem to have a sharp start and close, like haikus or something, and Moreton’s pieces flow and wander, which really does recreate the feeling of a year remembered. Some drink Pabst, some drink Old Style, some drink both. Minor Leagues is that tall boy of a zine that I need when American artists alone can’t meet my craving for pint of life comics. Recommended reading! –Jim Joyce (smoo-comics.com)

QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
, $3 or trade, 5½” x 8½”, copied with giant removable sticker on back, 24 pgs.
Cartoon zines are definitely one of my favorites. This one features a majority of satire, American culture commentary, and toilet humor. The best jokes were the ones making fun of white people specifically, which instantly got a laugh from me. The author also included a second zine for review, called White People Be Like…, which was an awesome addition (also $3 or trade, same address for ordering). The author’s drawing style was a mixture of classic cartooning, hand style lettering, and, at times, reminded me of Cracked or Mad magazine. The back cover also features a giant removable sticker of the zine’s title; also a nice incentive to keep around to quit your day job. P.S. I wish all the zines I got for review made fun of white people. –Tricia Ramos (Quit Your Day Job, Louis Veres, 3165 Roger Pl. #15, St. Louis, MO 63116, luee314@gmail.com)

TOTAL BLAST #6, £1, 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 16 pgs.
I have not read Total Blast before but this issue, entitled “Thrashoholics in Suburbia,” is the story of a small time British punk band, The Thrashaholics. The comic tells of their forming and subsequent adventures. Anyone who has formed a band, argued over influences, tried to promote themselves, or knows what it is to look forward to playing a show that only turns out to be an awful disaster, should look into this comic. Author Mike G. tells a story that hits close to home for many in the DIY punk community. –Jon Mule (Mike G., tblastzine@gmail.com)

YOUR BLACK FRIEND, $5, 5½” x 8½”, color printed, 11 pgs.
As an American, I can’t imagine a much more important zine to read right now. At this point in our history, race relations are pretty fucked, to say the least. Ben Passmore’s zine is only eleven pages but hits hard. Your Black Friend is a color comic zine comprised of Passmore’s illustrations of the experiences he has as a black man in America. It’s especially poignant for a lot of white people in the punk and independent music culture who may think we’re past racial issues. Passmore shows how they continue to endure and effect him. He shares his feelings on what he wishes white people understood and what he wishes they’d do and not do. Insensitivity and treating black people as the “other” are exposed throughout these pages. A lot of what Passmore wrote made me sad; other parts made me angry. I remain dumbfounded how white people can be so insensitive to people of other races and cultures and why we continue to act as though we shouldn’t treat people as equals. And even though it’s not the role of people of color to try and educate white people about racism, I’m thankful Passmore has taken the opportunity to use his experience to create a vehicle that I hope will help show white people how we continue to need to be aware of the privilege we have and how we can abuse it. –Kurt Morris (Silver Sprocket, 1057 Valencia St., SF, CA 94110)
 

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