Featured Zine Reviews from Razorcake Issue 100: King-Cat Comics and Stories, Not Like You, Slingshot, Subdude, Suburban Struggle

Featured Zine Reviews from Razorcake Issue 100

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KING-CAT COMICS AND STORIES #77, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 40 pgs.
John Porcellino has been writing, illustrating, and self-publishing King-Cat Comics since 1989. Through a series of autobiographical vignettes, issue 77 explores his relationship with animals: a possum plays dead in his backyard, a yellow-jacket stings his crotch, and he spots a big cat while on the road on two separate occasions. Porcellino’s minimal black-and-white illustrations capture his childlike awe during every animal encounter. For example, he and his sister watch, mouths agape, as their pet caterpillar becomes a butterfly. When a cougar strolls alongside the road, his wide-eyed expression—comprised of a few simple shapes and lines—says so much with so little. There’s profound narrative power in stripping things down to their essential elements. And so, these thoughtful and serene moments epitomize the brilliance of King-Cat Comics; every experience—no matter how mundane—is valuable, meaningful, and worthy of documentation. After reading King-Cat Comics for the first time, I wanted to make my own minicomic, and that’s one of the greatest compliments you can give any creator: seeing what you do makes me want to do that, too. –Sean Arenas (Spit And A Half, PO Box 142, So. Beloit, IL 61080, king-cat.net)

CELEBRATED SUMMER
#1, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, color, copied, 41 pgs.
This is a really cool way to celebrate a milestone. Celebrated Summer Records in Baltimore is ten years old, so Tony decided to make a zine to tell the story of the shop. Along with the story with its often intense ups and downs, the zine is chock full of photos of the store, its beginnings, where it’s at now, bands playing there, staff and friends, and the many shirt, poster, and button designs over the years. It has a beautiful layout and features cover art from Razorcake’s own Liz Prince. Reading this made me want to go to Baltimore and hang out at the shop! –Ty Stranglehold (Celebrated Summer, 3116 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211)

CHRISTIAN HUMPER, THE #54, Free, 3 ¾” x 6”, printed, 20 pgs.
It’s been a long time since Adam Voith has published a copy of his zine, The Christian Humper, although he’s been putting it out since 1991. I’m so glad he’s back at it. This issue is a great fictional piece about Adam’s neighbor. After many years of living nearby but never meeting, Adam finally does so, and gets to see the neighbor’s big old tour bus. The rest of the zine finds Adam switching back and forth between the actual encounter and the personality he has created in his mind of this neighbor. In Adam’s mind, this old man used to be the driver for Christian musicians, including Michael W. Smith. Adam’s imaginary tales of this man’s life are hilarious. They brought plenty of smiles to my face as I recalled Christian musicians from my teens and experiences in youth group. As someone who wrote “One Punk’s Guide to Christian Punk” for Razorcake, it shouldn’t be a surprise I got a kick out of this. However, I think those who have an even peripheral interest in Christian music culture or who grew up in a church youth group will find this zine to be appealing. In addition, Adam is a great writer whose prose is smooth and enjoyable to read. And it’s free, so there’s really no reason not to get this issue of The Christian Humper. –Kurt Morris (Adam Voith, 6559 Brownlee Dr., Nashville, TN 37205, adamvoith@me.com)

DEEP FRIED ZINE MPLS, $1, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 16 pgs.
Okay, first of all, fast food is unhealthy and terrible for your body and mind. No! Second, zines giving free advertising to terrible fast food companies… also a big no-no. No! There. Now that we got that out of the way, I’m going to say, for the discerning reader there’s quite a bit of fun to be had in this goofy, fast food-celebrating zine. In this zine, you’ll learn more than you ever need to know about Taco Bell’s Choco Taco and Jack In The Box’s ‘93 E. Coli epidemic. They use Mountain Dew spin-offs like Pitch Black and White Out as metaphor for deconstructing the politics of the Trump Administration. They also have a bone to pick with new school fast food and its urge to abbreviate everything, like DQ, et al. Deep Fried has ideas, man. Following in the tradition of the Ramones and Sloppy Seconds, Deep Fried reminds us of the trash culture-glorifying roots of punk rock. Somehow, with brains foggy from corn syrup, MSG, and lack of nutrition, they put together this zine as an outlet for those vices and it’s a good time. But you didn’t hear it from me. –Craven Rock (Deep Fried Zine MPLS, 2901 Yosemite Avenue South, St. Louis Park, MN 55426, videophobia222@hotmail.com)

GUIDE TO BEING BROKE AND FABULOUS, $8, 5¼” x 7½”, copied, 36 pgs.
Julia Arredondo takes on the role of a brash and empowering older sister in this handy (and very cute looking) guide. The “Fabulous” in the title is crucial—the zine focuses less on the gritty, not-fun details (there are a couple simple recipes and some general thoughts about roommates vs. no roommates) than on the questions of cheap date activities and how to develop a rad and confident style on a tight budget. Someone needing practical information about survival, especially someone without any family support system whatsoever, will likely be better served by other resources. That person is probably not buying an eight-dollar zine anyway. That’s not to say that there isn’t some really thoughtful and valuable stuff in here, especially the sections on maintaining supportive friendships and dealing with stress. Overall, it’s a self-care/self-help zine oriented toward young people in urban areas who don’t have a lot of money. I could see this being a pretty cool resource for a lot of teenagers in general, just for the author’s tough, positive attitude. –Indiana Laub (Vice Versa Press, viceversapress.com)

NOT LIKE YOU #7, 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 38 pgs.
Killer! Another issue of Not Like You. As I’ve said in the past, this zine encapsulates the things I love most in life, namely punk rock and skateboarding. This issue features a lot of the same: interviews with skaters and bands, record reviews, random anecdotes, and lots of great photos. The highlight for me was the interview with Dean from Blue Tile Lounge in Vegas. He talks about putting on the Skate Rock Reunion back in 2014 (which to this day is the best show I have ever been to!) and the Stern brothers attempting to heavy him (shocking) for having the show on the same weekend as Punk Rock Bowling. All in all, I always look forward to reading this, and it is settling to know that there are other people just like me out there! –Ty Stranglehold (Not Like You Zine, 102 Richmond Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106)

SCENE & HERD #8, copied, 3” x 4”, 6 pgs.
A small motivational comic, it starts off with questions of self-worth and mental health and ends by helping the reader by reminding them that they are capable and can make it through (whatever issue you’re dealing with). A nice, small reminder that we are not alone in the darkness and that there is hope out there. –Tricia Ramos (Scene & Herd, brantzwoolsey.tumblr.com)

SLINGSHOT #124, $1, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 12pgs.
Always a breath of fresh air in a polluted and toxic world, Slingshot brings it with a super topical issue. An article called “Less Resist, More Exist” challenges “The Resistance” to strive for more than simply fighting the administration and fascists in the streets, encouraging focus on building the communities that we’re actually fighting for. The Right has been organizing on “division and polarization,” so Jesse D.’s article insists we “stop playing into this game by unwittingly escalating false divisions, and try to focus on unity, listening, healing, and solidarity…. If solidarity has any meaning… it doesn’t just mean solidarity with a tiny politically air-tight clique eager to give the middle finger to everyone who hasn’t learned our code language.” A perfect companion article, “I Was a Fascist,” has a former Nazi explain the valid alienation, anger, and oppression he felt and how it was manipulated by racist peckerwoods, leading him down a dark and ignorant path. He has suggestions for how the Left can reach people before being indoctrinated by human turds like Tom Metzger. The issue rounds out with stuff on fighting the Black Snake of oil and practicing communalism. Slingshot represents the way revolutionaries should be but rarely are. It avoids the lofty academic style of mags like Fifth Estate, and welcomes voices who have something to say, regardless of their skill and experience writing. Their layout is always cut and paste with crude illustration, giving off a charming and warm feel. –Craven Rock (Slingshot, PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703, slingshot@tao.ca)

SLINGSHOT #124, free, 8 ½” x 11”, newsprint, 12 pgs.
I never knew that the Slingshot pocket organizer people had a publication, but they do, and it’s a foldout newsprint reader with thoughtful lefty content and a few practical resources, like news on what info shops have opened or closed since that last planner got printed. The summer issue had a couple jargony reads like “Active Autonomous,” a manifesto-ish call for “a new world view,” that I was too much of a lumpen to process. I can tell you that it involved communes. My favorite two reads were Jane’s article about rape culture (“Disturbance in a Safe Space”) and Michael Frank’s piece about discovering that the white power movement and enlistment in the armed forces were not for him (“I Was a Fascist”). From Jane’s piece, I learned some sad but enlightening statistics about survivors of sexual violence and how a lot of people, rather than supporting victims, ignore or shame them. It’s not a purely depressing read—the author ties in a personal anecdote about (a) teaching folks ways of being more receptive to victims and (b) how-to guide for those who don’t know how to help. As it is, “communities are full of people,” she writes, “not robots,” and you have to meet people where they are and educate accordingly. Frank’s piece has a pretty cool sense of compassion, too, in that he recalls what factors cultivated his racism—being bullied, needing someone to bully in turn—and how that led him to join the army and eventually discover that he was a late-blooming anarchist with a whole lot of love and readiness to leave the armed forces and get activisting. Enlightening reading, and free! –Jim Joyce (Slingshot Collective, PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703)

SUBDUDE #1 & #2, $3, trade or $5 for both, 4 ¼” x 5 ½”, copied, 24 and 36 pgs.,
The author of this zine considers his general mental state to be subdued. His zine title comes from an unintentional homophone that happened as a result of his dyslexia. It’s a perfect title, accurately describing the writer and the tone of his zine: thoughtful, reflective, with a bit of melancholy, yet never navel-gazing to the point of alienating the reader. Issue #1 deals with the wishy-washiness of people when you ask them to do something and the, “Oh yeah, let’s meet up sometime” thing people will say and not really mean. I know when people say this they are often being polite, but aren’t really committal. The author makes a good case that it often has to do with the modern world and the constant bombardment of choices. He thinks people don’t really commit because it might be the less fun choice. We want to keep our options open as long as we can. He encourages more honesty in commitments and more contentment in sticking to the ones you made. Issue #2 is about how his grandmother got him a knockoff, cheapo, imitation Masters of the Universe toy, how it was always out of place and he never knew what to do with it. He then uses it as a metaphor for himself, how being gay made him feel like an outsider as a kid. There’s also stuff on getting over not-knowing-how/asking-for-help-shame to learn simple bike fixes. There’s some book and music lists to pad things out. Both these zines are short and I think they would work better combined into a single issue, allowing the reader a fuller look at who Mick is. Just an aesthetic preference, not a critique. Get both of them! –Craven Rock (Mick, 1901 E Sunset Dr., Bellingham, WA 98226, subdudezine@gmail.com)

SUBURBAN STRUGGLE: THE CAMPAIGN TO SUPRESS PUNK IN COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA, 1978-1981, $6, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 132 pgs.
One of the most interesting things I’ve ever gotten to review. A history of an early Orange County venue, Costa Mesa’s the Cuckoo’s Nest, as told entirely through police reports and public documents. Divided into chronological order, with an absolutely stunning cut and paste aesthetic, Suburban Struggle is a fascinating look at how punk was viewed by the “normal” populace. It reads as a pretty classic case of a venue’s demise: shows get put on, punks show up, have issues with the neighbors, concerns of property values and “children’s safety” arises, venue shuts down. Like I said, it’s all told through public records, though the editor does a fantastic job of parsing through them and providing a summation of each chapter. While some of the pages suffer from a little too much photocopy manipulation that makes them difficult to decipher, the vast majority of it is a visual wonder. It’s beautiful. It also placed me in a strange position: the editor posits that the Cuckoo’s Nest was essentially shut down via “state suppression,” i.e., cops, business owners, and city council eventually acting in tandem to get what they viewed as an unwelcome element out of their suburban enclave. That might even be true. Yet if even half of the public statements here are correct, punks at the Cuckoo’s Nest got their venue shut down mainly because they were shitheads. Cultural attitudes shift, I get that, but anyone who has ever helped sustain a venue knows: Don’t shit where you eat. For all of the state suppression that went on, there also seemed like a shit-ton of really young kids who were lighting cars on fire, breaking neighboring windows, kicking each other’s asses, getting drunk, and doing coke in the parking lot. I’m torn, which makes for a seriously fascinating read. –Keith Rosson (Suburban Struggle Zine, 3603 W. Washington Blvd., LA, CA 90018)

THESE BARS: AN ANTHOLOGY, $?, 8½” x 11”, printed, 57 pgs.
This anthology of poetry and art comes from students who attend College Bridge Academy Watts. Now on its sixth year, the collection features poetry, narratives, and art, all from students who in some way or another have experienced assault, racial profiling, have been in the foster care system, or have experienced gang violence or drug addiction in their community. The poems were touching and heartbreaking in some, uplifting through struggle and oppression in others, and all spoke through a voice much older than their years. I truly enjoyed reading through all their poems. Art can be a very important part of healing and I hope that this program continues on for many years. –Tricia Ramos (These Bars: An Anthology, bridgetarlene@gmail.com)

TRUST #183, 8” x 10 ½”, offset, 65 pgs.
Where do I begin with the almighty Trust fanzine? Trust is often described as the German equivalent of Maximum Rocknroll, and with good reason. Their mission and content are often aligned, both being staunch supporters of DIY hardcore, punk, and underground culture in general. This issue includes the normal collection of columns, record and zine reviews, and photo spreads alongside featured articles/interviews with former Lookout! Records head honcho Larry Livermore, Reagan Youth, Sunbather, Feels, and much more. Trust is such an important fanzine, evident in that it has been able to exist uninterrupted for thirty-plus years now, with hopefully another thirty-plus in the works. –Mark Twistworthy (Trust, Verlag, Postfach 11 07 62, 28087 Bremen, Germany)

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