Featured Zine Reviews from Issue #81: Canadian or Scientologist

Aug 18, 2014

GENEVA13 #20, free in Geneva, $2 to get mailed, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 32pgs.
I wish every town and city had a zine like this. This zine puts the biggest emphasis on a local city town—in this instance, Geneva, New York—I’ve ever seen. It’s great. This particular issue has interviews with the store owners and artists of Linden Street. This focuses on the people just as much as their businesses. Nothing is out of context, which, while making the interviews pretty long, let’s you read exactly everything that was said. There are interviews with the people of the post office, an upholstery shop, a muralist, insurance company, bank, wine bar, and lounge. These things may not sound all too exciting, but they all delve deep into their stories and what drives their businesses. I love this zine because it reminds you how complex and unique every single individual is. It’s a celebration of the community they live in. I think more cities should take note. –James Meier (Geneva13 Press, PO Box 13, Geneva, NY 14456)

#1, $2, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 28 pgs.
I will not wait until the wee hours of the morning before they are due to do my reviews again. Why? Because sometimes I have to review disturbing stories like those found within the pages of this zine and I will have nightmares. All three stories are about how humans and animals do not always form a peaceable kingdom. The writing style is nothing to write home about, but the subtle way that the horror creeps into a seemingly benign story is pretty damn cool. The first story is young adult fiction gone horribly wrong. The other two have a strong social satire component. It’s what I would imagine Jonathan Swift would write if he watched a lot of sci-fi/horror movies. Fortunately, there are no illustrations except for the front cover. –Lisa Weiss (Jim Gies, 2020 N California Ave. #276, Chicago, IL 60647, [email protected])

As You Were: A Punk Comix Anthology:
#3, $10, 5 ½” x 7 ½”, offset with cardstock cover, 112 pgs.
The entries featured are snapshots into the lives of each contributor. While some comics do this more literally than others, each is truly personal. I found “A Happy Death” by Cathy G. Johnson to be extremely relatable, because who hasn’t met that guy who makes you feel inadequate about your world views or choices in music? I was touched by the minimalism in “The You & Me Game,” though the illustrations consist solely of a dog and cat laying together, the heartbreak of an ending relationship is conveyed so effectively in the last six panels; I felt it like a weight in my chest. My favorite of the bunch is definitely “Upgrade” by Ben Sears. Written entirely in binary, it’s worth the effort of typing each one and zero into a binary translator to fully understand this lovable comic. This collection has something for everyone; a great addition on any bookshelf.–Ashley Ravelo (Silver Sprocket, 1057 Valencia St., SF, CA 94110,

CABILDO QUARTERLY #6, $1, 11” x 17”, copied, 2 pgs.
The sixth issue of this literary rag is still two pages of eleven by seventeen inches. There are a number of poems and a story by Jeff Schroeck of the band Black Wine. I enjoyed the story because short fiction usually does me well and it was about shitty stuff that happens at work and we’ve all had to deal with that. The poetry challenged me and seemed more accessible than previous issues. I’d love to see some more fiction and non-fiction and a little less poetry. Nevertheless, this is coming along well. -Kurt Morris (CQHQ, PO Box 784, Belchertown, MA 01007,

CURING CANCER #1, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 44 pgs.
Despite the Germs reference on the cover, most of this book’s humor comes from science references, puns, and nerd trivia. Kind of like XKCD. Half of the pages were blank, and the commentary for the comics was longer than the comics themselves. GRADE: C-. (I’m pretty happy with this review. I think I captured exactly what was wrong with the comic I received in question. It’s not that the jokes from the comic were unfunny, per se, but they weren’t exactly unpredictable. This review also accurately captures how annoying it is to see the content of the zine outweighed by meaningless commentary and explanations of the jokes. A three-panel joke about Hellboy does not need two hundred words to explain the intricacies of the art. Plus, how do you not just printed two-sided? It seems like such a waste of paper to leave so many completely blank. I hesitate to make fun of the creators’ intelligence, because clearly it takes some brain work to be able to create these comics. Still, you’d think learning how to properly print a zine wouldn’t be rocket science.) –Bryan Static (

EARTH FIRST! BRIGID 2014, $6.50, 8½” x 11”, glossy cover, 57 pgs.
Earth First brings you news on all things environmental going on around the world, and also acts as a forum that anyone can write into and have a chance to get published. Magazines like this aren’t around as much anymore, which is why it’s so great to see Earth First continue to publish in glossy cover, despite most people turning to the internet for news now. The main article in this issue is the protest and saboteurs of the UK Badger Cull, where badgers are pretty much open season for anyone. Secondary articles include effects of the police state on environmentalism and the fight against hydrofracking in Romania. There are countless shorter articles as well. This zine is packed with information. It gives updates on the animal liberation front and earth liberation front, too. The format is beautiful and well done. It’s great to see a zine like this still circulating, and after reading it, I got a subscription. Anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist should absolutely check this one out. –James Meier (Earth First! Journal, PO Box 964, Lake Worth, FL 33460)

EXCUSE ME WHILE I THINK FREELY #5, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 17 pgs.
EMWITF is a mixed bag, full of prose, poetry, non-fiction, and the occasional crudely drawn comic. Personally I’m not usually into poetry or short fiction, but because of the diversity of the subject matter, I did find something I liked in here: the story at the very end, a sort of memorial for one of the author’s professors who’d recently passed away. I would have liked a little bit more information in the zine on where it was printed, and where it comes from—who makes it (e.g. bios about the contributors, or even a mailing address). It was great to see a zine with so many contributors, and that made me curious about who and where they are. –Bianca ([email protected])

GUIDE TO DATING GANGSTERS: VOL. 2, $4, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 18 pgs.
Guide to Dating Gangsters
begins by redefining the often-stigmatized term “gangster.” By broadening the scope of what constitutes a “gang,” the writer provides a humorous in-depth look at groups not commonly attributed with the moniker: Greasers, Bosses, Cat People, Stoners, Inmates, and Experimental Musicians. Complete with fashion tips, date ideas, and music with which to woo your respective gangster, this zine is an invaluable tool for navigating the vast and dangerous ocean that is the dating world. The author pools the information from personal experience—making it all the more relatable. After finishing, it made me wonder what I missed out on in volume one. Recommended. –Ashley Ravelo (Vice Versa,

HUG IT OUT#1, $2 ppd. U.S., $3 ppd. Canada & Mexico, $4 ppd. world, copied, 5½” x 8½”, 24 pgs.
I was huge into wrestling in the ‘80s and early ‘90s ((even had a letter printed in Pro Wrestling Illustrated, with the Rock’n’Roll Express on the cover!)), but lost interest right around the time they admitted it was work ((and/or right around the time my band started playing out every weekend and I could no longer sit around getting stoned and watching WCW wrestling for two hours each Saturday evening)). I’ll still pop over to a friend’s house for a pay-per-view, or watch a few lucha libre DVDs when I get the itch, but, as far as following wrestling on a weekly basis goes, I think I’ve pretty much hung up my tights for good. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to read page upon page of the author’s angst about how the storylines are progressing: Will they turn out well for the wrestlers he likes? Will they be good for the promotion? Will they be good for business? What will the fans think? I used to be at work, mopping stairwells or scrubbing toilets or whatever, and look at the clock and realize I had been completely lost in thought about fricking WRESTLING for like two hours straight—like serious, contemplative, The Thinker-style meditation about how some scenario concocted by some dweeb in a run-down office was gonna play out. Wrestling takes on this insanely large dimension of sincere importance in the minds of the true fans, and it’s cool to be led, Aaron Cometbus-style, thru the psyches of some current devotees of the art form, now that I’m in retirement and all. The only part of the zine that had my inner slob chanting “BO-ring!!! BO-ring!!!” was the five pages spent asking a friend if various maneuvers and wrestlers were “Tight or Not Tight,” as the tiny photographs accompanying the piece did little by way of conveying the Tightness or Not Tightness discussed. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I have eaten at cover boy Abdullah the Butcher’s restaurant ((“Abdullah the Butcher Ribs and Chinese Food”)) in Atlanta. No turnbuckles were on the menu. –Rev. Nørb (Hug It Out, PO Box 73691, Washington DC 20056)

LET DOWN #2, $?, 8 ½” x 5 ½”, copied, 34 pgs.
The second issue of this cut-and-paste zine has interviews with Eccentric Pop Records (Groovie Ghoulies, Jetty Boys, The Putz), The Young Rochelles, and Chris Clavin of Plan-It-X Records. Even though they were email interviews, they weren’t bad. I remember when I was in high school and first started doing zines, I did a lot of interviews over email, but looking back, phone and in-person interviews are way better. They allow for much more in-depth, interesting conversations. I would’ve especially liked to have read a more thorough talk with Chris Clavin because his answers caused me to want to ask many more questions on where the label is now and where it’s going, as well as his failed experiment to construct a punk rock community in Quincy, Illinois. In the introduction to this issue of the zine, the author mentions that his dad’s favorite band ever is The Dopamines. Wow. How cool is this guy’s dad? While I can appreciate the interviews that were performed, I’d love to read an interview with the author’s dad. That would be way more interesting. -Kurt Morris (Blake Karlson, 1670 W. Division, Chicago, IL 60622, [email protected])

LIFE IS POSERS #1-2, $5 each, 5½” x 8½”, 58 pgs.
Pretty good for a shitty comic.The art is kind of bland and repetitive, but the writing is solid enough to carry it through. We follow the lives of a bunch of punks as they throw a party at a friend’s house. There are plenty of characters to sympathize with, depending on your relationship with the punk scene. If you’re that nerd that’s almost like a punk (kind of like me), then you’d probably relate to Howie the House Punk, whose house gets utterly destroyed. If you remember those times in your teenage years where you just wanted to be accepted by the older punks, Twister and Nutsack represent that part of the coming-of-age punk saga. If you’re a drug-using asshole who likes to dress like street trash, then the rest of the cast might be relatable. There are a few problematic parts of the strip—such as every female character being a Sara(h) of some type, or the art literally being a cut and paste job on some panels. As actual comics, Life Is Posers clearly doesn’t take the format too seriously. Every page is four panels of equal size with camera shots sticking to the same three or four angles throughout every strip. All in all, a good read. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (

That name is not a lie: this zine is a cram sesh on logical fallacies. What’s a logical fallacy? It’s defined here as a false or incorrect logical principle, and the zine goes into great detail explaining a few different ways that an incorrect logical principle can look. I’ve got to say, logic makes a lot of sense. This is basically a zine that can probably help the reader strengthen their critical thinking skills, which is always good. The material is also presented in an aesthetically pleasing way, with fancy Victorian clip art of disembodied hands and machine parts and salt shakers. This zine makes logic digestible and fun to look at. –Bianca (The Cultural Ether, 2440 E. Tudor Rd. #364, Anchorage, AK 99507)

MAXIMUMROCKNROLL #371, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 144 pgs.
The facts: Newsprint. Stalwart of scene. Columns, reviews, interviews, photos, art, ads. The April issue, which usually means a bevy of long-running April Fool’s jokes, but while I didn’t read every word front to back I could find hardly one. The cover, obviously: “The ALL COLUMNS ISSUE!” And most likely Felix Von Havoc’s one about releasing an acoustic CD. But that’s about it. Interviews with New York’s Alright Fest people, O! Kult, Stab, Bill Bondsmen, Woolf, Rational Animals, Crapoulet Records, Varix. Like many volunteer-run efforts, the visual and written aesthetics wildly vary, but that’s always been the case with MRR. Personally, I especially appreciate how much effort (via interviews, columnists, scene reports, etc.) obviously goes into making MRR a truly international, expansive endeavor. –Keith Rosson (MRR, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146-0760)

ORGAN GRINDER#3, $5, 8½” x11”, full-color, 24 pgs.
This is cool! This full-color zine is full of puzzles to keep the old gray matter from turning to mush. Not your mom’s Sudoku or your dad’s crossword. Noooo. There are lots of cool brain-teasers such as “Medicine or Metal Band,” “Manson or Hanson,” “Asian Tyrant or Take-Out,” and “Canadian or Scientologist.” But it’s not all fun and games. There are zine reviews and a linguistic analysis of the word “oogle.” It’s not every day that you see the International Phonetic Alphabet and free morphemes mentioned in a zine article. Unfortunately, a note on the inside front page says this is probably the last issue, so get it while you can. –Lisa Weiss (

PAGES FROM THE CULTURAL ETHER: LOVE & BEAUTY #1, $1, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 30 pgs.
This is a collage-based zine that the author hopes readers will rework into their own art. Since these collages also include word bubbles, they end up coming off like a much cooler version of the Sunday funnies, with each page being a self-contained story. The collages draw heavily on what looks like Victorian clip, which seems to be a theme (a good one!) with zines from The Cultural Ether. I imagine reading this zine as a good palate cleanser between heavy reads or something to kick start your creativity if you’re in a rut. –Bianca (The Cultural Ether, 2440 E. Tudor Rd. #364, Anchorage, AK 99507)

SNAKE PIT SPLIT WITH My stupid life, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 48 pgs.
I was drawn to this split because I’ve been a longtime fan of Mitch Clem. This was Clem’s first crack at producing a daily strip and it does not disappoint. Cleverer than he gives himself credit for—even when overwhelmed by responsibilities or weak and bedridden—Clem delivers satisfying and often self-deprecating punch lines in every strip. Flip the zine over and you’re greeted by Ben Snake Pit’s contributions. I find myself enamored with the idea of consistently chronicling my day to day; I’ve never had the discipline to fill a diary. Ben Snakepit’s thirteen-year dedication completely blows me away. No gimmicks, no added fluff, the strips are simply his everyday life. He is able to convey the human experience through simple drawings of mischievous winks, clenched fists, and meticulously drawn piles of poop. –Ashley Ravelo (Silver Sprocket, 1057 Valencia St., SF, CA 94110,

SPARE CHANGE#26, $2 ppd. (trades accepted) 5½” x 8½”, copied, 40 pgs.
Spare Change’s format is unlike anything this reviewer’s ever encountered, and that’s a good thing. About half of the zine is repurposed promotional mail-in offers and business reply pre-paids; the other half is haikus, and they’re intermingled throughout. An example of a pre-paid: when the author wrote “Single people hate your junk mail” on a reply postcard for a personalized ring designed for “soul mates.” Not like I’m an expert, but the haikus were pretty good too, by which I mean they were funny. “Shit scraped off shoes/ Never comes completely clean/ Have to walk it off.” A quick read, but a good one; this zine was definitely entertaining. –Bianca (Spare Change, PO Box 6023, Chattanooga, TN 37401)

SPLATTERPUNK, £3.50, 5 ¾” x 8 ¼”, copied, 40 pgs.
First, I feel obligated to define Splatterpunk. For those who don’t know, Splatterpunk was a subgenre of horror fiction that boomed in the ‘80s with writers like John Skipp, Craig Spector, and Richard Laymon. It was gritty, nasty, gory and a lot of fun. Some argue that it disappeared near the end of that decade, but that’s bullshit. It’s still out there, although it’s often just called extreme horror (much more boring as far as labels go). This sick zine from the U.K. is dedicated to showcasing the current crop of splat-meisters, while paying homage to the masters. This issue kicks off with an all-too-brief essay by Jeff Burk, the editor of Deadite Press (arguably the epicenter of fucked-up fiction right now) on why he loves this sick shit. Next up is a fantastic story of texting-and-driving carnage served up by Shane McKenzie, one of the current kings of the genre. There are some interviews and reviews, but the short stories are really the highlight. It’s twisted stuff, and it’s designed to be shocking and upsetting. But it’s well written and worth checking out if you’re curious about what’s going on in underground horror fiction. –MP Johnson (

SUSPECT PRESS #2, $1 U.S./$3 world, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 144 pgs.
Thin little newsprint thang that serves as a fine, fine junction between the literary and punk worlds. I have no idea if all of these writers are from Denver or not, but the editors (who are no slouches themselves in the writing department) are lucky to have found them. Quality assortment of fiction shorts and creative nonfiction here, as well as a few poems, comics and reviews. Really well done; my favorite parts being Nicole Hagg’s piece about the death of her mother and poor old Josiah Hesse’s testicle problems. Those two authors alone made this an excellent issue. I really hope Suspect Press keeps going (though possibly consider changing the font of the body text, yeah?) –Keith Rosson (Suspect Press c/o Brian Polk, PO Box 100263, Denver, CO 80250)

THINGS AND SUCH, $?, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 32 pgs.
Things and Such is a thirty-six page comic depicting an intervention at a show the author’s friends put her through. It’s a pretty short read. And I don’t want to give away the ending, but it gave me a good laugh. For as goofy as it is, it still has some grounding points that I could relate to. It’s black and white with personified cats and talking ghosts, with a charming, simple, and cartoony art style. That’s the most I can say without ruining the story. –James Meier (No address listed)

WASTED OPPORTUNITIES #6, $?, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 36 pgs.
Wasted Opportunities is a really well done DIY zine made by one person from Australia. It starts out with the author’s top picks of 2012 and goes into an interview with pop punk band The Capitalist Kids. The interview is very in-depth. It asks tons of questions and spans almost half of the entire publication. The interviewee gives really solid and well-explained answers. After the interview, there is a few page rant on the new Star Wars movie I’m sure all you nerds have heard about, which basically says what we already know but don’t want to admit: there will never be another Star Wars that will be as good as the original or quench our blood lust for how episodes one through three turned out. There are a few reviews at the end, which are pretty detailed and provide album artwork as well. All and all, a great DIY zine that fans of pop punk in particular should check out. –James Meier (Justin, PO Box 145, Royal Brisbane, Herston, QLD, Australia 4029)

WELCOME TO THE CULTURAL AETHER #5, $3 for a three-issue bundle, $5 elsewhere, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 36 pgs.
If I were into steampunk, I imagine that this is something I would have sitting on a table in the parlor. The pages are all collages of Victorian images mixed with op-art, mixed with text that the author admits is not his own—little gems such as “It’s turtles all the way down.” Still, the really well executed collages are nice to look at even if the reading matter is less than inspiring. –Lisa Weiss (The Cultural Aether, 2440 E. Tudor Rd. #364, Anchorage, AK 99507)

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?, $?, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 36pgs.
Have you ever moved to a new place where you knew no one, felt depressed, and were a complete outcast? Welcome to the world of being human! Where Are You Going covers one woman’s migration and adjustment into Memphis, Tennessee. Anyone who has ever moved to a new place can relate to this. A few times, I felt like I was reading something that I would have written when I last moved. Every couple of pages she offers somewhat of a “study guide”—what things you have learned about your new city and what kind of places/people you want to be finding. It covers certain things that helped the author with stress, loneliness, and breaking into a new music scene. The story in itself is well-written and worth reading, with the added bonus of interactive study guides! New movers and old movers alike, give it a read. You’ll be surprised at how much you can relate. –James Meier (Red Velvet [email protected])