Featured Zine Reviews From issue #82: a single tear smearing his grease painted cheek as it wound its way to his chin

Nov 03, 2014

Illustration by Ryan Gelatin

KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER: AN ADAM ANT POCKET READER,  $1.50, 2 ¾” x 4 ¼”, copied, 16 pgs.
I must preface this review by stating I do not listen to Adam Ant, so perhaps I’m not the target demographic for this reader. Nevertheless, the two (very) short stories with lines like “a single tear smearing his grease painted cheek as it wound its way to his chin” made for an engaging read—even if I didn’t always fully understand the context in which these stories were happening. For an Adam Ant fan, this zine is a conversation starter. For everyone else, it wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. –Ashley Ravelo (MC Sunflower Jones, 1514 Studebaker Rd., Long Beach, CA90815)

11 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT ALEISTER CROWLEY, $1, 2 ⅛” x 2 ¾”, copied, 16 pgs.
Though I find the 11 “things” listed somewhat interesting, the lack of background about these anecdotes causes the zine to fall flat. The one-line pages can most likely be attributed to the zine’s small size, but, unfortunately, this only added to the sense of reading an online list someone linked to their Facebook status. –Ashley Ravelo (MC Sunflower Jones, 1514 Studebaker Rd., Long Beach, CA90815)

1997: A TEEN QUEEN TIME CAPSULE$3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 16 pgs.
In reading perzines, it’s exciting to find parallels with the author. Yet, it’s more intriguing when confronted with the stark differences of personal experience. The major flaw with this zine is its lack of a clear delineation between its two authors. Assuming each contributed every other page (which is all I could fathom after multiple reads), Deirdree Prudence’s input was my favorite of the two. Her entries seem like intimate confessions, as if I’m reading the diary she left open on her bed. I can relate to this sixteen-year-old girl who liked crafting and watching “vintage game shows.” In comparison, Jolie Nunez-Noggle’s collage illustrations seem to serve only as a means of breaking up text and bring little to no substance to the table. Hopefully, there’s a stronger, more focused zine around the corner that isn’t satisfied by padding its length with poorly copied collages. It’s 2014, not 1997; there are solutions to these light balance problems. –Ashley Ravelo (MC Sunflower Jones, 1514 Studebaker Rd., Long Beach, CA90815)

AGGRO, $3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied w/ glossy cover, 30 pgs.
This is a one-off zine comprised of seven essays about some punks’ experiences in the 1980s and early ‘90s. The impetus for this is that the editor of this collection found himself and other forty to fifty-something punks sitting around sharing stories of shows from back in the day and decided to get those punks to put their tales in writing. All of them take place in California/Tijuana or the New York/New Jersey area and none are run-of-the-mill. There’s the story of the time Jello Biafra’s leg was broken at 924 Gilman, the one where the show in Tijuana got busted by the cops, and the time there was a riot (actually, that seemed to happen in more than one of these stories). Violence was a frequent theme in many of the tales, including my favorite, from Dale Johnson: “I seem to remember a bottle crashing incident…involving Rob Chaos (of the band Total Chaos) as some punk had either accused him of singing with a fake British accent or fucking his girlfriend.” As someone who occasionally indulges in punk rock nostalgia, I appreciated the stories that were told. I didn’t always recognize the bands that were mentioned, but I could understand the excitement, the feel of what it’s like in the pit, and the satisfaction in finding a place where you belong. I found myself in the moment with the authors and by including old show flyers it provided that extra bit of history that tied me in to the time and place in each story. Some of the authors meandered —their writing could’ve been tightened up, and the action could’ve been heightened through better storytelling—but overall this was a fun read whose material was right up my alley. Aggro is easily one of the best zines I’ve read in a long while. -Kurt Morris (Cory Linstrum, 630 Taylor Ave., Alameda, CA94501, [email protected])

CHEAPTOYS #15, €2, 4” x 6”, copied, 40 pgs.
This zine is written in both French and English and while neither is dominant, I don’t know French, so I can only review this in regards to the English portions. What I did read I really enjoyed, as the author wrote pieces about the effect of punk on his life and a road trip from Montreal to visit libraries in New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. When I figured out that he was a library student, I identified with the zine even more since I am not only a library nerd, but also have a library science degree. The author seems like a laid back person, the type of individual I could get along with (similar interests always help). Like him, when I go on vacation I like to visit libraries (especially non-traditional ones) to see how they operate. I only wish I read French! Instead, I will take this to Montreal with me in a few weeks when I go to visit my Québécois friend and make her read this to me. Definitely recommended for any bilingual punks. -Kurt Morris (Cheaptoys, 19, montee du caroubier, 06240 Beausoleil, France, [email protected])

DED WEIGHT, #1, $?, 5½” x 8½”, 28 pgs.
“Oh god, fucking why” one might think, casually sifting through the pages of Ded Weight. Truly, Ded Weight belongs in the heavy-weight class of vulgar and crude comic books. The art is unpolished, simplistic, and gross. Think explosive diarrhea, a talking penis, and a cover with a man cutting his own genitalia off. Now, I, being the charming and sophisticated individual that I am, have the refined palate to digest such a fine piece of art. Though I didn’t think every one of its jokes landed, if you have a soft spot for toilet humor, Ded Weight is decent option. I would not hesitate to read more, but I couldn’t call it a good comic in the traditional sense. Grade: B+. –Bryan Static (1480 Pepperhill Dr., Florissant, MO63033)

DO YOU REMEMBER ROCK’N’ROLL RADIO?, #1, $5, 10¼” x 7”, 28 pgs.
The story, adapted from a column by a former record store and record label owner, is about the last time he ever met the Ramones. As a story, it’s a great read. The prose touches on concepts of aging, increasing irrelevance, and the fading cultural ghost of rock‘n’roll. To the kids who listen to the Ramones, the band exists in mythic-like tales, as ghosts of an age of rock that no longer exists. But to Bela Koe-Krompecher, the Ramones were flesh and blood entities. They were record collectors, stoners, and all around great guys who looked out for people they considered their friends. Bela contemplates all of this when he sees a Ramones T-shirt worn by a junkie, and reminisces about his experiences interacting with the band. Though the story was excellent, I can’t in good consciousness say that as a comic book it worked insanely well. Some panels got too bogged down by text and a good chunk of text had to be kept as omniscient narration because it would have either taken too many pages to adapt it graphically or there is no real way to show it visually. This dwelling on abstract thought is antithetical to a comic book and only really works in the prose medium. But those are the dangers of adapting a prose story into such a format. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (Nix Rock’n’Roll Comics, nixcomics.com)

DORIS #31, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 18pgs.
Doris #31 is another great addition to an already prolific series by Cindy Crabb. This issue is partly about the hardships that could happen when you value your ethics and not compromising them for anything or anyone, and if you’re lucky you’ll find close friends who share the same passion and beliefs as you. Even if it takes you to dark places, your dreams should never be compromised. I realize that it’s a luxury to be able to hold on to your strongest dreams and deepest desires, which is what makes this zine so uplifting. –Simon Sotelo (Doris Press, PO Box 29, Athens, Ohio, 45701)

GAG ME WITH A…#10, $3.33, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 38pgs.
MC Sunflower Jones give us another delightful Gag Me with a… zine featuring twenty-two writers and visual artist, creating one of the most interesting series I’ve read lately. From poems to fiction to anecdotal moments in time, these contributors together make something that is nostalgic, funny, sad, and occasionally really, really desperate. This issue contains reviews, chats with distro owners, and a breakdown of some of the bigger zine events that are happening around the country. My favorite part of the issue is an introspective look into our own DIY/zine community as a whole; we claim to be “all inclusive” but with the exception of closed-minded outsiders. I see that too often and I’m just as surprised as I am glad to have seen someone else mention it publicly. In short, “don’t be an asshole,” but do get this zine. –Simon Sotelo ([email protected])

HERE HAVE A TURD, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 20pgs.
One man’s short anecdotes—not reliving the glory days of an angsty-hardcore teenage to young adult life—but short excerpts reliving some seemingly small moments and relationships that, over time, turned one lonely old man into one lonely old anarchist. What follows are a series of hyper-condensed declarations painting modern society as a dangerous and self-destructive machine. Suffice it to say it is nothing we haven’t heard, especially in the punk/DIY community, but I did enjoy the way they related to his life’s narrative. The true stories of a teenage “sidekick” to a drugged-out degenerate in the 1960s might be something I never get to read about in a zine, and I’m hoping this is a pessimistic view. The photos inside are suggestive and disturbing and perfect, and not something I would ever want to take with me and read on the bus because I don’t like to talk to strangers when I commute. The cover alone is a real conversation starter. I kinda love the cover. –Simon Sotelo ([email protected])

PILTDOWNLAD #9, $5, 8½” x 5½”, perfect bound, 57 pgs.
I really just want to pull block quotes from the first few pages of this zine instead of reviewing it in a traditional sense because when I opened this issue of Kelly Dessaint’s non-fiction zine Piltdownlad, I smiled a little bit wider with every single sentence I read. This must have looked really, really creepy to anyone who happened to see me on the train platform at that time. Issue #9, aka Pamphleteria: The Rise and Fall of Phony Lid, is part one of a three-part series about Dessaint’s adventures in small-press publishing and it is well worth the five bucks you pay to buy this thing. Within the first two pages—TWO PAGES!—the writer has told us that his now-defunct publishing business was basically driven by his “steadfast determination to take a crackpot idea as far as [he] possibly could”; that in his tenure as a producer and printer of the written word, he pissed off writers he published, writers he didn’t publish, and pretty much all of his friends; and that he was directly responsible for driving another publisher so deep into madness that they had to be institutionalized. He admits that he definitely, totally did not have any business ever being a publisher in the first place. I remember thinking, “Well, this is going to be a hard act to follow, this intro,” but it was not. Things got worse—destructive relationships, locksmiths used under false pretenses, family ghosts, roaches, and car trouble. And through it all, shit was getting done: issues were being published, submissions were being solicited. It’s just really inspiring to me to read stories of goals still being accomplished in spite of a life crumbling around the person who’s trying to accomplish them. This drama-riddled story from Dessaint’s real life is a cliffhanger (where’s part two?!) that I finished too soon. –Bianca (Piltdownlad, PO Box 22974,Oakland, CA94609; kellydessaint.com/piltdownlad)

PORTABLE NOT MY SMALL DIARY, $7.50, 8½” x 5 ½”, 212 pgs.
So excellent I didn’t even read the whole thing, as it seemed a disservice to it. While reviewing something, I sometimes find I have to rush to finish because of deadlines. I decided I don’t want to do that to this book. I read the first fifty pages and I loved every moment. The contributors to this anthology are diverse, including names that we all know and love, like Ben Snakepit, John Porcellino and Liz Prince. Some of these comics are about a decade old at this point, but the sheer variety and quality in this book is something to be read slowly, deliberately. Soak in every word and enjoy all the different art styles that compose the medium of autobiographical comics. As a newcomer to Not My Small Diary, I had honestly never heard of it before. This book is an excellent introduction to its scene and purpose. Of the pages I read, stories focused on experiences with fetishes, first dates, engagements, and food. God, just buy a copy, okay? Buy several. You need to get Christmas shopping out of the way and everybody loves autobiographical comics. Grade: A. –Bryan Static (Delaine Derry Green, 459 Main St., Ste 101-263, Trussville, AL35173, mysmallwebpage.com)

RAILROAD SEMANTICS #3, $7.95, 5 ½” x 7”, paperback, 64 pgs.
For those of you, like myself, who have fantasized about train hopping but never done it, this is a wonderful travel guide of what it’s like. Author Aaron Dactyl lets us voyeuristically tag along with him from Portland to Denver in the grips of winter, with many stop offs along the way. With a vague idea of his destination and being at the mercy of the rail schedules, he shows us a world many think they understand, though could never truly know with out firsthand experience. Sprinkled throughout the zine there are rail-centric newspaper clippings and boxcar graffiti art for a very rounded tone. Aaron’s travelogue is excellently written and engaging. Even the rather dull parts of waiting hours for the train to disembark are full of introspective thought and observation. You get the feeling he’s done this before many times. He uses a bit of slang specific to train hopping, but I easily got the gist of what he meant even when I was unfamiliar with the lingo. This zine has planted the travel bug in me again. Worth the read, especially if you’re in a stagnant place in life. This is the third issue out of seven available from Microcosm and it was published in March 2014. –Kayla Greet (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR97227)

RESIST #47, $5 ppd., 5” x 8½”, copied, 50pgs.
The return of Resist, a dense how-to zine describing various fix-it-yourself tasks and a variety of ways to start and maintain a garden from someone who is a shining example of the term “handyman.” These tutorials are heavily interlaced with storytelling and read as such, which makes it a little difficult to visualize what is being explained to me. It did a great job sucking me in at the beginning with a nice holiday tale about blood, guts, and turkey feathers. The stories are personal and seemingly evolve as the author does, but if I were to attempt making anything from this zine I could imagine having a hard time finding my instructions and keeping track of their order. With that said, I am very glad to have read this zine. Nothing in it looks overwhelming and, as far as I’m concerned, everything is practical. From starting a worm bin to making an emergency bike pedal, there is something that will resonate with most of us and that’s the beauty of a storyteller. Not bad after a five-year zine hiatus. –Simon Sotelo (Mat, PO Box 582345, MPLS, MN55458)

RIOT 77 #17, 3 Euros, 8½” x 11”, glossy, 48 pgs.
Nice glossy zine from Ireland that includes interviews with Kid Congo, the Spits, Iron Cross, Canada’s Ugly Pop Records, and John Joseph of the Cro-Mags, whose ceaseless shit-talking, kookiness, and arrogance is always good for a chuckle. (This is, after all, the dude who suggested that the Tohoku tsunami and Fukushima disaster were karmic retribution for Japanese whaling.) There’s also oodles of thoughtful, enthusiastic record and show reviews, and while there’s plenty of nods given to newer bands here, Riot 77’s heart belongs pretty clearly to bands and records of yesteryear. It’s nicely laid out, the interviewer’s knowledgeable of his subjects and clearly passionate about the bands that he covers. Long-running, it’s an impressive effort, especially once you consider this is a one-person affair, which just has to be a hell of a lot of work. Nice job. –Keith Rosson (Riot 77 c/o Cian Hynes, PO Box 11342, Dublin 2, Ireland)

$PARE ¢HANGE #27, $3 ppd., 5½” x 8½”, copied, 30pgs.
I am not familiar with previous issues of $pare ¢hange but I know that I would like to. Issue #27 is filled with a lot of emotion and painfully sweet allusions to the title of this zine. I can only assume that the title is a coincidence, that most of the stories revolve around major ¢hanges like quitting your shitty job, getting rid of roommates or even the death of your dog, to the death of Diaperman. Each story takes you through a different milestone, some bigger than others and some not directly related to the guy writing about it. I hope I don’t come across a story about how this series ended, at least not anytime soon. I’m not ready for that era to come to an end. –Simon Sotelo ($pare ¢hange, PO Box 6023, Chattanooga, TN37401)

$?, 8 ½” x 11”, copied with glossy cover, 88 pgs.
This is a thick zine, with lots of features and interviews throughout the almost ninety pages. The author states that the zine “is based around an unceasing desire to rediscover long-lost, favorite records.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but amongst the interviews in here, a good number are with artists whose origins aren’t anytime in the past couple decades: Dave Davies of The Kinks, Tommy James from the Shondells, Cherie Currie of The Runaways, and John Doe from X. Some more recent artists interviewed include Vinnie Kircher from Jaill, Gary Powell of The Libertines, and Jennifer Clavin from Bleached. There were also stories about Klaus Nomi (which I found real interesting because his is such a unique story), Oingo Boingo, and Bobby Jameson. The diversity in Teenage News is really impressive, but it’s a shame that most of the interviews didn’t go very in-depth. The interviewer often seemed as though he was just going through a list of questions instead of engaging the interviewee in a conversation. Perhaps for the next issue, instead of so many interviews, there could be fewer but they could go more in-depth. Still, for a second issue, this is impressive. The layout is well executed and the questions in the interviews are interesting. I certainly wouldn’t mind reading a third issue. Keep it up! -Kurt Morris ([email protected])

TOM TOM MAGAZINE #18, $6, 8½” x 11”, 62 pgs.
This straight-up magazine available in many fine independent bookstores bills itself as a magazine about female drummers, but really, it is so much more. The majority of features in the mag are interviews, and damn good ones. I don’t even play the drums, and I found every interview to be well done and captivating. There’s an interview with Fay Milton of the British band Savages, another with Gina Schock of The Go Go’s—those two right there go to show that this is not just a magazine about lady drummers, it’s a magazine about some of the coolest and most exciting ones. Above all, Tom Tom has impeccable taste. Because it is so solidly and confidently aware of what’s good, it’s free to branch out of just a few types of music to talk to female percussionists who play the tarima, a big ol’ box that drives the rhythms of the Son Jarrocho music played by women who are keeping the genre alive in Santa Ana, or the first female drummer in the first all-female band performing in a Cirque de Soleil show. The magazine also deals with issues specific to drummers who are women, like “When Boobs Become the Enemy,” a section on how to control your rack while you are doing your drum thing. (Suggestions varied based on cup size and genre of music played. Deeply informative; probably also good for jogging.) Music, book, movie, and gear reviews are in a section in the back, too, so you don’t miss out on those classic musician’s-magazine elements. –Bianca (tomtommagazine.com)

ZINE NATION #2, $3/2/6, 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 42 pgs.
With the demise of Zine World in 2013 there will be a void in zines that cover zine culture. Perhaps it will be up to Zine Nation to take up that role. Although this is their second issue (after a more than ten year hiatus), the zine seems as though it has what it takes to step up to the plate and succeed. Not only are there a plethora of well-written zine reviews (including Razorcake), but also there are some interesting interviews. Interesting because they’re with people doing some different things in zine culture: Ratalia Espigadora created a mobile zine library that can be pulled behind a bicycle, Frandroid is the owner of Great Worm Distro and talks about the challenges of running a distro in our digital age, and Skot Deeming is part of a “collective of curators, artists and scholars dedicated to exploring the intersections between games and contemporary art practice.” These unique interviews were interspersed with the zine reviews, giving the zine some welcome diversity. There were also ads for lots of zines and zine fests. This is a great start and I’m interested in seeing where Zine Nation goes from here. This publication is based out of Toronto, Canada, so the price for a copy will differ depending where you are in the world: $3 US, $2 Canada, and $6 International. Zine Nationalso accepts trades. -Kurt Morris (#4-425 Crawford Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M6G 3J7, [email protected])