Featured Zine Reviews, Issue #84

Feb 17, 2015

Illustration by evanthewolff.tumblr.com

, $7-10, 8” x 6”, 68 pgs.You take a playlist of every song you remember being impactful over the course of a year. You take that journal and you illustrate six songs every page, representing a week of your life. Sounds great! Sounds like a more structured Snakepit, or a more experimental American Elf! But, wait, there’s not actual narrative to follow. It’s implied narrative, shown through emotions and content of the songs themselves. Snippets of lyrics will become inspirations for doodles, six per page. It turns out to be a little too literal for its own good, but I can’t knock them any points for trying. The drawings aren’t bad, but the content of the book gets a little repetitive by the end. An interesting experiment, I look forward to seeing what Pijpers does next. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (ampijpers.tumblr.com)

BEHIND THE WHEEL: A LYFT DRIVER’S LOG#2, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 56 pgs.
I don’t use ride shares. After growing up with a slightly paranoid Mexican grandmother who was fearful of me being murdered while at sleepovers with my school friends, I am wary of getting into even the most regulated cars with strangers. Through the drunken rants of my roommate’s boyfriend about the evils of Uber—“They steal your information! They can always see your location!”—unfortunately, after checking out the suggested online supplementary reading, it seems that Lyft life is less than sweet. The unfair wages for drivers and company silencing of differing opinions about these policies has only strengthened my initial distaste for ridesharing. Clocking in at fifty-six pages of pure text, Dessaint’s accounts offer a unique perspective to these rideshares that many people forget: the driver’s point of view. I found myself worried that overly drunk riders would vomit in his car; I cringed when a couple used his backseat as their own personal makeout haven; and I clenched my teeth while reading the conversations between tech bros and conservative republicans. I commend Dessaint for his ability to navigate the waters, as these situations all seemed like torture to me. Above all, Dessaint is inarguably enamored with the idea of San Francisco: the art, the culture, the history. Yet, his experiences tell tales more of frustration with what the city has become in recent years, rather than the happiness of being in the city he’s always loved. He and his wife live in nearby Oakland, as they cannot afford to live within San Francisco due to the influx of tech workers raising rent prices. The fact that his dream city is still a bridge away is a source of bitterness for Dessaint. I’ll drive myself around, thank you. –Ashley Ravelo (Kelly Dessaint, PO Box 22974, Oakland, CA 94609, [email protected])

CERTAIN PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW Volume #6, $1 or trade, 4 ¼” x 5 ½”, copied, 9 pgs.
A short, short comic of weird characters the author saw driving the bus. It’s humorous but way too short. It consists of nine one-panel pictures then, done. Another annoying thing is every other page is blank for no reason. If someone wants to hand something like this out to their friends, cool, but to make someone review it or expect someone to go to any trouble to get it just doesn’t seem fair to me. I would suggest waiting for enough material and putting out a solid effort next time because the comics weren’t bad. A good way to spend a very literal couple of minutes. –Craven Rock (aimeepijpers.net)

, $2, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 54 pgs.
The layout of Dreams of Donuts is one of the best I’ve seen. The neat and even lettering and lovely panel borders that ranged from tiny hearts to railroad tracks made reading an ease and a delight. Each of the three autobiographical short illustrated stories became whimsical and fun through her detailed, black-line illustrations. I especially liked her punk perspective on movie reviews. For example, she gave Predator 2 four out of five donuts because “Predators hate the cops as much as we do.” –Ashley Ravelo (Heather Wreckage, 5867 San Pablo Ave, Oakland,CA 94608, [email protected])

EFF’D UP #2, $?, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 48 pgs.
This is the second installment of Robin’s serial resource both for her own efforts at sobriety as well as anyone else who could use some help. The format of zines as a resource and semi-public forum makes a lot of sense, especially for this subject matter. Both (zines, substance use/abuse) run deep through punk and counterculture, and so having an easy and accessible way to pick many brains and experiences from our own ranks produces pretty helpful results. This issue packs a lot more muscle than the last one, with interviews, stories, tips for socializing, essays, and art that present a fairly wide spectrum of experience and subject matter, rather than one simple, linear, “This is how you quit drinking/using drugs.” For example, one interview concentrates on the interplay between the subject’s mental health and community activism, both of which are in no way tangential to substance use, either as concern or as constructive activity. Another interview goes from the (thankfully) established practice of needle exchanges, towards brainstorming up a dog-walking service explicitly for people to get clean through. And sitting over all this are the efforts of the editor herself, whose writing for this issue demonstrates a more acrid, visceral clarity (first issue was at the beginning of her sobriety, this one comes one hundred days in), as she, through compiling and writing this, once again works furiously at something new that is useful and fulfilling, rather than surrendering to old, destructive patterns. A great resource and highly recommended. –Dave Brainwreck ([email protected])

FEEDBACK #13, $2, 5½” x 6”, copied, 36pgs.
Feedback is a simple comics zine chronicling part of the music scene in Portland, OR through show posters and one-three page comic reenactments. This issue is a special issue. “The Catch Up Issue,” because our author prefaces the zine with an anecdote about the changing lifestyle a first-time father experiences with so little time to go to shows and write zines,. I feel lucky that we are getting something so dense and expressive. The comics are fun and Isaacson isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself and the music scene he’s apart of. It reminds me of the many nights that go by wishing I would go out to more shows but more and more I’ve chosen to stay in. If I read more zines like this, I would more than likely get out of my goddamn apartment. –Simon Sotelo ([email protected])

LIKE FIGHTING THE OCEAN, $4, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 80 pgs.
In the words of Paul Renn: “This zine is about punk rock and skateboarding, that’s it. They are inseparably linked in my mind...” Renn’s compulsion to keep skating and being punk into his thirties is a testament to the power of DIY culture as an alternative to banal mainstream society. Hey, as Renn states, “Age is no excuse to suck at life.” Although his sentiments are enough to win me over, the zine also features accounts of other thirtysomething skaters, interviews with Max from Scholastic Deth, one of my favorite bands, and Brian from Night Birds, and Renn’s tour journal with Reservoir. Although Max is no longer an active musician, he’s a history professor who encourages subversive ideas in the classroom. Although Brian is a father, he continues to tour and perform live with Night Birds. Ultimately, the skater anecdotes and interviews echo a similar theme: If you love something, don’t give it up because society says you should have grown out of it.Like Fighting the Ocean is an outstanding reminder to ignore the naysayers and keep at what makes you happy. –Sean Arenas (Paul Renn, 1919 San Pablo Ave. Apt. #108 Oakland, CA 94612, [email protected])

NO HOPE, $5, 5 ½” x 8”, printed, 24 pgs.
If you’re not familiar with the work of Marcos Siref, he has an illustration in pretty much every issue of this zine. Even did the cover of #74. He’s published comics in As You Were #2 and #3. And has done cover art for The Chill Dawgs, Spokenest, and the Lenguas Largas / Mind Spiders Sister Series. With those projects he typically has some kind of prompt, but No Hope is his own beast, and it’s a wild one. There’s some crazy shit in here. It’s fuckin’ awesome. I mean, the illustration of the sperm trying to fertilize the piece of pizza?!?! That alone is worth the price. Pick it up! –Daryl (Marcos Siref, http://upthameex.wordpress.com)

PSYCHO.MOTO #21, $?, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 24 pgs.
This is the “family” issue of a long-running zine springing from the Antagonist Art’s Movement (which highlights new, obscure artists and writers who challenge the mainstream). This is the only exposure I’ve gotten to this particular “art movement,” and while their opening creed is a position I unexceptionally respect, I was hoping for a little more challenge in the subject matter. A lot of this issue consists of cute, endearing, sentimental stories about the authors’ families (accepting Dad, then funny Dad, then an accepting and funny Dad). Plenty of fucked-up families have ran soldering irons around in people’s lives, but I don’t think it’s only legitimate to present that—it’s very real to recognize and appreciate the functional and positive aspects of your own family. I was just left feeling like I’d eavesdropped on someone’s conversation with a good friend, and not with any of the mental or emotional exhilaration that I try to get from art. There are also fanzine reviews and a pretty decent interview with two Iranian street artists who now reside in New York City. –Dave Brainwreck (antagovision.com/psycho-moto-zine-archive, [email protected])

PURE ENTERTAINMENT#1, $10, 7½” x 5”, 72 pgs.
A wildly varying collection of comics. Quite a few of them remind me of older comic masters. There are two strips specifically that ape the styles of George Herriman (Krazy Kat) and Will Eisner. Some of the strips are way better than others, but they’re from many different eras and artists, so it’s hard to compare most of them to each other. One complaint that I can’t get past is that the book is too small for some of the art included. There’s nothing wrong with digest size, but some of this art looks squashed! Grade: B-. –Bryan Static (75 Byram Lake Rd., Mount Kisca, NY 10549, lookmomcomics.com)

RABBIT, RABBIT, RABBIT #3, 7” x 8 ½”, copied, 20 pgs.
This is an awesome old school-style zine with crappy drawings, legibly handwritten sections, and typed-up and glued-around photocopier art, clip art, and what have you. It looks awesome! There’s an ecstatic tour diary with his friends in the band Dipshit and a couple of other inspiring tales of travel and fun and being young and punk. The author’s so down with the cause he lists his phone number! –Craven Rock ([email protected])

SPIDDER #17, 8 ½” x 5 ½”, copied, 20 pgs.
Within a nice homey design of cut ‘n’ paste and comic illustration are some personal stories and writing from an old school (as in ‘80s old school) skater. He covers a vast range of topics, like friends who tried to recruit him into a quixotic hunting down of William S. Burroughs and Hasil Adkins and coming back with more than enviable results. Most of the pieces end up coming back around to skating, not just because it’s his favorite thing but also because he uses it as an existential and philosophical theme. The author has a deep connection to the sport in a zen sort of way, making for a deep and thoughtful read. A must read for skaters. Recommended for everyone else. –Craven Rock (Jamie, 1925 Hwy. 69 S, Savannah, TN 38372)

STAYING IN, 8 ½” x 5 ½”, copied, 12 pgs.
A young New Jersey punk writes about his experiences going to shows and getting out and living life. Not bad—lots of descriptions of bands and good times at shows—certainly not groundbreaking or anything, but the author has a fresh voice, a bright-eyed and bushytailed view of the (his) world, and a buttload of potential. Plan on Staying In. –Craven Rock (No address listed)

TURNTABLE TOUR: OCTOBER 2014, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 12 pgs.
This zine is to accompany this fall’s Turntable Tour, a four-city travelling visual art show featuring work by punk stalwarts Tim Kerr, Chris Shary, Kepi Ghoulie, and more. Within these mere twelve pages you get illustrations of the artists, as well as some background on their practices, and some quick interviews. Though I wasn’t able to attend one of the shows (they all took place in the South), I am familiar with these people’s art and found the content of the zine a nice accompaniment to my existing appreciation of their artistic output. But what I especially like about the zine is that it not only featured the people whose work was in the show, but also talked about some of the people who were helping set up the shows. A true testament to how community-oriented this project was. If the Turntable Tour ever finds its way to your neck of the woods, definitely check it out! –Daryl (RF Daniel, 712 O’Shaughnessy Ave., Huntsville, AL 35801, [email protected])

WELCOME TO THE CULTURAL ÆTHER#9, $1 ppd., 8½” x 5½”, 24 pgs.
Another visually stunning ish. Collages with text are very precisely done. The texts are longer form this time and have to do with religion, mostly. It kind of bothered me that there is no attribution given to the authors of the texts. The zine’s editor says it is because ideas should be spread, not the author’s fame. I have to say that I liked it better when shorter bits of text were used in the collages. One of the text bits is in such a tiny font that it hurts my eyes. Still, many of the pages are very artfully done and this zine is definitely worth the price. –Lisa Weiss (The Cultural Æther, 2440 E. Tudor Rd. #364, Anchorage, AK 9950)