Featured Zine Reviews from Razorcake Issue 95: New Wave Chicken, Every Day Failures, A Diy Guide to Searching for Weird Shit, Maximum Rock’n’roll, and Xerography Debt

Jan 30, 2017

EVERY DAY FAILURES #1, $?, 5” x 8”, 28 pgs.
This is a tough but rewarding read. It’s the story of a newly single mother who was raising her two young daughters in a punk house then suddenly relocates to her aunt’s house in the suburbs. What we get is a gripping tale of poverty, classism, expectations forced by others, and struggling to get by. Not only does it tackle the age-old question of, “What happens to punks when they grow older?” it gives us answers that are hard to hear and thoroughly expected. I recommend this highly if you can track down a copy. Author Sarah B. has a way of being blunt that sticks with, just like the best punk songs. –Bryan Static (Punch Drunk Press, 816 N Main #200, Lansing, KS 66043, pioneerspress.com)

$?, 5 ¼” x 7 ¾”, 14 pgs.
Performance artist Kayla Tange made this zine to document a show in which audience members anonymously wrote down their kinks and secrets. This zine stitches that performer/audience interplay into one piece with lovely layout that features confessions interspersed between transparency photos of a woman—Tange herself, I think—dressed in lingerie and a nun’s habit. You can read a handwritten note about someone who used to “listen for [their] dad and step mom having sex” on one page and see a nun praying next to a dildo on the next. Tange opens A Bare Witness with short essay on the satisfaction that comes with being a stripper, which helps put the whole thing in context. A wild ride, for sure. Now that I’m done reading, I can mail this copy to the Vatican. –Jim Joyce (kaylatange.com)

DEMONS OF THE MIDWEST #1 and #2, $1 each, 8 ½ ” x 11”, copied, 16 and 17 pgs.
Sharon and I go back a ways, but we’d fallen out of touch and only recently did I reconnect with her. Thus, I was excited to read her zine that caught me up on some recent big moments in her life. The layout is a mixture of crudely drawn (but kinda endearing) cartoons and text describing each episode. Her experiences in the past few years have been enough to last her a lifetime: her husband won a bunch of money and a trip on Wheel of Fortune, they got a divorce, and she had to find a roommate and learn to live again as a single person. In the midst of this she dealt with the full range of manic and depressive behavior that led to her being hospitalized on more than one occasion. While there are two separate issues of the zine here, they’re meant to be read together. Although the layout wasn’t always the easiest to follow, I got the idea; this is scary stuff to deal with and Sharon isn’t afraid to mess up (sometimes big time). But the fact that she’s sharing all of it is, I hope, a rewarding experience for her, and a hopeful one for all who read her tale. -Kurt Morris (Sharon Gissy, 5102 N. Wolcott #2, Chicago, IL 60640)

LIFE WITHOUT BOOZE, $2, 4” x 6”, copied, 14 pgs.
This is a pretty short zine, but it covers some important material: an addict’s recovery. Taryn has some powerful things to say about her six years without alcohol and how it’s changed her life in a positive way. But it hasn’t always been easy for her. However, with time comes the ability to reflect on how she has grown and become a better person. What’s remarkable about Life without Booze is how those who haven’t had problems with alcohol can also gather insight from Taryn. It was wonderful to read someone else write that we have more control in our lives than we might know, that what’s especially important is how we react to our challenges. This is a powerful punch of reality that deserves more than one read. Recommended. Life without Booze is available on Taryn’s Etsy shop: ladyteeth.etsy.com. –Kurt Morris (Taryn Hipp, PO Box 542, Hilltown, PA 18927)

Julia Eff, Detroit’s cut and paste mastermind, has the cryptozoology guide to meet every cryptid hunter’s needs. For those not in the know, a cryptid is an animal whose existence is unsubstantiated. This foldout zine gives us a map of the U.S. complete with over thirty cryptids and their approximate locations. You want the Ghost Deer? Get in Jimbo’s wagon and head north on the 101. Is it the Goatman ye seek? Then onto Texas, my son. Head northeast from the Lone Star State and from there and you may bag a Fouke Monster, a Wampus Cat, and a Pope Licker. Eff is here to support us in our hunt, because “cryptid-seeking can be a great way to get out of the house, and you will hopefully definitely not die” in the process. Google will tell you otherwise. But that’s only because “[t]he internet clearly just wants all the creepies for themselves.” I can’t feign objectivity. I love this stuff. Buy it—it comes with a Bigfoot sticker. —Jim Joyce (Pioneer Press, 100 E Kansas Ave, #248 Lansing, KS 66043, pioneerspress.com)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #399, $4.99, 8 ½” x 11”, newsprint ,120pgs.
Issue 399 is an oozy boy. We get a magical trip to North Texas to get the latest what’s what deets. These include: longest running venue—1919 Hemphill; place to lurk on Jeff Burke—Mad World record store; list of local bands and including one with an allusive name—Pavel Chekov. What follows is a fine as wine interview with darkrockers, Massive, and the underpass talk with Black Panties, collector of model bridges and light-up shoes. He keeps a positive attitude and gives some life advice that doubles as a how-to for solo artists who want to make young punkers slog as their backing band. Legitimately cool, sweet, and uplifting was the interview with Skate Witches, an all femme skate crew. Aside from all the me/me/me performative shit that is unavoidable with rock scenes of all kinds, the interview points out the Skate Witches’ nice-as-hell community work. Namely, making skate parks and skate culture friendlier spaces for young girls who want to shred without being bro-tally intimidated. And near the end, a bittersweet piece on ABC No Rio’s loss of its original location. Maximum gives a eulogy of sorts and graces us with pre-deconstruction day photos of the space’s beautiful textures and grimy ambiance. Were there any comics in this issue? (How will my mom know it’s still cool?) A toothsome read as always. Onward to #400! –Jim Joyce (Maximum Rock’n’Roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA, 94146, maximumrocknroll.com)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #400, $4.99, 8 ½” x 11”, newsprint, 120 pgs.
What can one say about Maximum Rock’n’roll that hasn’t already been said? This is issue # 400, which is truly an amazing feat for any monthly print magazine, but one that exclusively covers punk and has been doing so since the early ‘80s? Admirable, to say the least. One thing you can say about MRR, is that for better or worse, the magazine has never been stagnant—they’re always attempting to progress. This issue is their annual “shitworker issue,” dedicated to highlight the work of the MRR “shitworkers”—aka all of the people who donate their time to make the magazine happen every month. I might not relate to everything that MRR puts within their pages after four hundred issues in the same way as I did when I was a skateboarding punker kid in the late ‘80s reading MRR for the first time, but if you’re a socially aware, politically conscious punk and you’re not picking up MRR from time to time, then you’re really missing something. –Mark Twistworthy (MRR, PO BOX 460760, San Francisco, CA 94146)

NEW WAVE CHICKEN #3, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 48 pgs.
New Wave Chicken reminds me of how great zines can be. The passion that is put into this zine is obvious on every page. This isn’t a graphic design masterpiece; the strength and focus is in the writing. This installment is loosely the surf issue, with articles on the music of Agent Orange, as well as an interview with Mike Palm, tales of vandalism, cock fighting, an interview with Atom Ellis who played with Link Wray, The Cars, and the Tubes, and one interview pertaining to chicken farming with Rob “The Baron” Miller from Amebix (the editor, Steve Hart, is a chicken farmer as well). There are a lot of interesting pieces in between the previously mentioned that are worth your time as well. A great zine, like a great record, makes you believe in what is going on, and inspires you to get involved. New Wave Chicken does just that. –Matt Average (PO Box 880081, Pukalani, HI 96788)

OH…CRACKERS! #3, $3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 16 pgs.
Bill Hauser finally continues what he started fifteen years ago with another series of comics dedicated to taking the piss out of the punk scene. You’ve got Punks on Wheels (“Fighting the adult crash one washed-up ex-punk at a time”), the Poser Patrol calling kids out for wearing the wrong shoes in the mosh pit, drunk punks pooping in bathtubs, and a planet of… gasp! record collectors! Not only are these comics pitch-perfect in mocking the inanities of the punk scene (in the sort of loving way that can only be done by someone who’s been there), they are rendered brilliantly in Hauser’s intricate Jack Davis on speed (metal) style. Hoping I don’t have to wait another fifteen years for the next issue. –MP Johnson (etsy.com/shop/BillHauserArt)

PHANTOM LIMB, $?, 3 ½” x 5 ½”, copied, 30 pgs.
Phantom Limb feels like you’re taking a look inside someone’s diary. A perzine and collage zine, this was one of I really liked this cycle. The collages of drawings with typewritten thoughts felt very fluid and like a stream of consciousness. From their personal memories and thoughts to facts about the moon and earth’s cycles and how they relate, this zine goes from one thought to the next, and features some very cool drawings. It read like sneaking a look inside someone’s diary, experiencing their innermost thoughts and feelings. –Tricia Ramos (Phantom Limb, PO Box 1285, Flagstaff, AZ 86002)

XEROGRAPHY DEBT #39, $4, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, printed, 68 pgs.
A self-proclaimed “Meta Zine,” Xerography Debt is a review zine for zine readers by zine writers! The zines reviewed inside have been hand selected by the reviewers—either ones they’ve bought or traded. The difference between this and other zine reviews is that all the zines inside are ones the reviewers have enjoyed; with some constructive criticism but an overall enjoyment of the material. Cover and back cover were purple card stock with really cool Prince-themed drawings/homages. I would suggest this for any avid zine reader who’s looking for more to read. (How many times did I say “zine” in this? Yikes.) –Tricia Ramos (Xerography Debt, PO Box 347, Glen Arm, MD 21057, leekinginc.com)

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