Featured Zine Reviews Razorcake 111—Maximum Rock’n’roll, Adult Crash, Last Night At The Casino, Razorblades & Aspirin, Slingshot

Aug 27, 2019

Illustration by Abdul Vas | (click for full size)

$4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 160 pgs.
It’s the final print issue of MRR. I’ll try to save my editorializing to a minimum, but I think it’d be lame not to mention the undeniable impact MRR has had on punk culture since its inception in 1982 (and as a radio show before that). As an older punk who navigated all this stuff pre-internet, MRR was an invaluable lifeline and absolutely formative in my understanding of punk, politics, and DIY culture. Throughout the decades, the zine could be riveting, and holier than thou, and compelling, and bighearted, and reactionary, and snobby, and well intentioned and moving. It was always informative, and always the sum of its parts; hundreds of people all tackling something together. Times change, and the print world has changed dramatically with it. Whether it’s a big deal or not that MRR is done is up to you. I know I’ll miss it, but I’m also profoundly grateful for the connections and knowledge it provided me as a young kid trying to figure stuff out. This final issue features interviews with Winston Smith(!), Apsurd, Provoke, Bush Tetras, the Toronto record store Faith/Void, and tons more. Plus photo spreads, international scene reports, columns, ads, and allll those reviews. It’s fitting too that designer Martin Sprouse, the cover artist for MRR #1, does the cover for this final issue as well. See ya around, MRR, it’s been real. –Keith Rosson (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 3852, SF, CA 94609)

$6, 10” x 7”, full-color copied, 24 pgs.
Part of an ongoing series about Kettner’s past life-altering experiences. In this issue, adult Kett cleans the house of an eccentric doctor whose house is filled with risqué artwork and morbid keepsakes. Kett accurately draws with detail the layout of the house along with its curiosities—including the photos of erections and Snow White keepsakes. The second story is a very young Kett dealing with several deaths in the family, all before kindergarten. Kett’s artwork is cartoonish with photographic realism. It is a full color comic but only two colors are utilized: a soft purple for the first story and a coral/salmon color for the second. It’s really quite nice to look at and Kett is up there with some of the disciplined punk comic artists alongside Nate Powell. –Rick V. (Jim Kettner, kettnerd.com)

BROKEN PENCIL #83, $7.95, 8” x 10½”, magazine, 72 pgs.
A magazine of “zine culture and the independent arts.” Packed from start to finish, this seasonally released publication presents its spring issue. Its cover feature is about guerrilla gardening, the origins, instructions on how to do-it-yourself, and an interview with a guerrilla gardener. 2019’s top indie-writing winners (of a Broken Pencil contest) are featured, zine and book reviews, and a paper cutout stapler man is included. A good resource for checking out new zines when not at a zine fest! –Tricia Ramos (Broken Pencil, PO Box 203, Station P, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S7 Canada)
As someone who has found peace in taking leisurely strolls through cemeteries, this zine is a goldmine of info for exploring them with new eyes and new insight!

CEMETERY MAPS, $?, 9” x 12”, printed, 64 pgs.
I love this. Over thirty different maps and different contributors fill out this giant love letter zine to cemeteries. Inside this perfect bound, oversized paperback zine are hand-drawn, detailed guides to different zinesters favorite cemeteries across the United States, Europe, and even one each from Mexico and Argentina. Every page features a different cemetery map, along with a short history of the cemetery, specific points of interest, and fun facts! As someone who has found peace in taking leisurely strolls through cemeteries, this zine is a goldmine of info for exploring them with new eyes and new insight! –Tricia Ramos (Cemetery Maps, amymartincomics.com)

LADYHUMP #9, $?, 5 ¾” x 8 ½”, Laserjet, 46 pgs.
A photozine that appears to be put together by a group of people who know how to party. Full color shots of bands, booze, motorcycles, more bands, camping, custom vans, still more bands… There is a lot of fun being had in these pages. I dig what’s going on here. –Ty Stranglehold (Ladyhump, LadyHump.org)

LAST NIGHT AT THE CASINO #14 & #15, $5, 4” x 5”, copied, 38 pgs. and 46 pgs.
God damn I love this zine. Billy has put together a double issue and I devoured both in the course of an hour. I wish there was another issue for me to read. For those not familiar with Last Night at the Casino, Billy, a guy with a punk background, works as a dealer in a casino. He deals all sorts of games and has done it for over six years. He began his career in a Native American casino in New Mexico but these two issues find him with a job at a much larger operation in Baltimore, where he now resides. Billy brings us in from the start—his first day. He details his anxieties at this bigger casino and how he felt in over his head. But we follow along with him as he eases into place. He introduces us to his bosses, coworkers, and the regulars. In great detail he goes into the environment and the nuances of the characters. He takes us along and builds the tension to make us wonder if he’ll ever have the opportunity to deal craps, which is his favorite game. For anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to work in a casino, check this out. Even if it’s not your thing, the world of gambling is such a weird alternate universe that Last Night at the Casino is worth your time. –Kurt Morris ([email protected])

I went into this expecting your typical tired prototypical scene history—yeah, we all sat around, got drunk, got into fights, whatever—and to some degree, received it. But Punk in a Foreign Space, for one, is about a scene that isn’t well-known. I doubt most of the punks I know could name even one Russian punk band, and I couldn’t either, and despite this, Herbert’s story compelled me. You don’t have to know the bands to know the story. Herbert does a fantastic job of translating these people, bands, and cities into the recognizable while maintaining what makes it distinctive. Perhaps it is his academic background, but I found myself compelled by some of his deeper claims about the nature and psychology of punk wherever you may be, and that’s the real meat of this zine. Punk is only universal to a point, but where it is is what makes it worthwhile. When it becomes more, for Herbert, than “style and music,” it begins to “embody possibilities, empowerment, and alternatives to the monotonous lives” we live. After reading Punk in a Foreign Space, I’m excited to see where Herbert’s analysis of these possibilities lies: the book that this zine precedes comes out in September from Microcosm. Chapters of this zine are available as Punks Around #1 and Punks Around #5. –jimmy cooper (punksaround.bigcartel.com or [email protected])

RAZORBLADES & ASPIRIN #5, $?, 5 ¾” x 8 ½”, Laserjet, 44 pgs.
This is one beautiful punk and hardcore photozine: the photos themselves, the colors, the layout. It all jumps off the page. As far as writing goes, there is a brief introduction and a couple of pages of record reviews; other than that are all-out gig photos. I really enjoyed this. –Ty Stranglehold (Razorblades & Aspirin, PO Box 23173, Richmond, VA 23223)

SLEEPWALKING (2019 reissue) $5, 5½” x 8½”, full-color copied, 32 pgs.
A comic about a bunch of punk kids hanging out in the park who decide to go to a house show. Some are dealing with alcoholism, some with breakups, and some with boredom. It’s just a day-in-the-life of these punk types. Oh, they are also portrayed as very realistic anthropomorphic woodland creatures. Clementine the possum, Mary the rat, Douglas the squirrel, et cetera. It’s a very “mumblecore” story. No huge plot or arc. Just a bunch of animals foraging from point A to point B. However, the artwork is awe-inspiring with hand-painted everything. The water colored backgrounds are especially good. You don’t see a lot of this handiwork in current comics. That cover is damn impressive too. –Rick V. (Lauren Monger, silversprocket.net)

SLINGSHOT #129, free, 11” x 18”, newsprint, 15 pgs.
Quarterly independent radical newspaper Slingshot is back with their summer issue. A really great essay includes a cover story on “sterilization in the face of climate change,” a think piece of one individual’s choice to get tubal ligation as a form of responsibility to not procreate in our current climate and instead focus on activism and bettering the world we live in. I also really enjoyed the other cover story on phone addiction in society and how it affects our brain chemistry and is essentially making us idiots in this internet age. Slingshot never falls short on eye-opening and thought provoking essays. It continues to be an essential free educational and radical newsprint. –Tricia Ramos (Slingshot, PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703)

SPIDDER #20, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 30 pgs.
The band The Pine Hill Haints have toured Ireland many times, and over the course of time have collected ghost stories, haunting tales, and legends. In this issue of Spidder, we’re introduced to them. “The Legend of the Hellfie Club” is one such ghost story that is known by so many Irish that there are slightly different versions included in this zine. Short stories of card games with men who have hoofed feet, eerie meetings in lighthouses, and a cave of cats to name a few. Also included is a separate mini-zine in full color (featuring the story of the cave of cats). Perfect mix of spooky legends and illustrations of cat people to set the mood. –Tricia Ramos (Spidder, 1207 N. Wood Ave., Florence, AL 35630, [email protected])

SUPER COOL AND STUFF #8, $3, 5½” x 8½”, black and white, copied, 24 pgs.
A comic zine about Ricky’s obsession with wrestling. It’s mostly comprised of one-page comics about body slamming his sister or skipping out on dances to watch ECW. There is a longer narrative in the middle about his wrestling action figures that tie into Ricky’s love for his grandmother. It’s really very touching. Ricky draws his characters big and prominent with wild facial expressions. And some of those strips are laugh out loud funny. It’s a quick and fun read. Even if you don’t care about wrestling. –Rick V. (Ricky Vigil, rickyvigil.com )

The intro states this zine is a celebration of Microcosm Publishing’s anniversary, “dedicated to showing that working through baggage and creating the ideal community is what we are all in this for.” There’s some real honest work being done herein: one essayist discusses a painful coming to terms with past behaviors he’s been called out on; another works through gender dysphoria and abuse. A chorus of voices in other essays affirm that yes, Microcosm is a great place to work and a fantastic group of individuals working towards a common goal. It’s odd, then, that the longest essay in here, by Microcosm head Joe Biel, is about how he has “outgrown his former scene.” Biel has been accused of abusive behavior by his former business partner/wife, a quick internet search reveals. He counters here by responding that his abuse was due to undiagnosed autism. Biel says all the right things about his subsequent self-work and being sorry—but the dictionary, he says, defines abuse as “callously indifferent.” Abuse doesn’t apply to his situation because his disability made it hard for him to empathize. Putting these conditions on his apology adds an undermining defensiveness to the proceedings. And it’s odd his essay reminds readers that he checked out of the scene when the zine’s stated intent is creating community by working through baggage. This garbled message draws attention away from the honest processing and emotional labor of some writers herein. –Michael T. Fournier (Microcosm, 2752N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)

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