A sample of zines reviewed in this issue . . .
2014 Zine Fest Houston Compilation
I'm not saying Houston is better than Dallas, but they've got a
zine fest, for cripes sake (and a book festival and a domed baseball
stadium . . . I'm just sayin' it gets hot in Texas and the only
thing roasted at a baseball game should be the peanuts). I've always
wanted to go down to Zine Fest Houston, but haven't found the time.
For the past several years, however, they've had a table at the
Houston Indie Book Festival, and I always stop by to grab a copy
of their compilation zine. It's a great publication. They take bits
and pieces from other Houstonites' zines and reprint them so you
get a taste of what you missed. It's always a pleasure to peruse,
and I had to reprint Jason Poland's comic that appeared in this
issue. He draws a web comic called Robbie & Bobby about a boy
and his robot. Classic stuff.
As You Were #3
I picked up the first issue of As You Were because I was interested
in learning about house shows, something I missed out on. I enjoyed
it, and when I recently came across #3, which was twice as big and
free of staples, I grabbed it. It stung a little to thrown down
ten dollars for this - especially at a bookstore that had just dropped
The First Line - but it's worth the cash. Not just about house shows,
this anthology has everything: middle-aged fatness, cute cat and
dog drawings, philosophical tripe, and a Liz Prince centerfold.
I'll keep coming back as long as Mitch keeps collecting these awesome
artists. By the way, as I age, I am drawn (pun intended) to comix
anthologies and books. Day after day, I am buried under an avalanche
of prose - lines and lines of words, mostly crap - unbroken by even
the smallest doodle. It messes with your mind, I tells ya.
Awesome Future: Stories of Victorious Action
This is something I don't think I asked for, but Microcosm threw
it into one of my packages, and I'm glad they did. This comic/zine/booklet
is full of little stories wonderfully illustrated by a zinester
who has been around forever, but this was my first time reading
him. Awesome Future is made up of several smaller stories told in
various formats (single page comic, panel comics, a short picture
book-esque tale). "Vasectomy Day" is my favorite, though
"What to do with Food Once it has been Processed by the Body"
is a close second. Robnoxious is not the best artist out there,
but I think his drawings add an accessibility to his deep (and not
so deep) thoughts. Listening to even a friend talk about his love
for the neti pot or the best way to poop can push the bonds of friendship,
but when those words are accompanied by Robnoxious's brand of art,
it's kind of entertaining.
Blackguard #5: The Science Issue
Don't let the freaky-deaky cover of Popeye and Olive Oyl dissolving
before your eyes as Popeye partakes in genetically modified spinach
turn you away, there are some great comics in this issue of Blackguard.
All science related, my favorite has to be "Science Fucking
Sux!" by Giles & Brett, in which a young lady finds out
how important science is in her life. I hate to call this is zine.
It is so well put together. Other than the small font used for the
stories, I loved the layout. I especially enjoyed the 9(!) pages
of zine and comix reviews. The whole publication is delightfully
bizarre, and I'll keep my eye out for future (and past) issues.
Cheer The Eff Up. #5
I saw this on Quimby's New Stuff This Week list and was intrigued.
Great title. Horrible hand-written cover. One-name author. Already
on issue number 5. Three bucks. Why the hell not? I ordered a copy
and then serendipity. This is a zine lover's zine: old school cut
and paste paragraphs artfully placed around clipart, pictures, and
handwritten titles, all put together with the fresh-from-the-photocopier
feeling. And the writing is pretty damn good. Jonas writes short
tales / letters / advice columns to his young child for future reference.
I don't know what is fiction and what is truth, and I don't care.
The writing holds its own emotional truth (no idea what that means,
but it sounds cool; I probably stole it from someone else). And
the best part: Jonas let me reprint part of this issue as the preface
for Workers Write! More Tales from the Cubicle. There is a wonderful
passage about not settling that so perfectly echoed my own office-life
experiences, I could have written it (though not as well). I was
just in the middle of putting together More Tales from the Cubicle
and I knew I had to have it. That's the beauty of zines. There are
certain paths that we all follow, and when one of us writes what
some of us have seen or done, there is a connection that can't be
duplicated by mass-market publications.
I Am My Own Stereotype: The My Small Diary Collection
I was doing a random search on Etsy for zines and I came across
Delaine's store. Her newish book, a collection of all three issues
of her zine plus new pages and commentary, looked interesting. Plus,
there was a drawing of a PEZ on the cover, so I had to get it. When
I received it, I was intrigued by the return address: Trussville,
Alabama. Lots of cool things escape Alabama, very few stay. The
moment I opened the book, I recognized the artist. I had seen My
Small Diary or at least Delaine's drawings before, I just didn't
recognize her by name or the cover of her book. Which is excellent.
Delaine started drawing these one-page diary comics in 1993. Not
daily comics, each one represents a season (Fall 1993, Spring 2000,
and so forth). It's a great book. The comics are distinct; the stories
are simple, unedited looks at Delaine's life. I wrote Delaine a
fan letter and included a copy of the first issue of The Vellum
Underground, as well as a PEZ from Australia. Delaine sent me back
a nice note with her new book . . .
Last Night at the Casino #7
I love all zines and zinesters equally, but what really tickles
my fancy are workplace zines. Billy sent me Last Night at the Casino
- a half-sized zine full of awesomeness. Billy writes about what
he sees during the night shifts as a casino worker. Each vignette
fascinated me, and I loved the list of nicknames for certain number
combinations in craps. Winner, 7!
Leeking Ink #32: vida silvestre
I'm the guy who would love to look at your vacation pictures. I
don't care where you went. Show me your pictures and tell me your
stories, and I will hang on your every word as if you were Marco
Polo. It's not like I haven't travelled or lived in a dozen places
(including 'the Korea'), but as the kids get older, it's harder
and harder to go on adventures of our own. I guess that's why I
like hearing other people's adventure stories, which is why I love
travel zines, especially Davida's family trip to Puerto Rico. This
is a perfectly put together travel zine with a pleasing format,
readable prose, and plenty of pictures, though I would expect nothing
less from zine royalty. Lines that garnered the biggest head nod:
"There are times as a parent when you are forced to make decisions
with no right answers. At 5:30 a.m. we found ourselves standing
over a small puddle of vomit in the airport parking lot. We had
to decide then and there - do we go continue forward to Puerto Rico
or just go home?" I'm glad they continued on; I don't think
I would have been able to.