Zines reviewed in the 2014 Year-End Zine Review:

2014 Zine Fest Houston Compilation ~ As You Were
Awesome Future ~ Blackguard ~ Cheer The Eff Up
Elvis Country Newsletter ~ Generic ~ Grub Street Grackle
Heart Farts ~ How to French ~ How to Sleep
"I Don't Hate Your Guts" ~ In Salt ~ I Am My Own Stereotype
The Portable NMSD ~ Ker-bloom! ~ Last Night at the Casino
Leeking Ink ~ Map of Fog ~ Mineshaft ~ Musea ~ Nine Gallons
On the Mend ~ Paper and Ink ~ Piltdownlad ~ Poor Lass
Railroad Semantics ~ Randomocity ~ Red Kitty ~ Reglar Wiglar
Rodney's Fanac ~ San Pedro River Review
Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! ~ Snake Pit ~ Social Studies
Space City Nerd ~ Spitball The Duplex Planet ~ Stuck in the Vault
Two Skunks for Valentine's Day ~ The Ken Chronicles ~ AVOW
The Zine Explorer's Notebook ~ Zisk

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.

[2014, 36, $5, HIBF]
Various Artists (published by HIBF)

[2014, 112, $10, Booksmith in San Francisco]
Mitch Clem, ed.

[2011, 64, $4, Microcosm]
Robnoxious

[2014, 44, $5, Quimby's]
Stratu

[2014, 54, $3, Quimby's]
Jonas

[2013, 112, $5, Etsy]
Delaine Derry Green

[2014, 40, $3, Unsolicited Mail]
Billy McCall

[2013; 26; $2, stamps, or fair trade trade]
Davida Gypsy Breier

Copyright 2014-15 David LaBounty