Zine Reviews: January 2011

Posted by blatantblithe on January 21, 2011 Blog posts | zine reviews | Zines | | One comment

All I Want Is Everything #1
Caitlin, USA – saltonmyskinATgmailDOTcom

I have to say, this is the best zine I’ve read for a long time!  It’s 54 pages long and half-sized, which provided me with plenty of reading material on my recent 4-hour train journey from Wales to Nottingham.  Caitlin is a professional writer, and this really shows in the quality of her work.  It was one of those reads where I kept coming across sections that I wanted to highlight, and/or rip out and pin on my wall, especially her discussion of the view that men who rape are some unstoppable force of nature that women must spend their time avoiding (why do we never see ads that read “DON’T RAPE. DON’T HIT YOUR GIRLFRIENDS” ?)!  That section was taken from a piece about victim blaming and rape culture, where she writes a letter to Elly Jackson (La Roux) expressing her disappointment in the comments Elly made about how “some girls” (read: ‘sluts’) shouldn’t be surprised when the men they attract beat them up (read the F-Word’s take on the interview here)!  That was my favourite piece, I think – she argues very clearly and passionately against the common victim-blaming viewpoints, such as the  idea that a man who rapes will always be a man who rapes, or only a certain type of woman ever gets raped.  Elsewhere in the zine, Caitlin writes about the pointlessness of nostalgia, including her nostalgia for her 90s teen years, and how we tend to look at the past through rose-tinted glasses.  Another highlight was a long piece on running, strength and femininity, where Caitlin discusses running her first marathon, and the feelings of strength and serenity that running gives her.  She believes that according to our culture, women must be weak in order to be sexy, and “armchair psychologists” try to claim that women are not “designed” to be strong – but she argues that this is bullshit.  The layouts in this zine are very simple and plain, but Caitlin admits in the zine that she’s a “creature of words”, not visuals.  The quality of writing more than makes up for this. It’s just how I like perzines – long, well-written, and full of interesting ideas that I mull over in my mind for days after!

A Coast to Coast Journal
Catherine Redfern, UK – catherineATdurgeDOTorg
A Coast to Coast JournalYes, Catherine Redfern, writer and founder of The F Word, has written a zine!  And what a lovely zine it is.  Published a month ago, the zine documents Catherine’s 190-mile walk from the West coast of England to the East coast via the Lake District – St. Bees to Robin Hoods Bay (check out the C2C website here).  Whilst on the walk, Catherine kept a diary, and drew and doodled every day.  The result is a lovely 60-page long hand-drawn and -written story about their 2-week journey.  Inside, we read about what they did on each day, the pubs they stayed in, conversations they had, walking across bogs and streams, and the nasty weather conditions they faced getting through the countryside in the mud, rain, and eventually the sun!  The zine was crammed with sweet drawings on almost every page, including diagrams of what they carried in their rucksacks, and what was in the hotels (e.g. sheep outside the window and a four-poster bed in the Lion Inn).  The zine is very well-drawn, in a cute cartoon-ish way, and the writing is always interesting and sometimes quite funny.  It’s even inspired me to look into doing the Coast to Coast walk in the near future!

Ennui #2 & Karl Marx’s Beard Presents: A Book of Ill-Tempered Commodities
Danny Olda, US – footnotepressAThotmailDOTcom

Although these zines are quite different from each other, I figured it made sense to review them together, as they were sent together, and are both pretty short!  First, Ennui.  At 40 pages, it feels fairly substantial, but lots of interesting pictures, drawings, and large titles break up the flow nicely, and in reality it proved to be a fairly quick read.  it’s a bit of a mixed bag – there’s a short murder-mystery story, a story about a beer run to Walmart followed by seeing birds as an omen for certain death (I couldn’t work out if this one was fictitious or not), and a long piece on capitalism and Danny’s dissatisfaction with the capitalist goal of accumulation, and the symbolism attached to commodities that make them so desirable and popular.  There’s also a silly little cartoon called “The Continuing Adventures of Monocle & Moustache”, where Moustache admits his love for the Jonas Brothers.  Tehe.  I loved the piece on capitalism – very well-written, and funny in places – but the murder story didn’t do it for me.  It seemed very strange to have such different content together in one zine, but what with the title being “Ennui” and all, I suppose it makes sense that Danny just wrote whatever he felt like out of boredom.  Entertaining, lovely layouts, but a bit too fragmented for me.
Second, Karl Marx’s Beard.  15 pages long, with hand-drawn commodities spouting curmudgeonly remarks and Marxist ideas.  My favourite is the slice of bread who yells “oh that’s cute. You think I’m fortified for you. Dude, I’m fortified for shelf-life only. Period.”  Among the silliness there’s some serious messages scattered through about the fucked-up nature of western capitalism and how these everyday commodities, such as bread and coffee, make the rich even richer by exploiting the workers that actually produce the goods.  Other ill-tempered commodities venting their spleens are a car, a pen, a telephone, a TV dinner, and a television, with some facts about the propagandistic nature of television to finish off.  It’s pretty funny, and quite unlike any other zines I’ve read so far.  Danny seems like a really talented writer, and I think his future zines will be really special.

Freckledgecko #6
Twilight Gecko, US – twilightgeckoATgmail.com

This is a really well-written, contemplative zine, that left me feeling quite dreamy and inspired.  The best way to read Twilightgecko’s perzine is curled up in a blanket next to a fire, maybe with a glass of wine or a hot chocolate.  Delicious. The layout is clean, with simple white boxes of text laid on top of pretty backgrounds.  The pieces are short and thoughtful, and you get this sense that you’re almost reading Twilight Gecko’s diary and following the drifting thoughts as they breeze from topic to topic.  Some things discussed in the zine include being a writer, feeling stuck in the past, memories, dreams, and the dysfunctional and sometimes cruel people that live on her street.  There’s also some poetry and lists dotted among the pages.  Although the topics themselves aren’t thaaaat interesting, what won me over in this zine was the artistic, almost stream-of-consciousness style of writing, that infuses the zine with such warm cozy feelings.

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