Saturday, October 30, 2010

re: "Fanzines" by Teal Triggs

So, Teal Triggs' book on "Fanzines" came out and a lot of people are pissed about it. There is a lot of misinformation, and people's work re-printed without permission, etc.
There are two links I know of right now discussing this, here and here.
If there are any others, please feel free to post links as comments.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I am taking a break from zine reviews right now, for a plethora of reasons. School is really taking over my life right now, as well as some other things I’ve become more interested in.

The past six months or so, I’ve really contemplated my place in the zine world. Sometimes I love it so much, but there have been a few times I’ve been alienated and even what I felt was bullied by people who are supposed to create a safe space for creative expression and activism. I’m not progressive enough, I judge too harshly, people can’t handle my criticism, I need to watch my language. Whatever. I once found solace in the zine community, but now I’m wondering if maybe I’ve grown out of it. I’ll always consider it to be deep in my roots as a person, a writer, an artist, a designer, but I think I’m made for bigger and better things.

There are some zines I still have to review, it wouldn’t be fair to those who have sent me zines for that specific purpose to leave them out. I will try to do that very soon. I don’t know if I’m going to stop doing zine reviews forever, I might update from time to time, but it won’t be a regular thing and if I come back, I'll most likely do things a lot differently.

I wish all of you luck with your projects


Monday, August 23, 2010

#11 - instant film, the incarcerated, girl love and some olives on the side

Asylum #1 / High on Burning Photographs #5

by Matt Hahn/Ocean Capewell

I was interested in this because it is a split with an incarcerated fellow named Matt. I’ve heard of Books for Prisoners programs and that of the like, but was on the fence about the idea of having anything to do with convicts. Anyway, regardless of his situation, I felt the content of this zine was amazing. Their stories are of a bigger picture, ideas of real thinkers often brushed off as crazy. I also enjoyed how they both wrote about their experiences of 1997. Matt’s stories are heart-breaking and beautiful although they are on the sad side. His stories of death, loss and gain gave me a different perspective on life and freedom that I can appreciate. Sometimes it was hard to tell whose story was whose though, I found myself guessing or cluing in by a name drop. But seriously, I’d recommend this zine as a good read.

Fight Boredom #5: Girl love
by Amber Forrester

This comp zine is about conquering girlhate and jealousy, taking back sexist language, a deeper look into the “mean girl” stereotype, the importance of calling people out on rape jokes (I could really resonate with this article, as someone who has been labelled a humourless feminist for speaking out) and several thoughts by zinesters and female musicians on the supposed revival of riot grrl. I may be missing some stuff, but seriously, Amber did not disappoint me with this zine (not that she ever has). I also really like the inside page which says, “If I gave you this zine, I probably want to be your friend.” I’m always trying to make girl friend and instill girl love in this small city where a lot of girlhate happens, so it’s refreshing to be reminded there are strong, like-minded women out there who are fighting for the same thing.

Polazine #1
by Emma Jane Falconer (visit her site here)

Who doesn’t love instant film? And I say instant film instead of polaroid because Emma uses pictures from her Fuji Instax Mini, which I also have and love! I think little photo zines are neat because they give you a little glimpse into another’s life, sort of mysterious in a way. Plus, mini zines that size are always my favourite!
Fanzine Ynfytyn #8.5
by Emma Jane Falconer (visit her site here)

This is a perfect example of what a 24 hour zine should be like. I also think they should have their own category since the point is to make it in such a short period of time, where things like editing and fanciness are too time consuming for the objective, which is to create a tangible medium for your brain to spew all over. Emma writes little anecdotes about things like trying to like gin, learning to ride a bike, and includes lists like, “Best Cakes I’ve Eaten at the Sanctuary Cafe.” I giggled at the part about accidentally eating bacon, I was veg for +10 years and did that with a pita once. I like this zine, it didn’t take too long to read and I felt nice after. Plus, it’s printed on orange paper, and for some reason I really like zines printed on orange paper.

Fanzine Ynfytyn 11 - Colour Issue
by Emma Jane Falconer (visit her site here)

Colour zines, especially laser copied, make me a little hot, not gonna lie. This zine is filled with bright colours and photography of various kinds. There is writing in it as well, but I won’t elaborate too much on it except say that it compliments the photography beautifully, which seem to me is the main focal point of the zine. I especially liked the list of “Top 5 pick n’ mix sweets” not only because of my infamous sweet tooth, but I’d never heard those names before and it sounded distinctively British. Let’s face it, things in accents, even when you read them, are much more attractive sounding.

Oh for Olives! #1 (2003)
by Emma Jane Falconer (visit her site here)

This zine made me laugh once I realized what I was looking at. It’s a mini 14 page zine of collage, matched with absurd text and quotes, and lots of imagery from illustrated instructions and medical textbooks. I’ve heard people say about these kinds of zines, “what’s the point?” but I also think those people are more into text-heavy zines (I thought I’d mention that, because it annoys me). I thought this was inspirational because I love the collage and feel there isn’t enough of it in the world. Pairings of image and text can be so beautiful, can invoke such a strong and powerful emotion if you let it, and I don’t think this little zine is an exception. Phrases to describe this zine: borderline disturbing, laughably morbid, clever. A nice edition to my collection.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

on criticism

A while ago, I got some complaining about a review I did because of my pickyness of typefaces and a comment I made about the content. It was from a girl who sent me her zine specifically to be reviewed. I gave her a good review before, and she had since added me to Facebook and put a link to TMC on her blog. However, after becoming very defensive of my criticisms, she left a passive aggressive comment on the link on Facebook, which she then deleted me from, and removed my link from her blog. My friend Alysha then said, “Wow, she’d never make it in art school.”

And it’s not art school, it’s in any type of profession, or any creative thing you do really. We are people who grow as we live. We learn every day, we are constantly soaking up information and honing our skills and learning new things.

Criticism is something that is inevitable when you put something out to the public, whether it be a piece of art, a zine, or any type of writing. People will like it, there will always be someone who doesn’t. There will be people who tell you it’s good when they don’t actually think it is and there are people who will tell you what you could do better. This is a part of life, and the sooner you learn to cope with criticism, the better your life (and your skills) will be.

When I first started art school, I was extremely sensitive to criticism. And once you get thrown out there into constant criticism, it becomes second nature, and it’s only then when you realize there is so much to learn, and you have to appreciate the feedback of others if you want to reach your full potential. You can’t be pissy about it and put up a wall, or you will definitely not succeed.

Yes, I have a background in graphic design & illustration, so yes typefaces, layout, and aesthetic quality are things that I am going to pick out. I can’t help it. I know that not everyone is a graphic designer or whatever, but a zine is a piece of art no matter how you think about it. When you are holding it in your hand, the cover is either going to pull you in or deter you from reading it. Everything really does matter. It’s not that it is more important than the content, but for most people, if it looks sloppily put together and has an ugly cover and you can see a million ugly typefaces and backgrounds when you quickly flip through it, they may not get as far as reading the content and put it down without thinking twice.

There was a comment made implying that I’m turning into an art snob, and maybe I shouldn’t be reviewing personal zines. It made me think a lot about my involvement in zines and where the future lies with this hobby. I’ve been making zines since I was 15, and consider it as part of my roots. It was one of my first creative outlets as an angry, angsty teenage girl. I think of it as sort of a foundation. My taste in zines has changed a lot since then, and the majority of my attention has been pulled toward other things, like my impending career in art, painting, singing and writing music. This is why I’m not posting as many reviews as I’d hoped when I started. But I’d like to still write reviews because I love getting zines and I think my criticism is valuable to people who are willing to listen and take it constructively. I don’t want to hurt anyone. It helps me grow as an artist as well, and I think sharing information is vital. We can all learn from each other. Everything is connected.

And I’m not going to say that I’m a perfect artist/writer/reviewer/whathaveyou. I’ve accepted the fact a long time ago that I’ve got many years of learning ahead of me, but I also love to learn and take what I can from others. I crave criticism and am always open to what people have to say about anything I do. Sometimes it can hurt, but that hurt is necessary and you get over it.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you don’t want your work criticized, don’t fucking send it to me (or any other reviewers) and cry about it when I’m honest.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

#10 - High on Burning Photographs & Second Hand Smoke

High on Burning Photographs #3
by Ocean Capewell

It’s the first time I’ve read this zine, although I’ve been meaning to pick some up for a while now. There isn’t really a good way to describe the style in which Ocean writes... but it’s strong and thorough and emotional. Done in classic cut and paste style, she writes about grieving, moving from place to place, death of friends, the radio and its comfort, etc. In the middle there’s an enlightening spread of short descriptions of people and the stories they’ve told her. I really like this zine. It’s not self involved but written in a way to learn something from her.

High on Burning Photographs #4
by Ocean Capewell

This series might be my new favourite series! In this issue, Ocean writes about many personal things, like dealing with alcoholics & sobriety, self-esteem, a job she had as a mail opener, “voluntary singlehood,” and more. A lot of these issues touch on subjects I’ve been thinking about lately, so I was especially intrigued and read it in one sitting (my attention span lacks a lot of the time, so it’s a feat for me). And I must say, the part about her dad thinking gay people lived in holes made me laugh out loud. She concludes the zine with a page about staying in Philedalphia and some thank-yous.

The only complaints I have about these zines is that the backgrounds for a lot of the pages are flashy patterns that hurt my eyes when trying to focus on reading. Also, way too many typefaces are used throughout, and there are even multiple fonts used on one page. It makes it really busy and hard to follow at times. Other than that, I really enjoyed both these zines and am looking forward to reading other issues.

Second Hand Smoke #3
by Christian Filardo

This zine is of sketchbook type drawings and journal-like scrawls, and made me LOL at times. Specifically the comic about wanting to be a sandwich, and not burying a run-over bird because it was “totally smashed.” The doodles also remind me of my own sketches. It’s cleanly put together, simple, and thought provoking in a way (that is almost morbid at times). And, the flap of the envelope greeted me with, “You look great!” when I opened it, which made me crack a smile, not gonna lie. So thanks :) Great zine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

something I missed: Fight Boredom #4

Apparently I have been a mess lately. I forgot my wallet at a friend’s while solely there to pick up my sweater, I put the peanut butter in the fridge the other day, and I forgot to review the fourth issue of Fight Boredom, which I was a part of this time! What the bloody shit is wrong with me? Crikey.

Why do I like this zine so much? LET'S SEE. The concept of this comp zine is simple: how to fight boredom in a small town. It’s a zine with purpose, made to make people take charge of their lives, to provoke ideas, responses, reactions. This issue has 14 contributors, including Tukru of Your Pretty Face Is Going Straight To Hell, Kira Swales of Exploding the Myth, Maranda Elizabeth of Telegram Ma’am, myself and others. Maranda Elizabeth suggests getting the fuck off the internet, Sheena Swirlz gives good advice such as food jar swaps and fundraiser parties, and Dave Cave writes a hilarious list of things to do (such as “strap a party hat to a dog”) which gets bonus points for rainbow and unicorn stickers. There are also recipes, an interview with Lizzy from Marching Stars Distro, and an old mixed tape list sent from a girl who can no longer be found. It was all really good. Even though everyone had different backgrounds and sent their pieces in from different countries, it formed a sense of community and unity.

In graphic design, it’s frowned upon strongly to use more than like two typefaces for a piece, but in this case, I liked it. In fact, I’m glad it wasn’t done any other way. I’ve seen comp zines where the information from contributors had been taken and re-formatted by one person, and it’s really boring (I’m thinking of an issue of “We’ll Never Have Paris”. This is more authentic, gives personality and emotion.

You can buy Fight Boredom #4 in Hello Amber!’s etsy shop. I know you want to.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fight Boredom Distro

The author of Hello Amber! Zine Reviews and zines such as Fight Boredom! and Culture Slut has finally come out with her own distro based from her home in Montreal, Quebec featuring English AND French zines, with also some French translation on the website. Lo and behold, Fight Boredom Distro! How is exciting is that?

While there are a couple Canadian zine distros out there, most of their stock is available in person at zine fairs and festivals, making it hard for us smaller-city folk to benefit from. Amber has an online catalogue for orders, so as long as you have PayPal or wanna risk well concealed money via snail mail, buying's pretty easy! The design of the site is nice and straightforward too, definitely a pleasure to deal with when I made my order today.

So if you're Canadian (and ESPECIALLY if you're into feminist/queer/personal zines) take note next time you're thinking of going through a distro.

Friday, June 11, 2010

#10 - I'm back!

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while. April and May were two crazy months with a lot of crazy shit happening, but I'm back, and I'm planning on posting once a week from now on as long as I have zines to review. Which is where you come in! So if you want me to review your zine, send it to me! (After reading zine submission guidelines, which will save us both a hassle)

Janell Hoong

I was intrigued by the looks of this zine when I got it in the mail from a girl named Janell - who lives all the way in Singapore. I loveloveLOVE it when people spend the time to make a zine attractive looking. Too many times do I shake my head after seeing zines with extremely uneven and crooked pages. Clearly, love was put into all 54 pages of this one, especially the cover. The content, however clever at times, lacked flow and interest a lot. It’s a definition of a per-zine: thoughts, ideas, stuff floating around in your head at the end of the day that nobody cares about but you messily scrawled on paper without thinking. I think people who like per-zines often enjoy ones that have a certain theme they can relate to - this one reads like a diary: rambly and all over the place. I’m going to keep it though, instead of donating it to the zine library, purely because of aesthetics.

Amber Forrester / Jane Boston / janeboston at gmail dot com

CS21: It’s no secret that I love Amber and her zines, and this is no exception. Amber talks about staying positive, and provides lots of lists like, “bands I can’t stop listening to,” “current obsessions,” and “words that make me swoon.” I really enjoyed the piece on funny/interesting things about the French language, a) because I’m French and b) I love etymology and language in general. And obviously there is a lot of vintage imagery, plus hand-coloured covers! Then she closes the zine with some zine reviews and it goes on to the other half.
SH11: I get really excited when people make artsy zines using their own photography and things for collage. Sometimes I feel uninspired with all the stolen imagery zinesters use, it feels impersonal and ripped-off. It’s so much better to use your own stuff, definitely more interesting and authentic from an artistic standpoint. Jane uses exposures from her Fuji Instax Mini (which I also have!) and photos from her Fisheye cam while also providing lists, some with the same titles as Amber’s.

Both zinesters include recipes. I really like this zine - even though they both have clearly different styles, they go together in one zine nicely.

Teri Vlassopoulos
teri.vlassopoulos at gmail dot com

I liked the first part of this zine, double spaced and typed in Times (a typeface I can live without, but oh well). It talks about growing cities, noise abatement, paying attention to your surroundings (CEMENT). Beautifully written, really, it kept me reading onto the recipes (FLOUR) and then ... a story about religious statues and saints (SAINTS), which I’m really not into considering I’m strongly atheist, so I feel it would be ignorant of me to give a strong opinion. It was well written though, and I’m sure those of religious sorts would appreciate it more.

Taryn Hipp

I like Taryn. I like her blog. She is on my Facebook, and I think she’s a nice girl. Super cute, too. She sent me this zine a while ago in hopes I’d review it, so here it is! Better late than never maybe?
I don’t like to normally review zines like this because its rather depressing and I try to stick to positive type zines that make me feel good. I once heard someone say that writing about anything can be good if it’s written well, and that’s what I thought of when I first read this. It’s sad but also honest, heart-felt, and very real. I felt it was sometimes over-dramatic, but excusable (it’s a zine, right? Everyone gets a bit of lee-way). Some of the things she writes about are potatoes and cabbage, being young, being dramatic, bad-ass girls, body hate, coping with her father’s dead after 9 years, and mentions of Johnny Cash and Courtney Love. One thing I want to say though, and EVERYONE should take note: there isn't a single reason out there to use a script typeface for a zine! This one was really hard on the eyes. Perhaps a slab-serif would have been better. I’d definitely want to read other issues though. **NOTE: Titles were written in script, not the whole thing.**

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scrap Packs

I am x-posting this from my art blog, since I find it relevant to zines.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a collector of things. I don’t only collect ideas, but I collect anything that catches my eye for future use. I’ve picked up things off the side of the road, blowing around in parks, or that was discarded and sitting out on the curb. I pick up things at garage sales, and I keep small, medium, and large scraps in what I call my “collage box” for creative happenings later on.

Well, my collage box is overflowing. I have things stashed in drawers, and am always finding things I forgot I had. This is where you come in!

I am trying to do some “spring cleaning” because it is that time of year. I am selling envelopes packed with stuff from my collage box and drawers for you to use in your creative projects, whether they be zines or collages or whatever project you may feel like doing in this beautiful weather. They are only a couple bucks, plus the cost of shipping (I have already weighed the envelopes and am charging exact shipping). So why don’t you go to my etsy shop and treat yourself to a nice surprise in the mail? There are only a few, and once they’re gone, they’re gone!


Doctrinal Expletives #2

This zine is a quarter-sized, messy cut and paste zine that is almost entirely written by hand. Now, one thing that bugs me about hand written zines is the lack of legibility which many of them contain. I have seen zines where the use of it was fine, but I find it very frustrating when you have to stop mid-sentence to figure out a word. If your hand writing is hard to read, please do everyone a favour and type it. It’s 2010 - if you don’t have a computer or a typewriter, I’m sure you can find one and a place to print it.
I found the tone of the zine to be sarcastic, smart and sometimes funny, although I also found it to be unnecessarily angry at times, often jumping to conclusions. The piece about tattoo etiquette made me nod and smile because, as a tattooed lady, all of these questions arise on a regular basis for me so I can really relate. It’s also nice to hear it from someone who agrees, since a lot of people, especially those without tattoos, can’t seem to understand the annoyingness that is having your tattoos groped by strangers, people asking all sorts of personal questions about them, and society assuming you’re some “dark diva” by stereotype. Helen also touches on topics such as cultural ignorance, scientists, and going to a “private liberal-arts college.”

A Piece of my Brighter Side
by Sam Phillips

All stapled between two pieces of cardstock are collages, random notes, thoughts scribbled on yellow lined paper with coffee stains, old book pages, vintage postcards and more. It’s more eye candy than anything to read, but it’s pleasant to look at and hold in your hands. I got this from one of my teachers who got it when he bought some of her merch, as she is a singer and songwriter. Since there is no direct contact information in the zine, I googled her and came across her website, which she lists her zines for $35 each. Every one is original and different, and if you’re willing to fork out the money for it, you can buy one here.

Mirror Tricks #2
by Robin Hustle

I don’t know what the hell this zine is. The intro claims it to be “about mother, child, class performativity, is about borders in and around bodies, it is about and through prostitution,” but I don’t even know what that means. Throughout each page is choppy writing, fragmented sentences, sentences that don’t make sense and degrading and graphic line drawings of women in sexual positions. Nothing makes sense, and if there was some deeper meaning to the whole thing, I totally missed it. And I just have to mention, the page about incest, was really weird and I’m definitely irked by it.

Cursive Bomb #5
by Hazel Pine

I know I’ve said this before, but I loveloveloveLOVE typewritten zines! And it’s not too often I receive one in such a size, or with sewn binding. Hazel writes about being a nanny for a wealthy family who live in a world of excess and materialism, how that makes her feel, experiences with mental health workshops in Portland, the word “crazy”, and a touch of riot grrrl. I really liked this zine, she has a very poetic and articulate way of writing which comes across as beautiful, calm and engaging.