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Archive for the ‘Staff Picks’ Category

Cambodian Grrrl by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Posted by Matthew Moyer on October 7, 2010

Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh
Anne Elizabeth Moore

When Punk Planet, the zine that longtime zinester and activist Anne Elizabeth Moore had co-edited and published for three years, closed its doors in 2007, one could be forgiven for thinking that maybe she entered into at least a short period of mourning or depression. Not so. Moore decamped to Cambodia, starting a program where she mentored young women students in areas of creative expression and self-publishing. In a country like Cambodia, where the media is an arm of the government, this work is potentially revolutionary. In this dispatch from Cambodia, Moore delivers six brief vignettes of her experiences instructing these women. You get the sense that Moore feels slightly in awe of these women, most taking classes seven days a week (sometimes multiple degrees from multiple universities), and living in the first all-girls dorm in the country, and yet still they have seemingly boundless reserves of energy in learning about self-publishing and making zines. Zines! For tangible evidence of the work Moore is doing in Cambodia, check out the website Camb(l)o(g)dia or the book New Girl Law, overseen by her, written by her students.

As a final, perfect valediction, Moore includes an excerpt of the original, incendiary Riot Grrrl manifesto, as if to show that, yeah, what can be used to destroy can be used to create as well. 1000000000000000% punk rock.

Posted in Staff Picks, Zine of the Week | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Somnambulist # 15 by Martha Grover

Posted by Jessica Whittington on September 30, 2010

Martha Grover lives in one of those families where you either can relate to her or you can’t at all and you’re not particularly upset about it. Weekly family meetings? Yes, those dreaded moments sitting in the living room for an extended amount of time, counting down the minutes to when you can get up and go sit in your room and blast your music once again. Martha’s zine, thank goodness, lets us do that without actually having to hear mom nag you for not taking the trash out for the fifth time. She keeps minutes of her family meetings in October 2009, the entire year, and it’s awesome. Her parents seem pretty cool about the whole thing in the end, though I’m sure some embarrassment has come out of this zine being published. It’s a real riot reading about them coming in late to the meetings after nights of partying and getting onto each other for not picking up their towels off the bathroom floor. Oh, and another thing that is cool about her zine is that you can put in your own ad in the back for twenty-five bucks. Check it out!

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Unemployment by Aaron Lake-Smith

Posted by Matthew Moyer on September 22, 2010

Unemployment
Aaron Lake-Smith

Aaron Lake-Smith takes a break (unfortunate wording, I know) from producing the top-shelf Big Hands zine to release this one-off minizine, a long meditation on unemployment. Around the time of Barack Obama’s inauguration (a fascinating contrast of HOPE with a depressing daily economic reality), Lake-Smith finds himself joining the ranks of the jobless. What follows is a fascinatingly honest look at the jumble of emotions that comes with being booted to the sidelines of the capitalist machine. While he knows he should be using his time for self-improvement and to work on creative projects, instead he finds himself racing to his computer first thing in the morning to check for job leads and to see if incessantly emailing resumes paid odd, thereafter wandering his neighborhood like a zombie.

A small triumph of turning down underpaid temp work is followed by a rush of doubt and panic, but mostly the days just grind on. The most affecting section is when he stumbles onto a copy of the anarchist zine Days of War, Nights of Love (also available from your Zine Library) and it sets off a chain of memories and thoughts – Where did I go wrong? Should I give it all up on hop on a train? Why am I pitching stories and hustling for work when I think the game might be rigged? His reverie is brought to an abrupt and crushing end when the hipster clerk gives him an “Aren’t you a little old for anarcho-punk?” look. In the end there are no answers, no resolutions, and no jobs forthcoming – and yet, even though he knows better, Lake-Smith a little hope (lowercase) that maybe we can all pull through this. Required reading.

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Assassin and the Whiner Vol. 15 by Carrie McNinch

Posted by Andrew Coulon on August 26, 2010

Carrie McNinch is a zine and mini-comic veteran of the first order.  As the editor of Food Geek and an early innovator of diary mini-comics, she has gained a following by allowing readers into her personal life, sharing her experiences as a lesbian cartoonist whose anxiety and disconnectedness have led her into depression and alcohol abuse.  Assassin and the Whiner Vol. 15 is one of the most compelling mini-comics I’ve read to date.  For a diary comic, McNinch has taken great care in drafting daily entries, something that sometimes gets brushed over in other daily comics.  You get the sense that McNinch is deadly serious when she discusses her comics as type of therapy.  By reflecting on the serious and mundane together, you begin to see that McNinch’s hang ups aren’t at all strange or alien but intensely personal; you probably know someone who suffers from similar issues, if you yourself don’t.  Assassin and the Whiner is a great human story reflecting on personal struggle, loneliness and the little victories that keep us all sane.

Keep an eye out for other mini-comics by McNinch in the Zine Collection or check out Food Geek.

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Murder Can Be Fun. Vol. 13

Posted by Matthew Moyer on August 18, 2010

“Death At Disneyland,” screams the cover, accompanied by an olde-timey illustration of a group of gentlemen and gentlewomen careening sideways down a roller-coaster to an uncertain fate! (A top hat flies off into the abyss, even!) There’s no way this one won’t be a winner.

San Francisco resident John Marr started Murder Can Be Fun back in 1986, using it as a print outlet for his painstaking research into all manner of strange historical deaths and disasters (from Karen Carpenter’s anorexia to zoo deaths), and his omnivorous consumption of true crime books, all written up in a bleakly sarcastic and yet informative tone.

In this issue, Marr debunks the longstanding myth that no one ever dies at Disney, tells the tale of train-wrecker Sylvestre Matuschka, and that dark day in 1960 when an airplane plowed into a streetcar(!), pens a biography of mystery writer Harry Keeler, and a score of other morbid goodness. Forget the guy who always pulls up Youtube videos of people getting kicked in the crotch, this issue alone has enough anecdotes to make you a hit at your next party.

This particular issue is LONG out of print, but was donated by a kind zine connoisseur. Enjoy it!

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Zine Machine Issue #2

Posted by Josh Jubinsky on July 28, 2010

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Issue #2 is done! It’s the  “country” issue!  Kids from the Main Library’s  Zine Machine class spent a month of meeting weekly to create eight different countries.  Check out a flag designs, maps, currency, royal portaits, data such as climate, population and motto, and even pictures from each countries rich fictional, child-created, history!   Countries include Karateland, Legotown, Spiralonia, Fight-Rager, Sophie, Adelhide, Imagine World, and United Games. 

Copies are available for checkout at the Main Library’s Children’s Department and first floor Zine Collection.

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Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness

Posted by Jessica Whittington on July 19, 2010

Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness: A Reader and Roadmap of Bipolar Worlds, was self-published by the Icarus Project in March 2004. The book is currently in its 6th printing and is full of firsthand encounters with bi-polar disorder. I like the fact that it’s not a normal sized zine, but more like a larger magazine.

First off, I had no clue Sascha Scatter was one of the co- founders of Choking Victim, although I have never listened to them, I think it’s a good idea that someone “known” to younger people would take the time to educate people on this serious disorder. The personal stories from people and families dealing with bipolar disorder are very insightful and you really get an understanding of how this all works.  I mean, can you imagine one minute having the best ideas in the world and the creative juices flowing through your veins, thinking you’re superman with the most self confidence in the world, and the next hour crying for no apparent reason feeling like the biggest failure, completely hopeless?

These stories are heartbreaking and honest and it took a lot of guts for the people involved in this project to open up with their feelings. It’s a huge road map guiding you along the trails of different people showing you the route they took and how they are dealing with it and trying to live their lives the best they can.

Posted in Staff Picks, Zine of the Week | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Al Burian’s Things Are Meaning Less

Posted by Andrew Coulon on July 12, 2010

Burn Collector author Al Burian’s autobiographical comic Things Are Meaning Less treads the narrow line between whining child and existential heavy weight with clumsy grace.  At times funny, lonely and painfully embarrassing, Burian never strays far from conversations about the weather and his quest to comprehend such chaotic systems seems to rack his waking hours.  His shyness, self loathing and alienation are thankfully cut with the humor, allowing the reader to decompress once in a while.  This isn’t Camus’ Stranger or even Catcher in the Rye. This is one guy’s transition from awkward teen-aged metal head into a directionless, coffee-swilling bike punk and zine author.  As in all existential writing, there are moments of juvenile fist pounding to be expected.  (I mean, who doesn’t want to just slap Holden Caulfield once in while?)  Burian acknowledges these tendencies in himself as well and portrays his fantasies about super powers and suicide as a part of the problem.  He remains connected and disconnected at the same time and you get a strong sense of his frustration: the sunny days are too short and the rainy days just keep coming.  Burian’s unending quest for purpose and fulfillment may just be one more city away. Check out Things Are Meaning Less.

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AC Dickson’s Guide To Ebay Powerselling

Posted by Matthew Moyer on June 30, 2010

AC Dickson is a winner. You can tell. Just look at the picture on the cover – power stance, “Blue Steel” eyes, red polyester pants, a tie that makes no sense whatsoever…. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, AC Dickson is a winner. What made him a winner? Ebay. And guess what else? He’s willing to share his ebay expertise to lift us common saps up to his level. What a guy.

Okay, truth be told, there is no AC Dickson. “AC” is the alter ego of Andrew Dickson, and this zine is the print companion to a similarly demented faux infommercial DVD/VHS he made touting the curative properties of ebay on the human psyche. And yet, for all of the gonzo laughs implicit in the “AC Dickson” character, the Guide to Ebay Powerselling is quite an insightful look into the mechanics of being an ebay vendor, before then morphing into a much more ambitious (and almost philosophical) look into the implications ebay has for our economy and our capitalist society. Though it also includes tales of some of the more interesting ebay scams– the Drunken Sailor, the imaginary girlfriend (What, no Haunted Doll?)– so it’s not all heavy theorizing.

Guide to Ebay Powerselling is exactly the kind of quirky yet informative writing that could only exist in a zine. Proper magazines wouldn’t give Dickson the word count necessary, a blog post this long would never be linked by Metafilter, and Twitter? Forget it.

Bonus material includes an ebay timeline, guide to seller’s slang, and a glossary.

Posted in Staff Picks, Zine of the Week | 2 Comments »

All The Days Are Numbered So

Posted by Josh Jubinsky on June 19, 2010

All The Days Are Numbered So
Zine w/ CD

Somewhere, amidst the median of grasping at straws to ‘being the change you want to see in the world’ and the full blown attempts (with generally tepid results) of recreating the glory days of your past, we find the zine “All the Days Are Numbered So.” It’s right in the middle of these ideas. But luckily for us, hovering just off the ground. So as to be heightened over the mediocrity of the casual boring punk over 30, who now instead of writing about something interesting w/ coffee and smoke, is now just writing about coffee and smoke. Wisdom, at times, creates a bored perdition of artists. And bored and soul less still are it’s fans and those perpetually aging and urging provocateurs.

Thankfully, twice now you’re struck on luck dear reader. For “All the Days Are Numbered So” is contains none of this boring purgatory. No unheroically aging punks. No dim torches being fueled by old record collections.

The enthusiasm is real. The idea of punk in this zine will and has changed lives. The sum of this community is far greater than it’s parts. Everything included here is compiled by Nate Powell, and the work is aptly released on his Harlan Records label. The highlights of the first half of the printed zine include contributions from Al Burian, Travis Fristoe, Erin Tobey, and Meredith Gaydosh. This includes essays and comics. The second half of the zine is pages the bands made with lyrics and collages. Highlights from the CD include tracks from Fiya, Soophie Nun Squad, Erin Tobey, Tiny Hawks, Reactionary Three, Sinaloa, Cassette, Matty Pop Chart, and of course, my favorite, Abe Froman.  Having booked shows and even released records for some of these bands on my own, it’s nice to know that most of the people know each other.  The community represented here has a good small town feel. The music is varied, and yet everyone knows nearly everyone. It’s comforting that with this zine and CD, you get to know them yourself.

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