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Archive for the ‘Zine of the Week’ Category

Zine of the Week: Practice Apartment

Posted by Matthew Moyer on June 23, 2011

Practice Apartment

Interesting concept, this. Practice Apartment is either a “greatest hits” or a “Whitman’s Sampler”-esque compilation zine compiling some of the best stories from the now out-of-print zines “Laundry Basket: Tales of Washday Woe,” “10 Items Or Less: A Grocery Shopping Zine,” and “Potluck! A Cooking Compilation.” (Incidentally, all three of these are available separately as well from your Zine Collection here at the library!)

With a new introduction drawing all three threads together under a Home-Ec theme. The end result is a series of short, snappy vignettes and cartoons that capture the absurdity, humor, and even beauty that result from mundane tasks we’d often rather not be doing. The tone shifts from fond reverie to biting satire at the drop of a dryer sheet. On one page you’ll find out how NOT to wash a vintage Agent Orange concert shirt (hint: certainly not in a washer load with a bunch of cloth diapers and bleach) and on the next you’ll find fond reminiscences of gorging on comfort food with grandparents, then you’re off to a tale of a shopper looking for cheese that’s “particularly Christian.” (They went with Saint Andre because it sounded religious.) All this and cartoons by the likes of Shawn Granton and Carrie McNinch? Your weekend to-do list never looked this good.

Find it in JaxCat

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Zine of the Week: Middle School by Monica Gallagher

Posted by Matthew Moyer on April 12, 2011

Middle School
by Monica Gallagher

Does middle school even still exist? It seems like a torment from a bygone age, like the Spanish Inquisition. No one with good sense looks back on middle school fondly, and Monica Gallagher captures the deep existential dread that would result from the most trivial matters so expertly in her brief Middle School minicomic. From the pop culture references on the cover (an MC Hammer CD, an industrial-size bottle of hairspray), I’m guessing that Gallagher and I are around the same age, which makes her tale hit close to home personally, but c’mon, adolescent trauma is universal.

The story is that Gallagher’s middle school, in an innovation that makes my stomach hurt just reading about it, sent sixth graders to an “outdoor education” camp at the beginning of the school year to… I don’t know, break their spirit fully right off the bat? It is there that this comic begins, a tangle of self-doubt, life-or-death decisions, all-consuming infatuations, and an ironclad social hierarchy. It’s hilarious and cringe-inducing in equal doses. The art is assured and captures the essential awkwardness of everyone involved. And whaddya know? Is that an almost happy ending? Can’t be….

Find it in JaxCat

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Zine of the Week: The Amish Elf by Chris Kerr

Posted by Matthew Moyer on February 8, 2011

The Amish Elf
by Chris Kerr

You could be forgiven for taking a look at the cover and title of Chris Kerr’s minicomic and think it a one-note joke. C’mon an Amish Elf? There’s gotta be a bad standup routine in there somewhere about oversize buggies? And yet, to his eternal credit, artist Kerr takes this limited concept and weaves a touching and bewitching mythos around it.

The plot is oblique and impossible to sum up in a brief manner to anyone’s satisfaction. Let’s just say that it’s a travelogue the likes of which you’d never read in a Disney story or Piers novel. Surreal phantasmagoria contrasts nicely with the more Spartan reality of an Amish village in a very entertaining manner.

No dialogue, bereft of any text, the weight of the storytelling falls on Kerr’s simple pen-and-ink line drawings. His art style is very familiar (I’m thinking of Magnus Carisson’s Robin and Russian dolls for some reason) and very individual at the same time. Whereas the lead characters–the Elf, the Wizard, and the Amish–are drawn in a very naive, cartoonish style, suddenly he’ll throw you for a curve by drawing, say, an alligator or an opossum in stunning photo-realist detail. Yet it’s the cartoons that pack the emotional punch, a page where a squirrel triumphantly teaches the Amish Elf to throw nuts at targets blindfolded is uplifting, and a shot of stoic Amish parents fighting back tears over the supposed death of their son is wrenching.  And that last page? Man…

Read it, give it to your friends to read, and then argue over the plot more than you did with Twin Peaks!

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

Crap Hound. Vol. 4

Posted by Matthew Moyer on January 7, 2011

Crap Hound Vol. 4
Edited by Sean Tejaratchi
Show and Tell Press

When thinking about starting your own zine, the would-be zinester will often get tripped up on where to find the right imagery. Clip art is just too tacky and generic (plus David Rees has staked that claim) , and who has the money to buy a mountain of old comics and Argosy magazines? Well friend, you’re in luck. Crap Hound has done all the legwork for you! This issue compiles an absolutely jaw-dropping collection of found art, advertising ephemera, forgotten iconography, old library books, and Jack Chick drawings all based around the themes of clowns, devils, and bait. And editor Sean Tejaratchi has crammed full an entire oversized zine with nothing but images drawing from one of those three themes! Even without text each page is overloaded with all manner of vintage eye candy, from Ronald McDonald seemingly drawing a finger across his throat menacingly to a full page diagram of the best insect bait to use to catch fish to an old-timey logo for Red Devil Quick Drying Grout.

The overall effect is almost psychedelic in terms of sheer mental overload; an unending parade of disorienting, eerily innocent images swims in front of your eyes as you turn page after page. But in another way Tejaratchi is rescuing these incredible, quirky images from oblivion and giving them another life, stripped of context or message, to be used in perpetuity for new projects. Crap Hound has been going since 1994. Along the way it has become a favorite of both zine readers and “serious” outlets like the New York Times and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. It’s not hard to see why.

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Galactic Zoo Dossier. Vol. 8

Posted by Matthew Moyer on November 19, 2010

Galactic Zoo Dossier Vol. 8
By Plastic Crimewave

This is quite possibly one of the best zines that I have ever laid eyes on. Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) is a bona fide renaissance man: dj, musician, record label head (Galactic Zoo Disk), concert promoter (the Million Tongues Festival), and cartoonist (Secret History of Chicago Rock), but the focus of his activity is this labor of love publication, Galactic Zoo Dossier. The Dossier is a hand-drawn compendium of all things psychedelic, spacey, and noisy.

Reading this zine is like rifling through the record and comic book collection of a cool older brother/sister. This particular issue features articles on Vashti Bunyan, MV & EE, Brian Wilson, Yahowa 13, Guru Guru, the 4 Tops, Kim Fowley, and Hoyt Axton, among a legion of others. The Dossier’s layout and design walks that fine line between inspired and a mess. Using Krakow’s illustrations instead of stock band photos is a genius idea, and having the issue hand-lettered gives it a much more urgent, passionate vibe. Besides the interviews, the issue is packed with reviews, short histories of cult bands, and collages of old 60s comics that were rife with counterculture references. And, say, if Krakow wants a pinup of Peter Cushing in there, well then, by god, there’s Peter Cushing circa Hammer Films glory on the last page. Also included is a cd brimming over with obscure psych nuggets. Completely worthwhile.

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Judas Goat Quarterly Vol. 45 by Grant Schreiber

Posted by Andrew Coulon on November 8, 2010

Judas Goat Quarterly #45During Spring 2010, Grant Schreiber was under-unemployed when he heard Uncle Sam’s siren call for US Census workers so he signed up.  As a crew leader, his mission was to lead a team assigned to count every person living in a small area on the northside of Chicago. Luckily for Judas Goat Quarterly readers, Schreiber decided to write down his experiences and share some of the wisdom he picked up on the job. His tales of training, organizing and learning to text make for terrific reading and you’ll cringe along with Schreiber as he tries to whip a group of people into a lean, mean head-counting machine in less than a week. After all counting every man, woman and child in the United States isn’t for the weak of heart, as Schreiber loves to point out. In his own words, Schreiber “served” and he expresses a certain amount of pride in a job done as well as some frustration with the inner workings of the Federal Government. So there you have it, a first hand account of the 2010 Census, and if that’s not enough, check out the book review of R. Crumb’s Genesis. That is another good book you can check out from the library.

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Gearhead v.6 & Speed Kills v.6

Posted by Andrew Coulon on October 20, 2010

This week, we’ve got not one, but two Zines of the Week and they different than anything else we’ve offered up before. Behold: Hot Rod Zines! These aren’t your common muscle car mags, these are two mid-nineties gems of muscle-car lovin’ punk-rock culture. You can expect lots of hot rods, rockabilly artwork and attitude.

First, Gearhead Vol. 6 puts Southern car culture on display with a terrific article on the roots of figure 8 car racing, a road trip tour for classic car lovers and a visit to Graceland. Also, check out a cool interview with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and lots of zine and album reviews.

Speed Kills Vol. 6 leans more heavily on the music side of the equation; band features include the Beastie Boys, Superchunk and Neu, plus tons of album reviews. Also, there are a decent number of zine reviews and a whole lot of cars. But the single most interesting thing in Speed Kills is a short transcript from a motivational speech Evel Knievel gave to some people… I don’t really know who, but that’s not the point. Evel Knievel really wants to motivate YOU. He thinks you should do the things you love to do (within reason of course, but this is the most famous stuntman of all time, so reason is relative) and take responsibility for your own destiny. Evel Knievel had a natural DIY mentality and that, friends, is what the Zine Collection is all about…

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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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