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Archive for the ‘Zine of the Week’ Category

King-Cat #70

Posted by Andrew Coulon on May 9, 2010

King-Cat Comics celebrated two major milestones in the last year: twenty years in print and 70 issues.  Our congratulations go out to author and artist John Porcellino.  As you might remember, I am a big fan of John’s work so when he visited Gainesville back in March, I was glad to have a chance to meet him.  I showed John several of JPL’s cataloged issues of King-Cat Comics and he was so impressed, he donated issue 70, our current Zine of the Week.  Thanks John!  So without further ado, I offer this month’s Zine of the Week for your reading pleasure.

King-Cat Comics is all about the little things in life, the moments that slip by and would be forgotten without a keen observer like John Porcellino to document them.  He manages to stay present in the moment long enough to find the polished stone and make a comic out of it, resulting in an autobiography of moments, one long string of personal observations that somehow add up to life in modern times.  In issue 70, John goes to the dentist, fills a prescription, mails a letter and embarks on several other thrilling adventures, each with their own eureka moment.  And if that isn’t enough, Diogenes washes vegetables in the stream.  It’s all there in one zine, everything you need for a relaxing, enlightening afternoon.  Check it out today.

If you would like to read more about John Porcellino, check out our recent interview with him.

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Big Hands v. 5.5 – The Chumbawumba Issue

Posted by Matthew Moyer on May 4, 2010

I know what you’re thinking, I was thinking the exact same thing. “Chumbawumba” and “Zine of the Week” in the same sentence? The band who wrote that lame “I get knocked down” song? C’mon Zine Library, what are you trying to pull? Hear me out. Aaron Smith’s “Big Hands” zines has done the impossible and resuscitated the reputation of a bunch of goofball one-hit wonders.

I picked this one up because I didn’t even think it was possible to fill up a full issue of a zine with info about Chumbawumba. Wrong again! The band has a storied history, which Smith lays out in oddly compelling detail. Did you know, in fact, that Chumbawumba started out as a highly-politicized anarcho-punk band and was even labelmates with the mighty Crass? That the band went in a more techno/electronic direction because they were inspired by the egalitarian nature of rave and acid house events? Or that longtime friend Ian MacKaye stopped talking to them after they signed to a major? This issue is divided into two parts: Smith’s deftly written history (eulogy?) of the band and a collection of sleeve art, lyrics, and early interviews from various punk zines.  This is a deft piece of music writing by Smith, and his first extended foray into music criticism.

By the end of Big Hands, you’re left with the impression that Chumbawumba was just a very earnest and idealistic group of artists that tried to pull a “Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle” and instead got chewed up by the pop music machine.  (The transcript of the band meeting where they decided to sign to a major was a nice touch.) Whether that absolves them of the sins of making some terrible music, well, that’s up to the individual reader.  And check out the nifty cassette of early, angry Chumbawumba!

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America? v.15

Posted by Matthew Moyer on April 22, 2010

You could make a very convincing case that your library’s Zine Committee is totally in the tank for Travis Fristoe. He was one of our first interviews and we hosted him for a reading in February. (Shame on you if you missed it!) But if you read any of the work by the Gainesville musician/librarian, you’ll quickly understand why. His America? mini-zine consistently proves that good things come in quarter-page packages; it’s a mix of excellent interviews and music writing and concise, Carver-esque personal writings.

The lengthy interview with reggae legend (and Clash DJ) Mikey Dread yielded surprise after surprise (why didn’t MOJO ever talk to him?), while Fristoe’s conversation with noise duo Japanther was inspiring in a get out and do it yourself way, unlike most interviews that focus on their “extracurricular” activities. There are a bunch of crudely drawn, yet charming comics, to illustrate his personal anecdotes, and the graphics are pure cut-and-paste DIY chaos. Just how a zine should be.

Somehow Fristoe’s writings about Gainesville always make me appreciate living in Florida a little bit more. No mean feat.

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Movement Magazine Vol. 15.5

Posted by Matthew Moyer on February 12, 2010

In the late 80s/early 90s pretty much anyone who was really interested/excited about alternative culture/art/music said to themselves (in those halcyon pre-internet days), “I should really start a zine.” Of that number, about 30% actually started a zine. Approximately 60% of those zines folded within a few issues. The lucky few lasted a couple of years. For a zine started back then to still be going strong today is almost a statistical impossibility. To that end, I give you Movement Magazine!

Founded in 1990, this long-running, Jacksonville-based (!) “dark alternative” publication is the brainchild of Max Michaels.  As editor, designer, photographer, and writer, each issue reflects his broad and eclectic personal interests along with the interests of an ever changing roster of contributors.   This particular volume plays host to a cover story on Siouxsie Sioux, and articles on IAMX, George Romero, Silverchair, photographer Chad Coombs and Tampa band Greymarket. Though there are those who take issue with Movement’s reputation as a more gothic-centric zine and the occasionally uneven writing, the one thing that can’t be argued is that every issue of Movement looks incredible. Michaels uses innovative layouts and page designs and prefers to use his own photos instead of just relying on stock publicity shots.  This Jacksonville institution definitely deserves your attention.

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Food Geek v. 5

Posted by Matthew Moyer on January 28, 2010

Food and zines! Can it get any better? Carrie McNinch’s Food Geek is just ridiculously charming and useful. I was initially drawn in by the cover, a dead ringer for vintage Kellog’s Cereals ad art, but we all know that content is king, and Food Geek doesn’t disappoint in that respect. McNinch crams her minicomic-sized publication with an eclectic  array of food writing that would never make the pages of stuffy pubs like Food and Wine, usually more concerned about how to cater a dinner party  in the Hamptons. Their loss, because Food Geek is bursting at the seams with recipes, comics, essays and travel narratives that further the love of food. A noble calling, to be sure. Also key to this zine is the lack of judgment from either editors or contributors. While McNinch cops to being a vegetarian, she stresses that this is about food of all stripes and shapes, and the zine is all the stronger for it. Standout pieces include McNinch’s essay on her eating experiences while travelling in China, a Cheap Eats on the Road cartoon from Shawn Granton, and a recipe for Pakora. Even the letters section offers forth a clutch of recipes and tips. (And is that Shane Williams from Flipside contributing?) There’s a real joy (and a delicious aroma) wafting off every page. Dig in.

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Going Postal v.1

Posted by Andrew Coulon on January 17, 2010

For a zine, Going Postal v.1 is surprisingly dense and informative. I know how that sounds, and I’m really not trying to discount content levels in others zines but seriously; GP jumps from Kris Mininger’s personal remembrances of DIY godfather Irving Stettner to a brief history of zines from early table top presses through the Internet age of Big Brother and on to a second piece by Mininger about English anarchist, artist and bus driver Arthur Moyse… and that’s just the first half. GP even dips a toe into the academic realm with an excerpt from Steve Bailey’s and Anita Michel’s published paper on perzines and personal identity. Heck, much of GP’s content includes full citations for the discerning reading. But don’t think the editors of Going Postal are just a bunch of stamp collecting eggheads. They want you to share their love of print zines and mail and they don’t seem too concerned that their entire premise for GP may be judged as anachronistic. So if you’ve got some spare time and you have been ruminating whether or not to actually produce that zine you have been thinking about (come on, we know you have ideas…), check out Going Postal for a good kick in the pants.

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Complete Control v.11

Posted by Matthew Moyer on January 6, 2010

No matter how specialized and niche “mainstream” music publications get,  so many amazing songs and fascinating stories are going to be missed. While a small handful of, for the most part, unimpressive bands gather up all the column inches in Rolling Stone or SPIN, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of bands toiling away in the underground, living almost parallel lives to what is considered rock n’ roll behavior. One of these bands is Operation: Cliff Clavin, a political pop-punk band from Bloomington, Indiana, active in the late 90s. Complete Control mastermind Greg Wells was their roadie for a brief American tour in 1997 and kept a diary that is an alternately funny, touching, and informative look at life in the punk rock underground in pre-Internet America.

In the six years that it took him to publish his diary (this issue was released in 2003), one might be forgiven for thinking that the material here would be dated, not so. “Spinal Tap” syndrome afflicts every band, large and small, and it’s no different here. Canceled shows, flaky promoters, the drummer getting a job mid-tour (!) to defray expenses, losing their van doors in a car crash – this stuff is like a rite of passage that will have the reader laughing or shaking their head in sympathy. The rest is a primer on the difficulties (and rewards) of slogging it out on the underground circuit before “pop-punk” was a dirty word and “Myspace” was synonymous with “promotion.” While Wells, as an earnest punk rocker, can’t help but occasionally throw out howlers like “my girlfriend called me, and she’s sleeping with that guy she met at the Mumia benefit” and that every night on the West Coast seemingly ends with an intense political discussion, this zine is an entertaining historical document – by someone who actually lived it. More!

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Jan’s Atomic Heart

Posted by Andrew Coulon on December 23, 2009

Jan’s Atomic Heart
by Simon Roy

Science fiction fans know that the genre has a keen sense for social commentary by repackaging   contemporary issues into futuristic operas involving robots, space travel and to some extent real science.  With those expectations in mind, Simon Roy’s Jan’s Atomic Heart doesn’t disappoint.  In this comic, Jan awakens after a car accident to find himself with a robot body in a futuristic (though thoroughly bombed out) Frankfurt.  With news reports of suicide bombers trickling in, it doesn’t take Jan long to realize that his recycled body matches the model of the suicide bombers and that he in fact has a bomb where his heart should be.  Jan’s not a terrorist though and he turns to friends to help him solve this frightening  dilemma.  Simon Roy’s artwork is outstanding and I can’t recommend this highly enough.

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Greenwoman v. 3

Posted by Matthew Moyer on December 15, 2009

Greenwoman v. 3
by Sandra Knauf

Though older zine mavens long for the days when zines were all about punk bands with unreadable spiky logos and calling out Steve Albini for being a jerk, I’m really digging newer zines that are as awash in earnest enthusiasm for their chosen subject as they are intent on, well, teaching you something. Few strike this balance as enjoyably as Greenwoman.  Sandra Knauf, a mother and gardening enthusiast, started Greenwoman as a blind leap of faith into self-publishing, collecting all of her various environmental-themed enthusiasms into a series of info-packed and charmingly illustrated booklets. Bound with twine, naturally.

This issue’s theme is bees. Knauf tells a story about hanging out with a bunch of beekeepers to see a swarm up close and personal, dropsa all manner of bee-related trivia, shares some honey-based recipes and even reviews some movies about… yes… bees. It holds together much better than it reasonably should. The tone is easy and conversational, and you’re left with the feeling that you really, really need to get outside more.  Which is the whole point, really.

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Zine Yearbook #9

Posted by Josh Jubinsky on December 7, 2009

Zine Yearbook #9
Edited by Microcosm Publishing.

With anyone looking for a new zine – this general concept is paramount; the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. From the start of pulling together elements of the zine collection, I knew my familiarity with zines and their distribution aspects from running my own distro and record store would be helpful – much more helpful than my reluctant and half hearted enthusiasm over cataloging minutia. “Oh yeah, we should definitely get this title and that title and so and so is donating back issues of this and that.”   I obviously never thought zines ended with what I knew of them, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I didn’t know outside of standard distribution channels. And the humbling power of hundreds of new titles came crashing like modern first-world economic plight.

Enter Zine Yearbook #9, where a culmination of historical torch passing compilers, from Jen Angel to Softskull Press to Tree of Knowledge, finally lands a new publishing partnership with Microcosm Publishing.   Microcosm’s treatment of the Zine Yearbook project is nothing short of inspiring – both in terms of process and product.  The thousands of zines read and mulled over at meetings lead to 230 pages of over 120 selections from various zines.  The final product is a tasty sampler containing thoughtful, engaging, personal, independent writing and artistry from around the globe.  Accompanying each printed submission is the contact information for your follow up – write them and tell them what you think, order the zine for yourself, or tell us local librarians how much you loved a certain entry and wish we had it available for checkout here. …the whimsical art and text of “My Friends and Their Tall Bikes,” the great storytelling in Pensacola’s “Mylxine” zine, the illustrations from “Bowling Stars of 1989,” the funny and interesting responses from the ad posting’s of the author of “Three Minute Girlfriend.”  All a must-see!

Zine Yearbook 9 is an anthology of independent writing and artistry that should not go missed.   Check it out at the library this winter and find a warm place to discover all kinds of new and neat zines.

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