Monday, May 17, 2004

From the Reading Pile XXVII

I am now a contributor to Zine World. Here are the reviews I've submitted for the forthcoming supplement to the reader's guide to the underground press.

Abort! #15: Jonathan is a student at NYU, and until he graduates, he's couch surfing to save money. This issue of his Cometbus-styled perzine, even if he forgets Aaron's name, covers Feb. 3-21, 2004. He shares stories about his series of temporary roommates, offers couch-surfing advice, interviews the Phantom Limbs, misses an ex (one of the more poignant sections), shares New York vignettes, looks forward to Leap Day, shares correspondence from pen pals in the Middle East and Massachusetts, and reviews punk records. Like Snakepit in prose form, Abort! Recounts the day-to-day mundanities of life, all the while maintaining a DIY optimism. Jonathan Spies, 45 E. 7th St. #106, New York, NY 10003 [$2 48S :19]

Brooklyn! #43-44: As soon as I moved to Brooklyn, I subscribed to this eponymous local zine. Boy, am I glad! The long-running publication's mix of history, lore, and geographic detail is an appreciative guide to all that is good and galling about New York's best borough. These two issues gossip about Brooklyn Bridge magazine, highlight changing signs, offer brief tours of Bush terminal and Brooklyn Heights, ride the borough's shortest bus line, expand the now 28-part lexicon, run through local bridges, touch on Deborah Moody, poke fun at bad drivers, and otherwise document Brooklyn's people, places, and things. Fred Argoff, 1800 Ocean Parkway #B12, Brooklyn, NY 11223 [$10/four issues 24S :19]

Catfight #2: MK Reed's hitting her stride with this Andi Watson- and Ariel Schrag-fueled comic about four high school friends and their relationships. Jenna and Andrea meet with the principal about their lunchroom altercation. Andrea's parents approve of Jenna's comeuppance. Andrea deals with the fallout at school. And it becomes more clear that the spritely Sam doesn't know Don likes her -- and that Andrea is beginning to suspect that Sam may like her boyfriend Aaron. MK is talented with dialogue -- the lawsuit discussion in the principal's office is great -- and facial expressions. It'll be interesting to see where the story goes. MK Reed [Free 32M :07]

Comic Book Heaven #9: Scott Saavedra's well-read, and -researched zine focuses on the bright spots and oddities of the Golden and Silver Age. I can't believe how thoroughly Scott reads some of these comics! This issue recounts live presentations he's given at various conventions; features found items in the Jumble section (including Bob Kane's verbose epitaph); considers stories in a 1952 fire protection educomic, Superman family comics, Bunny #4, and an edition of Mr. District Attorney; offers 10 things to love about Marvel; and quotes dialogue from romance comics of the '50s. Reproducing plenty of pages and panels from the comics covered, Comic Book Heaven is a reminiscent romp through the funny books of the past. Comic Book Heaven, P.O. Box 2363, Saratoga, CA 95070 [$3.50 52S :12]

Genetic Disorder #17: What is up with the reprinting? Jacob David prints a 2001 essay, Ralph Coons reissues the Last Prom, and Larry reproduces a found pamphlet featured just three issues ago. Are we now in the popcult-revisiting Scooby Doo 2 era of zinemaking? Regardless, this issue -- and the Youth Sub Cultures pamphlet -- was well worth reading. Recently unemployed and homeless, Larry explores where the Menendez brothers bought their shotguns, interviews the econo Coachwhips, maps the 15 San Diego Police Department shootings in 2002, reconsiders the warning signs of alcoholism, and reviews zines and records. Think Ben Is Dead meets Murder Can Be Fun by way of Dan Kelly's Evil, and you've gone too far. Larry, P.O. Box 15237, San Diego, CA 92175 [$3 84S :18]

How Much Art Can You Take? #5: Charmingly forgettable, this fun punk zine reminds me of a less thoughtful Absolutely Zippo or Tales of Blarg. Full of distressed typography and artwork stolen from other sources, Randy's fanzine is extremely playful. In addition to the reprinted material cribbed from MRR -- band photos -- and Flipside -- the Big Boys interview -- Randy apes Pushead with a sloppy review section, offers some clip art from the "golden years" oof punk zine ads, and a funny photocopy essay in which members of Defiance, Blood Spit Nights, and other bands don a hairdo called the "Gedy." There's not a lot here that's original, but it's a fun, breezy read. 6250 NE 6th, Portland, OR 97211 [13 cents 56S :08]

Read Magazine #23: This is a zine to return to. If Lollipop were funny or Roctober less obsessive, they could be Read. In the first 34 pages of the zine, you get the real deal -- the non-interview and -review content. Being the "Conspiracy" issue, this issue features Bruce Campbell pickup lines, "Conspiracy Articles I Didn't Write," "secrets" of Freemasonry, an analysis of whether Rick Springfield is a poetic genius or evil madman, "23 Films 'They' Don't Want You to See," an alcoholism self-test that reminds me of Genetic Disorder (conspiracy!), and a piece about whether Iron Maiden unlocked the secrets of time travel (originally in Read #19 -- dopple conspiracy!). I'll have to revisit the interview with Max Spoons, the Kittenpants insert featuring Corn Mo, and the reviews, but the first third clearly includes the best bits. Adam Liebling, P.O. Box 3437, Astoria, NY 11103 [$3 100M :13]

Media Dieticians everywhere can send materials for review consideration to Heath Row, P.O. Box 3318, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163.

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