Friday, February 13, 2004

From the Reading Pile XXV

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.

A Gadfly's Journal Vol. 4 (August 2003). Suggesting that humanity needs to "consolidate our entire planet into one nation" with a common language, government, and philosophy of life, Victor contends that religion is the problem -- and rationalism is our only hope. That's a nice platform for further discourse, solution development, and dastardly rants, but what readers get is a rehash of the editor's mission, anti-war commentary, and an allusion to mad cow disease. This ostensibly world peace-promoting publication needs to be bolder, dig deeper, and go further. C. Victor Gabriel, P.O. Box 33943, Tonopah, NV 89049. [$7.50/year 8M :04]

Bob #1. Bob's first zine, while the range of subjects bodes well, has room for improvement. Addressing the future of the "American Creatively Disabled," it includes a review of David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise, an analysis of cola advertising and immoral marketing, and a piece on spoof eBay auctions. Bob strikes me as a disenfranchised, media-savvy post-dotcommer, but his class analysis is shallow, his media critique trite -- and the zine bar high given the topics. With the tagline "from the heart of the middle class, I stab at thee," Bob has a dull edge that could easily be sharpened. Bob Sheairs, Outhouse Publishing, 30 Locust Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108. [$1.50 12S :05]

Brooklyn! #42. Easily the best zine assigned to me, this is a zine to learn from. Blending the personal, the local, and the original, Argoff, who works for the Transit Authority, highlights little-known history, geography, and other aspects of the borough. Brooklyn! is a must read if you're a local or former resident. This edition features material about the August blackout, the Mount Prospect Reservoir, overlapping street grids, Brooklyn's lexicon, local customs, and old Ebbets Field. Absolutely brilliant. More local lore zines would be welcome. Fred Argoff, 1800 Ocean Parkway #B-12, Brooklyn, NY 11223. [$10/four issues 24S :16]

Flashpoint #4. Featuring the writing of four people from the U.S. and England, Flashpoint explores ethics and morality. Misrepresenting anarchism yet citing Peter Kropotkin, the round-robin philosophy APA touches on altruism, communism, pacifism, and mental illness. Inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, Flashpoint appears to be Scientology-friendly and determines the "natural" to be the "ethical." Similar to a transcription of a late-night, soul-searching conversation among friends, Fragment is a labor of love that doesn't quite further the analysis of ethics. Attention to layout and design would help. Shannon Colebank, Whizzbanger Productions, P.O. Box 5591, Portland, OR 97228. [$10 US, Canada, and Mexico, $12 world, no trades, prisoners pay in stamps 56M :12]

Free Summer Franks II. Beyond Kelly's "Pack a Man" comic strips in Pussy, he self-publishes this black-and-white comic book. While his video game strips are fun one-offs, this is a better introduction to his work and interests. With a friendly, tongue-in-cheek goofiness, Kelly sheds light on his relationship with his autistic daughter, explores his allergy-inspired diet, and offers several short pieces. Zook and Max discuss their beverages of choice. Gore and Violence go clubbing and meet some young goth girls. And Elizabeth, Diversity, and Schizandra poke fun at Pokemon. Simply drawn, the comic blends family life, goth culture, and plenty of puns. Timothy Charles Kelly, 946 N. Indiana Ave., Lindenhurst, NY 11757. [$2 32S :07]

Local Comics #36 (June 2003). Like Yul Tolbert's self-publishing, it's been awhile since Michael's work hit my radar. It's comforting that neither has fallen too far from their tree -- and Michael has improved on the simple, silly comics I remember. Extremely basic in design, Michael's one-panel gags touch on scatology, poetry, science fiction, computers -- and puns, visual and otherwise. Oddly, both Michael and Tolbert address sexual themes more (a transition Sean Bieri also made at one point). I'm left with a pleasant, cheesy bemusement because of the "cap-size" and Klingon puns. Michael Goetz, 1340 Brandywine Dr., Rockford, IL 61108. [$1 16XS :01]

The Lost Realm Book. I've been reading Yul Tolbert's highly stylized science-inspired comics since the mid-'90s. This collection of "promos and extras from the LPD universe" serves as a welcome but dissatisfying refresher on his comics work. Featuring "that girl with big toenails," the mini is an ashcan of sorts for LPD, Tolbert's fetish fanzine. But a fetish for what? Feet? Esperanto? Science? There's little of either in this, and it seems best suited for Tolbert completists, who probably already have LPD #1. Yul Tolbert, P.O. Box 02222, Detroit, MI 48202. [25 cents US, Canadian, Mexican, and elsewhere, or trade, free to prisoners 8XS :01]

Pussy #12. Whereas Brooklyn! focuses on the where and when, Pussy concentrates on the how and now. A special issue on old-school video games, this edition was published just after the publisher was fired from their cafe job and launched a DIY cupcake delivery service. Shades of the old Mommy and I Are One by way of Saint Reverend Jen, the zine features a quickie questionnaire with Nick Zedd, a brief guide to Ms. Pacman games in New York, Tim Kelly's spiral-bound "Pack a Man" comic strips, a cut-and-paste kissing how to, a video game parallel to online dating, and some hip-hop history. Provocative and productive! Pelin Morawski, 287 Bedford Ave. #12, Brooklyn, NY 11211. [$4, $20/four issues 100M :21]

Weirdness Magnet #1 (July 2003). After more than 30 issues of his role-playing game zine Scrollworks, which covers the d20 system, Christian publishes a personal zine. While he leads a worthwhile life, the snippets about his dog, Nascar, teaching first grade, buying a house, stamp collecting, Lance Armstrong, and owning a gun don't add up as that interesting. Still, it's a worthy "reach out to the zine community," and Christian gets points for highlighting a teenager's distro. Scrollworks is probably more fleshed out than this new project. Christian Walker, P.O. Box 983, San Jacinto, CA 92581. [$2 US 16S :02]

Wrestling Then & Now #152 (August/September 2003). A wonderful, old-school fanzine! Evan Ginzburg edits this newsletter, which celebrates classic pro-am wrestling and its modern-day counterparts. Organized around the theme of heel managers, this issue continues an interview with promoter Kid USA, who expounds on the virtue of '80s-style wrestling and clear-cut characters; appreciates dead managers such as Wild Red Berry; interviews Dangerous Johnny Diamond, reviews relevant fanzines, interviews Johnny Valiant, and transcribes a lengthy radio interview with Dutch Savage. Despite Kid USA's pooh-poohing of backyard wrestling, a clear hybrid of modern and classic wrestling, this is an in-depth, expert read for the true wrestling fan. Wrestling Then & Now, P.O. Box 640471, Oakland Gardens Station, Flushing, NY 11364. [$5 28M :18]

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