Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From the Reading Pile XXXV

Some reviews submitted recently to Zine World:

Blurt! #5: Lew's all over the place in this well-designed, verbose perzine. Past and present. Memory and diary. New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. He shares stories about his childhood, school-age friendships, discovering punk rock, the dangers of tribute bands, student journalism, relationships on the wax and wane, making zines, couch surfing, being in a band, and other aspects of the punk-rock life. There's not a lot that's new here, but Lew's got a friendly perspective, and his use of adverbs without the "ly" at the end can be fun. The "Livin' on an Island" section makes me want to check out City Island in New York. A great zine for waiting rooms and bus stations. Lew Houston, 135 Wapwallopen Road, Nescopeck, PA 18535, email [$2 108XS 1:21]

Dwelling Portably (May 2008): Regardless of your living situation -- rural or urban -- reading this zine will inspire you to go back to the land -- and will give you the tools and ideas you need to do so inexpensively. Material in this issue covers Chinese-style wheelbarrows, peak forces on backpacks, grain storage, infected food and clean water, vehicle repair, and temporary housing. Wonderfully homespun, Dwelling Portably mixes personal experience and reader contributions. A must read. P.O. Box 190-D, Philomath, OR 97370 [ $1 16S :19]

Farming Uncle #109 (Spring 2008): Editor Louis Toro started an experimental "farmette" and homestead in Greenfield Park, NY, 41 years ago. His zine is a hodgepodge of agricultural clip art, personal and pen pal ads, get-rich-quick working from home schemes, all-caps moralizing, rural living how tos, nonviolent politics, and Native American activism. It's a cluttered cabinet, but it's fascinating -- and makes for an interesting parallel read to Dwelling Portably. My new favorite zine. Louis Toro, Box 427, Bronx, NY 10458 [$3 24S :23]

Local Comics #55: It's been awhile since I've seen one of Michael's comics, and it's great to see he's still stirring the pot. Over the years, his artwork, though simple, has gotten a little tighter. But his sense of humor -- boner jokes, visual gags, puns -- hasn't changed much at all. His use of partial puns, in which he puns off of a syllable or a part of a word versus the entire term, has increased somewhat. That just goes to show that you can find amusement anywhere -- and that puns might be finite. Basic, clever, funny. Michael Goetz, 1340 Brandywine Dr., Rockford, IL 61108 [Two stamps/trade 16XS :02]

Musea #160 (January-February 2008): If this issue is any indication, Tom Hendricks publishes a Christmas-themed short story at the end of the year. Even though the holiday story might be better read at holiday time -- it's July as I write this -- I did enjoy the piece. It's a story about injury, memory, music, and love -- and while it's somewhat predictable, it's gentle and caring. The issue even includes photographs and sheet music to add to the experience. Happy belated holidays, Tom! Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas, TX 75219, email, Web [Free 13S :06]

Opuntia #64A-64B (October-November 2007): Given that these issues of Dale Speirs's zines have a whole number, they contain what's termed "sercon," or serious and constructive criticism. Other issues might be reviewzines, APAs, or perzines. These two editions, then, contain an actively footnoted two-part essay on the origin of life, in which Speirs addresses the various theories behind the origin of life and provides a good starter survey of the literature. Speirs also addresses his other interests, including science fiction, postal history, geoscience, and other topics. The Seen in the Literature items are useful synopses of scholarly articles. Worth checking out. Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, AB Canada T2P 2E7 [$3 16S :23]

The Out Orb Tribute to Carl Sagan: Combining his interests in the work of Carl Sagan, the TV Show Space: 1999, and Esperanto, long-time comics maker Tolbert created this mini sharing a story about Sagan going to Moonbase Alpha to oversee the construction of SETI antennas. I don't always "get" Yul's comics, but I sure am consistently impressed. His controlled use of hash-mark shading is interesting, and his stylized characters, while somewhat stiff, do resonate. Worth it for the drawings of spacecraft, the moonbase, and antennas alone. The Princess Di joke at the end is a pleasant touch. Yul Tolbert, P.O. Box 02222, Detroit, MI 48202, email, Web [Free 16XS :03]

Popular Reality Special Report Vol. 786 #2: Fans of old-school mail art and zinemakers such as Bob Black and Al Ackerman will get a kick out of this intriguing read. Along with cover model Mykel Board, readers are offered pieces on the military and mind control, a faux brochure on human-gorilla in-vitro fertilization, suicide, child abuse, and Cher. Equal parts parody and polittical commentary, it's not always easy to identify what's a joke and what's art. Highlights include the Christopher Robin poem, Suzy Crowbar's textual poaching, and the detourned Yuran Ass comic on the last page. Confusing and fascinating -- a wonderful combination. Poe-Pular Reality, P.O. Box 66426, Albany, NY 12206 [$3 24S :15]

Publick Occurrances #10: This excellently handmade comic -- a limited edition of 500 with what appear to be woodcut covers -- collects drawings done of students from the class of 1925 at the Manual Training High School in Peoria, Ill. Artist Danny Martin's ink work may itself be inspired by woodcuts and lends a sinister air to his recreations of the student portraits. About 50 students and faculty members are featured in this edition. Danny Martin, 746 E. 5th St. #23, Tucson, AZ 85719 [$2 or trade 20XS :01]

Show Me the Money! #26 (Fall, Winter, Spring 2007-2008): Even though I'd like to see more citations and footnotes for a lot of the facts, I was quite impressed by this well-researched zine. Hunnicutt strives to show the realities of our economic and political system and leans pretty far to the left while doing so. Highlights of this edition include his contention that America isn't a democracy but a kleptocratic plutocracy (the Anti-Renter movement of the 19th century bears further research), the comparison of 1929 and 2008, a look at friendly societies and other mutual aid groupss (this might be the best article in the issue), and the two poems near the back. The zine could use more variation in its content (kinds of articles) and design but offers tons of food for thought -- if not tools for activism. Tony Hunnicutt, P.O. Box 48161, Minneapolis, MN 55448 [Free 44S :31]

Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison #13 (Fall 2007): This zine collects writing and artwork by women in prison, so there are some common threads running throughout the stories. Pieces touch on gender relations between prisoners and guards, health concerns with HIV and Hepatitis C, separation from loved ones, illogical elements of the legal and prison systems, the will to improve one's life or situation in and out of prison, and children. Rachel Vickers's "Ode to Sole Mates" might be the most creative item, told from the perspective of a pair of tennis shoes. A mixed bag, but promising for people interested in women's and prison issues. V. Law, Black Star Publishing, P.O. Box 20388, New York, NY 10009, email [$2 32S :12]

Urban Spook #1: Originally issued in 2006, this is a self-published comic book that's accompanied by a CD featuring six tracks of music and narration, also by Monk. Titled "The Cash-for-Pussy Primer," the piece -- best read while listening to the CD -- details the experiences of a gourmet cheese seller who goes to Span to see an old female friend. The two solicit a prostitute, which leads to some introspection. The artwork is somewhat rough and hurried, but the overall combination more than makes up for the limitations of any of the individual parts. An excellent DIY multimedia project. If you're aware of others like this, please write the reviewer c/o Zine World. Augusto Monk, 305A Brockley Road, London, England SE4 2QZ, email, Web [$10 12S+CD :17]

Worn Fashion Journal #4: Not quite Harper's Bazaar with its portrayal of impractical spectacular runway fashion and not quite Readymade with its DIY thriftiness, Worn is a relatively new semiannual magazine that blends the inventiveness of punk rock and the aesthetics of high fashion. The zine itself is well designed and published on a heavier stock of paper to better present its full-color contents. Highlights include an appreciation of The Image Makers: Sixty Years of Hollywood Glamour, and introduction to log cabin quilt making, Sonya Topolnisky's article on simultaneous color,a piece on the aesthetics of psychobilly, a reminiscence by an auction house intern, and an outline of the chemistry behind dry cleaning. This isn't a world I'm familiar with, but I appreciate the entry point. Well done. Serah-Marie McMahon, 4903 De Grand Pre, Montreal, QC H2T 2H9 Canada, email, Web [$7.50 48M :17]

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