Thursday, May 31, 2012
Cyanotype: a how-to guide
This ¼ size zine introduces the world of using sunlight to make blueprints / exposures on paper, cotton, wool and other materials. The process involves some basic chemistry & a small darkroom set-up but can be done in anyone’s house or apartment. I appreciate how comprehensive this zine is – explaining the history and step by step process for producing your own cyanotype graphics. There is also a brief resource list for further reading / learning. Let's get away from the computer printer & back to basics (and fun).
Monday, May 28, 2012
Ross Winn - Digging Up a
Let’s face it: Ross Winn was not a saint. When Emma Goldman raised $60 in funds to help his impoverished, struggling family, Winn quickly used the money to buy a new printing press rather than to feed and clothe his wife and son. Yet this act epitomizes the passion Ross Winn embodied for his anarchist philosophies. He was on fire for social change & printed words were his tools. Over several decades, Winn published numerous journals including Winn’s Firebrand and The Advance. He understood that a free press is the key to discourse, that ideals and ideas need to flow between people in order to manifest in the realm of action.
With Digging Up a Tennessee Anarchist, Shaun & Ally are the curators of a perfectly choreographed zine. Robert Helms writes the introduction about the significance of documenting anarchist history so that we have role models and references to help frame our own philosophies. His meeting Shaun & Ally sent them down the path of uncovering and documenting Ross Winn’s life. This zine includes a biography of Winn, an essay about the process of discovering his history, letters written by his son to Emma Goldman, and excerpts from Winn’s journals. Digging Up a Tennessee Anarchist is a substantial, cohesive, highly readable body of work. Paper journals and zines are more relevant than ever as we struggle to communicate in the age of communication and create dialogue above the din & roar of technology. Through his dedication to social change and the craft of journalism, Ross Winn heralded inspiration that will now, thankfully, not languish in obscurity.
|actual zine cover is in black & white|
$15 / 4 issues
The centerpiece of this issue is a narrative recounting two days of a grueling walk that Martha took with her boyfriend through Oregonian countryside titled “The Walking Trip – A Story About Learning How to Be Okay”. I could feel Martha’s pain as she bravely recounts what I would consider the walk from hell and the insights / lessons she encounters along the way. None of the writing by other authors in this issue grabbed me. From a reader’s standpoint, Somnambulist might work better as a perzine than a litzine.
Friday, May 25, 2012
The Aardvark #3
full size / 20 pp $2
I don’t know what the scientific evidence is, however in the past two decades I have subjectively observed a decline in not only the quantity of people who read for enjoyment or education, but also the quality of the reading process itself. People’s attention spans have been subverted by television and the internet, e-readers, ipads, and an endless array of gadgetry.
The tactile and tangible experience of reading books is a joy, one that humans have connected with for hundreds of years. Deep reading involves attention, thought, and reflection with minimal distraction. Deep reading is an essential ability that shapes critical thinking and comprehension skills.
Art Vark’s newsletter / zine The Aardvark is an affirming, literate publication that asks us to be mindful of the relationship between reading and technology, and our own reading habits and choices. The Aardvark is a celebration of words on paper. Corporate CEOs like Steve Jobs (RIP) and whomever is the CEO of Amazon would have us abandon the ship of books and paper like passengers fleeing the Titanic. The problem is: corporate technocrats haven’t thought about the societal implications of such a rash act. They have only thought about billions in profits to be gleaned from digital culture consumers.
The Aardvark moves fluently through philosophical discussions and introduces the reader to some thought provoking, overlooked tomes. There is more substance within its 20 pages than I’ve read in some full length books. If you care about the act of reading, and the future of reading, I propose immersing yourself in these pages.
I recognize the irony of cheerleading for the world of paper on a blog. Yet I seek balance – this blog is also a paper zine and even a radio show. I do 95% of my reading away from a screen, and will always choose paper over an “e-anything”. As we plunge deeper into the digital age, paper zines like The Aardvark may become archaic, or they may not – they may become the impetus for thoughtful discourse that moves us in a direction of equilibrium and reason.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
28 pages / $2 or trade
Even though I grew up in
I totally relate to this zine about a teenaged door-to-door candy salesman
trying to scrape a few bucks together in the San
Gabriel Valley ( California). I remember
my numerous preadolescent misadventures peddling Grit Magazine and other
various sundries in my small neighborhood. In Junior Careers, Kelly recalls in vivid detail interactions with the
bossman, customers, and how he wanted to escape from home and make some cash at
the same time. There are incidents with tough bullies, police seeking permits,
drunks, and other candy salesmen. Kelly’s direct writing style draws the reader
into the scene and immerses you in that time and place – I can almost feel the
sidewalks beneath my feet & hear the bossman growling. Now if I only had
some chocolate seashells…
Monday, May 21, 2012
Who’d a thunk it? I’ve read all kinds of zines dealing with esoteric subject matter but this one really surprised me. Crown Jewels of the Wire (published since 1969) is a magazine for insulator collectors. I didn’t even know that people collected insulators! Insulators were first used extensively in the mid-1840s with the invention of the telegraph. They were necessary to prevent the electrical current passing through the wire from grounding out on the pole and making the line unusable. The first insulators were a beeswax soaked rag wrapped around the wire. They worked well in the dry laboratory but soon broke down when exposed to the weather. The next concept was a glass knob, which looked much like a bureau knob one might still find. By 1860, original insulator models could be found in both porcelain and glass. While glass was more common from the beginning for telegraph and telephone line insulation, porcelain would later gain a firm foothold as the preferred material for insulating high voltage power lines. Over time, glass manufacturers would produce hundreds of designs; millions of insulators were made of glass and porcelain, then later of rubber, plastic and other composite materials.
The February 2012 issue of Crown Jewels of the Wire is packed with photographs of colorful insulators and well written articles. There is even an article about foreign postage stamps that featured insulators in their artwork. There are descriptions of rare insulators, letters to the editor, even some comics! This zine is an education unto itself & highly recommended for those of us who enjoy curiosities & learning about new topics – and who knows? You just might find a new hobby or passion. For more information see www.cjow.com
Friday, May 18, 2012
Growing Things: A Guide for Beginning Gardeners
In the closing thoughts to this zine, Joshua James Amberson (of Paper Airplane zine) writes “I think zines can be the perfect medium for learning the basics of a subject. Instructional books are often intimidating and offer too much information for the beginner (and I say this as a bookseller by profession). Zines are accessible and a good size for introducing a range of concepts.”
Concisely said! I for one prefer the format of zines for learning new information, then following up with books later if I choose to immerse in a subject. Growing Things: A Guide for Beginning Gardeners presents a wealth of information in just 40 pages. Readers will learn everything from preparing soil to planting seeds, watering, dealing with insects, harvesting seeds for next year’s crop, and much more. The six authors who contribute do an excellent job of demystifying gardening and related topics for those of us who have yet to cultivate a green thumb. With summer upon us, now is the time to garden … and it will feel great knowing where your food is coming from.
Growing Things: A Guide for Beginning Gardeners is available from ms.valerieparkdistro.com
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Real Life A Magical Guide to Getting Off the Internet
A zine by Maranda Elizabeth &
One of the emerging issues of the past two decades has been, in my opinion, internet or screen addiction. It is an issue I personally struggle with to the point where I have declared at least one “technological Sabbath” a week and am working my way up to two.During the Sabbath (usually about 30 hours) I avoid technology, avoid buying things, connect with others, read, write, and enjoy being with my family.
Maranda Elizabeth &
zine could not have been published at a more appropriate time in our culture. I
see people whose smart phones never leave their hands, who send and answer
texts compulsively, who lose sleep because they are surfing the web aimlessly,
all the while their real, flesh and blood, body and soul lives and
relationships are slipping into the abyss. Dave Cave
The catch-22 about screen addiction is that in these times, unlike alcohol where sobriety is essential to heal alcoholism, few people can realistically retreat to a pre-technology lifestyle. At the very least, most jobs require use of a computer. Real Life A Magical Guide to Getting Off the Internet offers strategies and asks the right questions to help the reader wrestle with their own online addiction. There is extensive discussion about Facebook and how to disconnect … and truly reconnect with the people and activities that matter in our lives.
This is a well written, informative and essential zine. For more information check out schoolformaps.etsy.com
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Zine Review: Dangerous Hair-Raising Radical Tones
by Sarah (scaredsilly)
We’ve all made mixtapes for someone at some point in our lives (okay, so younger people probably add songs to one another’s iPods) … there is an art to creating a really potent mixtape involving progression, tone, mood, segues, themes, surprises, and the overall ambiance of songs. Finding a prerecorded mixtape is a peek into someone’s existence frozen in time. That’s part of the appeal of this mini-zine that explores a mixtape found & purchased at a thrift shop for nineteen cents. Sarah comments on each tune and what significance she thinks it may (or may not) have had for the anonymous mixtape creator. This zine is written in a breezy style and is a fun read.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Railroad Semantics #5
100 pages / half letter
Imagine you’ve embarked on a journey with only a few essential items in your backpack & a not-so-trusty cellphone … almost everywhere you travel on this journey you will be breaking the law, and almost everyone you encounter may be hostile. You’ll take pictures & write in a notebook as a chronicle of your journey. You’ll brave the elements. You may not arrive at your intended destination, and if you do arrive, it may not be on your timetable or on your terms. And almost everything you do on your journey poses a physical risk.
You’ll find all of this & more in Aaron Dactyl ‘s zine Railroad Semantics. Issue #5 continues the tradition of trainhopping journals from the tracks. Aaron relates his misadventures and is a tour guide into a rarely seen world, traversing ominous and beauteous landscapes. His zine includes news clippings related to train culture, exceptional photography, and lots of pics of railroad graffiti … this is a zine to disappear into … you can almost feel the rumble beneath the boxcar as you read. Highly literate & highly recommended.
Railroad Semantics is available from Microcosm Publishing.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Rise Fall Repeat #2
by Nathan Atlas Fox
30 pages / $5
Four things really caught my attention in Rise Fall Repeat. The first is the brilliant graphic attention to detail and interplay between the photography and cut n paste text. The second is a piece titled “Waking Life” that is poetry in prose, revealing simple yet profound thoughts. The third is a photograph of sidewalk graffiti that poses the question “Instead of picking your poison, why don’t you choose a cure?” And the fourth is a heartfelt essay that calls into question rape culture and how such violence is still tolerated in our society. Rise Fall Repeat #2 embodies all of the qualities of an exceptional zine, a writer’s voice and vision liberated in print.
24 pages / $5
by James the Stanton
Brightly colorful zine with a plethora of original drawings & cartoons in a variety of styles. The title pages says it is " a zine comprised of doddle-based conglomerate matter to fill the voids in your day, left by inconveniently shaped hobbies, jobs & relationships, with carefully fitted nonsensical cartoon filler." I particularly enjoyed the drawings of a school bus and telephone wires. Flermp is a highly inventive visual zine.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Mulnix was gracious enough to send me the back issues of his zine & this is where it all began.
#1 set the bar high for graphic design & quality. The stories that unfold
here might be considered “genre” fiction as they definitely blur the line away
from typical literary narratives. The protagonists (or perhaps they are
anti-heroes) are caught up in situations they have little control over,
or worse, are oblivious to. The writing is straightforward without a lot of the
flourishes that fiction is noted for – this is clean, minimalist work where
there is more bubbling up behind the scenes than meets the eye, a la Ray Carver. Smog City