Sunday, 22 May 2011

Zine Reviews: May ‘11 (London Zine Symposium edition)

I picked up A LOT of zines when I went to the London Zine Symposium last month:

As I went straight back to university the following week to finish off my degree, and rant about said degree on my blog, I had no time to pick my way through this big pile of wonderful zines!  It was very frustrating.  I mean, I didn’t even have time to sleep and shower most of the time, let alone read zines.  But 3 weeks ago, I finished my degree and came home for good, to start the dreaded job search.  And so, during a particularly bad bout of procrastination, I sifted through my entire pile of LZS paraphernalia and picked most of it over the course of one glorious afternoon.  The following zine reviews are all zines that I picked up that weekend, and loved. By means of apologising for Spill the Zines’ lack of activity in the past few weeks, this is an extra-long zine review post.  Let us know in the comments what your favourite zines were from LZS!

Cath x


Virgin #2
Anonymous, England - virginzineATgmailDOTcom

The first issue of Virgin, published in summer 2009, was written by one anonymous girl about her own experiences of being a virgin.  This issue, finally published last month, is “the submissions issue”, made up of other people’s stories instead of the author/editor’s own.  The submissions cover topics of disability, fear of intimacy, virginity as a burden rather than a blessing, asexuality, lesbianism, sexual abuse, self-worth and virginity as an exclusive heterosexual concept.  As well as these submissions, the author/editor writes about the overwhelmingly positive feedback she got about the first issue, and the way the issues of asexuality and choice were misinterpreted in her original issue.  The zine is half-sized, with clean layouts.  For a mere 75p, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this zine, as it’s a really thought-provoking read.  Available to buy from Marching Stars distro.

I’m Drawing a Blank #1
Tukru, Kent - tukrulovesyouATgmailDOTcom
Massive love for this zine.  Tukru’s drawings have featured briefly in her previous zines, but I’m Drawing a Blank is her first solo comic zine, filled with lots of hand drawings and Tukru’s beautiful handwriting.  As well as some self-portraits and accompanying text explaining the picture (e.g. kick-ass Tukru holding a rifle, informing us that she is the same height as Rambo), there are also drawings of Emma Jane Falconer, Amber Forrester, Buffy, Eric Northman, Kurt Cobain, and her partner Carl.  The writing has a very similar feel to the writing of Your Pretty Face…, very stream-of-consciousness.  Get your hands on a copy, it’s Tukru so you know it’ll be really great. And only £1! Brilliant!

Angry Violist #2
Cambridge – angry.violistATyahooDOTcom
This is described as a zine for “alternative string players who are angry at being forced to play classical music”.  Inside, we read about the author’s viola, the difference between a viola and a violin, being regarded as a failed violin player or being mistaken for a violinist, strange musical phenomena such as the “devil’s interval” and the “brown note” (google ‘em), and inspirational string players.  Angry Violist is one of the more esoteric zines I’ve read – if you’re not really into music, particularly classical music, I think you’d find this zine kinda dull.  Or you might enjoy reading something totally different and learn new things, it depends.  Having studied music at A level, and being a bit of a music geek, I really enjoyed the zine.  It’s written with good humour, and remains intelligent without slipping into territory that’s too academic or dense.  So if you’re a music-y type, I highly recommend this zine. The main criticism I have for this zine is the fact that it is very difficult to read in certain places due to the poor photocopy quality and small font size.  Some of the fonts themselves are  quite difficult to read too (a quick note: sans-serif fonts photocopy the best, so I recommend them to zinesters over serif fonts!). Other than that, great!

No Comment: The Defendant’s Guide to Arrest
London –
This is being included for its sheer usefulness.  It’s a free zine on how to deal with getting arrested – what happens when you get arrested, contacting a solicitor, being interviewed, police tactics to force out a confession, and what to do if a friend or relative is arrested.  Very useful; I’m glad I picked it up.  I mean, I hope I don’t get arrested anytime soon, but you never know.  Download your free copy here.

Fanzine Ynfytyn #8
Emma, Kent - emmajanefalconerATgmailDOTcom
I met Emma for the first time at LZS and bought a few zines from her, as I hadn’t read Fanzine Ynfytyn before.  This was my favourite of the bunch – a quarter-sized, horizontal zine printed on purple paper, with pretty floral layouts.  At only 20 pages long, it’s a quick read, most of which is taken up by an article about songs that remind Emma of certain times of her life.  These include 36 Degrees by Placebo, which reminds her of being in a girls’ grammar school at 13, and Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode reminding her of her 22nd birthday.  There’s also a short article on why she likes aquariums, and hates seagulls.  Very sweet.

Scratch that Itch #3
Kathleen, Leeds – iloveavocadoAThotmailDOTcom
I loved this zine – it’s subtitled “No poetry, angst, or trainhopping stories” so you know it’s proudly different from most perzines.  After a brief update of her life in the opening pages, Kathleen jumps straight into the story of her hectic life as a newly-qualified paramedic.  This includes the exhausting 13-hour shifts, and dealing with death in work.  There ‘s also an AMAZING rewriting of Jesus’ crucifixion story, which involves a wise-cracking troll called Smartie and 2 Unlimited’s 1994 hit “No Limit”!  Written by her nine-year-old self, it’s very sweet, and includes her original drawings of Jesus and Smartie being crucified!  Although the young Kathleen meant no harm by this story, it’s not for the easily offended!  I really love the way this zine looks too, with various mementos, maps and playing cards dotted throughout.  Alongside her writing, Kathleen includes some great hand-drawn artwork, and a pull-out poster of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy.  My fave page, however, was a hand-drawn and –written piece called “I fought the chore!”, all about getting through the shitty jobs of cleaning and cooking!  I really loved this zine, and devoured it in minutes – it’s honest, down-to-earth, and light-hearted, with cool cut-and-paste layouts and great stories.

Out of the City and Into the Trees #1
Natalie, Edinburgh - out-of-the-city-and-into-the-treesATriseupDOTnet
This is why going to zine fests is such a great experience – I would’ve never heard of this zine otherwise.  It’s a half-sized perzine, featuring journal entries about a young activist’s decision to move out of her parents’ house at 16 to live in a treehouse on a protest site.  The entries track the author’s adventures with protesting and getting into trouble with the law,  forming new friendships, and finally feeling like an animal instead of a machine.  Also includes some lovely poetry written among the trees.  The poetry pages are laid out in a really cool way, but the rest of the zine is plain black text on white paper.  This was probably my favourite zine of the whole bunch – I found Natalie’s stories really inspiring and excitng.  Plus it’s only £1, which is a fantastic price for the amount of goodness you get inside.  Available from Scale Trees distro.

Other things I picked up that were enjoyable:
Gorilla Film Magazine – a free half-sized zine I picked up in Rough Trade, all about filmmaking.  Very entertaining.
The Stool Pigeon – a free bi-monthly newspaper featuring lots of written pieces and cartoons.
The Secret Anarchist History of Newcastle – an entertaining and informative zine on anarchism in Newcastle.
Pistachio Magazine –a tongue-in-cheek “pastiche to what ‘lad-culture’ is all about”. Articles available online here.
Profiting from Occupation: UK and International Companies Complicit in Israeli War Crimes against Palestinians – distributed by Corporate Watch. Scary stuff.

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