Sunday, 17 July 2011

Zine Reviews: July '11

xyz #2: kids & babies issue!
Will, London –
xyz is a zine that focuses on sex, gender, and being queer; this issue focuses on those issues in relation to kids and babies.  Specifically, Will writes about how genderqueer behaviour is viewed in children (e.g. the Tomboy trope), mermaids, the agendered Swedish child Pop, how childhood is gendered at toy shops, and the development of gender and sex in early childhood.  Will also considers the phrase “think of the children!”, paternity leave, and the issues that genderqueer parents have to face, such as who gets called mum and who gets called dad.  My personal favourite, however, is a fantastic essay on how Disney villains are presented as queer, and how this attempts to normalise queerphobia for youngsters!  I’d never considered the gentlemanly flamboyance of male villains such as Hook and Jafar, and the androgyny of Ursula (with her plus-sized frame and clumsiness) and Cruella de Vil (with her flat chest and big chin) that make them so threatening.  An orange cover with pink interior pages, the layout is plain but eye-catching.  An entertaining and thoughtful read, xyz is fast becoming one of my favourite British zines.

Spellbook for Reckless Children #1
Ruth, London – driftsong.girlATgmailDOTcom
In this quarter-sized perzine, Ruth writes about some dark material, including living with an abusive partner, feeling trapped in the overbearing fortresses of her schools and mental health wards, and working nights in a dementia unit at a care home.  There are plenty of positive stories here too, such as the tale of her imaginary friend Rainbow Girl, her love of collecting objects she finds on the street, her body manifesto (which includes things such as giving herself permission to take up more space), and being creative.  The positive content is written in Ruth’s gorgeous handwriting with lots of cute little drawings dotted around the place, some of which have been coloured in.  The darker stories she shares in this zine are typed, pasted onto dark backgrounds.  The contrast of light and dark is quite jarring, if I’m honest – I found her darker pieces very haunting and moving, particularly the piece on dementia, which was written beautifully; it feels strange to immediately read a piece on climbing trees and drawing ladybirds on her arms afterwards.  But that’s just a small complaint.  Ruth writes in a beautiful way that draws you in to her world, leaving you wanting to read more, and she coasts from one topic to another effortlessly – the last five pages in particular were some of the best I’d read for a long time.  This zine has a lot of potential – I think in another issue or two, it’ll be perfect.

Mix Zine #3
Fliss, - flisscATgmailDOTcom

What a lovely idea for a zine!  Basically, it’s a mix CD that comes with a booklet revealing a story behind Fliss’ love for each song.  In the introduction, Fliss explains that she wanted to create a zine that was different to what she found at the London Zine Symposium, and how sometimes it feels alienating to be a female music geek in a male-dominated world.  The ideal way to experience this zine is to put the CD on, and read each description while the song plays, savouring each song before moving onto the next.  The only problem with the zine is that if you’re not into the music Fliss chooses, which all seems to have an indie-pop/rock feel, then you’re probably not going to enjoy listening to the CD.  Hence, I’m including the track listing here, so you can make your own minds up before purchasing:
1.      See See Rider – She Sings Alone
2.      The Ecstacy of St. Teresa – What’s
3.      Psychedelic Furs – Heaven
4.      My Autumn Empire – Hatchlings
5.      Mega City Four – So
6.      Pet Shop Boys – King’s Cross
7.      The Fall – Rose
8.      The Outsiders – Lying all the Time
9.      The Slickers – Johnny Too Bad
10.  The Moldy Peaches – Jorge Regula
11.  The Heart Throbs – Kiss Me When I’m Starving
12.  Denim – The Great Pub Rock Revival
13.  The Honeycombs – Have I The Right?
14.  Robyn Hitchcock – 1974
15.  Cat Power – Good Women
16.  Cinerama – Comedienne
17.  Mo-Ho-Bish-O-P – Drop Jaw
18.  Julian Cope – Black Sheep
19.  Seafood – We Felt Maroon
20.  Television Personalities – The Dream Inspires
21.  The Chameleons – Ever After
If you like the sound of the music, then you’ll love this zine.  It reads like a letter from a good friend, and the way Fliss writes about each song is really nice. A chaotic cut-and-paste layout filled with stickers and Fliss’ messy handwriting adds a certain charm to it all.

Steve Larder, Nottingham – stevejipwitAThotmailDOTcom / Isy Morgan, England –
A joint Rum Lad and Morgenmuffel zine, which tracks their adventure to Scotland across Cairngorms National Park, through to Edinburgh.  We read about their encounters with the locals, trekking through fields of snow without snowshoes, visiting zinefests and DIY workshops, making new friends, admiring the gothic architecture, and partying at the Forest Café.  We also read about Isy’s involvement with volunteer-run vegan kitchens and cafés, and the problems with how we eat today (mostly due to the focus on profits and efficiency instead of public health and demand).  Instead of dividing the zine into a separate front and back half, both Steve and Isy tell the story a page each at a time.  It’s a really lovely way of sharing their adventures, making the zine feel more like a collaborative effort.  Both have an unique illustration style, and write their story in a cozy, intimate way. 

The Venns: A quest for the perfect pub quiz team
Quint & Jow, Sheffield - nowandvennATgmailDOTcom
The Venns is a research project about finding the perfect pub quiz, where Quint advances her own Quiz Venn Theory based on research conducted at various pub quizzes in Sheffield.  This theory is illustrated with flow charts, pie charts, graphs, equations, and venn diagrams.  It’s a lovely zine for pub quiz enthusiasts, which also features articles on why Quint and Jow love pub quizzes, the archetypes within a pub quiz team (e.g. The Ditherer), pub quiz etiquette, sample quiz questions, and rules of pub quiz nature (including “never second-guess your first instinct”).  There’s also a list of pub quizzes in and around Sheffield to check out.  A fun little read that made me want to check out more pub quizzes (even though I’m terrible at them)!  I also highly recommend their blog,, which contains lots of humorous venn diagrams.

1 comment:

  1. I got the second mix zine and found it to be quite varied but more than anything it was quite postpunk. Loved it nonetheless. Especially as mixes are a great way of discovering new favourite bands based on what they sound like rather than preconceptions, such a good zine idea wish I'd thought of it myself :)