Sunday, 11 September 2011

Zine Reviews: September '11

Bi Community News #107
edited by Jen Y, Manchester –
A long-running full-sized (maga)zine published out of Manchester, that focuses on the UK bisexual community.  Bi Community News (or BCN) claim to be the biggest-selling bisexual magazine in the UK.  It has a fairly professional, glossy feel, with each issue featuring readers’ letters, reviews of bi publications, reviews of bi events (such as BiCon 2010), lists of local bi groups and their contact info, bi organisations, LGBT activist groups, upcoming bi events and LGBT Pride dates, and a column on famous bisexuals (this issue’s bisexual is Casanova).  Inside this issue, we have features on whether the 4th season of Torchwood will be bi enough, bisexuality in the TV show Glee, a study on imagining your future as a bisexual, and how to run a large-scale bi event.  They also have a fantastic website with lots of resources for bisexuals, including a list of bi bloggers, a list of local bi groups, how to set up your own bi outreach group, and bi’s in the media.  I highly recommend both the website and the zine – very useful, informative, and entertaining!

Xyz #3
Will, London –
Another fantastic issue of xyz by Will!  This one centers around the concept of femme, and is packed full of intelligent articles, alongside some more personal pieces.  This issue includes pieces on femmephobia, the history of the colour pink and its origin as a boy’s colour (“pink was a fainter shade of red: strong, yet tempered enough to dress a child in”), make up, the issues ze has with the campaign “Pink Stinks”, feeling nervous around femme girls, unisex toilets, the poor treatment of femininity under the established medical model (e.g. the exclusively female “condition” called “hysteria”), and attending a protest march with Queer Resistance.  The zine is rounded off with a lovely cut-and-paste page on how feminisms are for everyone.  Half-sized with a red cover and a pretty little drawing on the front, it’s pretty nice to look at too.  I always learn so much when reading Will’s zines, and devour them as soon as they arrive through my front door.  If you haven’t read an issue yet, get hold of a copy right away (all are available at Marching Stars distro), you won’t regret it!

Not Lonely #6 & The Malcontent’s Book Club
Hannah, Scotland –
I’ve decided to review both together, as both were released together!  Not Lonely #6 is a little different from previous issues, as it consists of journal entries detailing her eight-day journey to Holland earlier in the year.  Some things we read about include the journey there, and Hannah’s nervousness about flying, exploring the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, visiting fairytale-themed amusement part Efteling, and Dutch culture and language.  Some photos and mementos from her trip decorate the pages.  Despite being lifted directly from her journal, the text is very well-written (unlike my journal, which is embarrassingly unsophisticated in style and content!). There’s an article at the end about Hannah’s favourite  books from her childhood, which feels a little out of place in this issue, if I’m honest, though I still enjoyed it.  The Malcontents’ Book Club is a new book review zine written by Hannah, in which she writes (sometimes scathing) reviews of ten works, including fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs.  Highly recommended if you’re an avid reader.  Both are laid out in Hannah’s handmade style, with pretty fonts and images used throughout, and lovely eye-catching covers.

Ellipsis #1
Sarah-Beth, Wolverhampton – kittenesqueATgmailDOTcom
I loved this zine so much!  At only 38 pages, it’s a quick read, but very interesting and well-written.  There’s lots of lovely perziney goodness inside Sarah-Beth’s first zine, including her current loves, thoughts on why food shouldn’t have a moral value, being brave and doing things alone, things that annoy her, her soundtrack for winter and spring, her friends, and riding her bike.  Very pretty, neat layouts, cute drawings, and a fantastic cover! Very well done, Sarah-Beth - I’m looking forward to issue 2!

Culture is Not Your Friend #1
Paul Williams, Stafford –
British illustrator Paul Williams’ first zine (whose artwork is really fantastic, so do take a look at his website sometime).  Surprisingly, this zine doesn’t feature quite as much art as expected; instead, Paul writes on typically perzine-y topics – experiencing a lack of motivation, the importance of art, going through a quarter-life crisis, technology, and being a bit awkward.  There are lots of pages throughout titled “quick thoughts”, where Paul relays some small insights, such as: where will technology be in the next decade? And, do ghosts really exist?  Dotted throughout the zine are QR codes (these things that you sometimes see on gig posters and the like) that, when scanned, will take you to additional content and music online.  Alas, I’m not a technically savvy person so I haven’t tried them out for myself, but it’s a very smart idea!  His artwork in the zine is lovely (including the cool cover), but the other pages are fairly plain.  A cracking little zine.

Shape and Situate: Posters of Inspirational European Women #2
Edited by Melanie Maddison, Leeds – m_k_maddisonAThotmailDOTcom
A brilliant half-sized comp-zine featuring 23 unique posters, each celebrating an inspiring European woman.  The poster subjects are varied, ranging from musicians such as Nana Mouskouri, to activists such as Jayaben Desai; from scientists such as Jocelyn Bell Burnell, to writers such as Angela Carter.  I found reading about these inspirational women, many of whom I regret to say I’d never heard of, very enlightening – I think it’s important to learn about the pioneering women that came before us, who worked (and are sometimes still working) to further the feminist cause in Europe.  Melanie also lists a number of helpful links to further relevant reading, viewing, and research.  My favourite quote from the zine, taken from a page dedicated to Ari Up and Poly Styrene: “To be normal is not a healthy aspiration”.

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