Friday, 23 December 2011

Zine Reviews: December '11

Exploding the Myth #5
Kira Swales, Chester –
The fifth issue of Kira’s feminist perzine is a little different from previous issues – this one is more text-heavy, and comes in quarter-size, my favourite zine size!  Kira explains in the introduction that these changes to the zine reflect the changes she has experienced in her life since writing ETM #4 – such changes include studying at university, living away from home and feeling like a visitor when returning to her home in Hull, growing older, and her changing attitude towards her appearance.  We also read a queer take on The Famous Five character George, diary entries from her visit to Brighton in February, and a list of interesting things Kira has found on her travels.  The layouts are mostly blocks of typewritten text laid over pretty backgrounds, with some handwritten sections, and some illustrations.  Definitely my favourite issue of Exploding the Myth!

Silence, Cupcake
Amelia Jane, Bristol –
Silence Cupcake is a typical mental health perzine – inside, we read introspective pieces discussing her struggle with depression and social anxiety and attempts to medicate, trying to pass as “normal”, a lack of emotional support, touching reflections on the death of her grandfather, and her future.  The style is unusual, however – Amelia writes on graph paper, which is hard to read in places.  The Spanish comic book imagery used throughout doesn’t quite fit –though perhaps it was used deliberately.  The zine opens with a mouth-watering page on cookery, which is well-written, but feels rather out of place.  Having said that, there are many lovely bits in the zine – a 2-page spread on “the game” of “acting normal” for one (“Smile when you’re not happy – we don’t like sad people, they make us uncomfortable”), and the way Amelia emphasises certain aspects of the text by spelling them out in large letters.  While it was very well-written, the style was a bit too messy and not cohesive enough for my liking.  For only 50p from Marching Stars, it’s definitely worth a flick through.  The author has a great feminist blog called That Fucking Hippy that you should check out too.

Cube: Issue 12 (autumn 2007)
Love love love this zine!  I picked it up at the freebies table at Sheffield Zine Fest 2011, and I’m so glad I did!  A quarterly Sheffield-based publication written by young people, Cube is somewhere between a zine and a magazine; the (mostly) professional look of a magazine, combined with the content and feel of a zine.  Inside this issue, there’s a nice mixture of articles, most of which carry a young, feel-good feel – among many other things, we read about how to overcome shyness, the development of the movie soundtrack, flash mobs, the silent suffering of clinical depression, the rise of Wiccanism, and women in rock and indie.  Sheffield-specific pieces include a feature on the best parks in the city, and the story of the infamous Henderson’s Relish.  There are also interviews (one interview is with cover stars “Grrrls Next Door”, a three-piece riot grrrl band), reviews, a fashion page, inspiring quotes, and random facts (for example, did you know that Donald Duck is banned in Finland because he doesn’t wear pants?).  Cube is fun and diverse – it kinda feels like the magazine that most university publications aspire to be.  Highly recommended, even more so if you’re from Sheffield.

A Basic Introduction to Basic Self-Care
No contact information
I picked this zine up on a freebie table at one of autumn’s zine fairs.  It’s a smart idea – an 8-page quarter-sized zine on self-care that opens up into an A3 poster which illustrates what to do when you find an unconscious person.  Written by health care students and anarchists, the zine aims to “break down the hierarchy that exists between health care professionals and patients” by teaching its readers how to self-examine, and which symptoms require urgent medical attention.  The information in this zine is useful, though very thin on the ground – I would’ve liked to have read more about how to recognise what is “normal” for yourself, other places to self-examine (the zine only covers breast and testicle exams), or self-care via a good lifestyle/diet.  Considering it was written by health care students, there are no insights in this zine that I hadn’t already picked up from the internet or from a TV doctor.  A great idea, but not entirely well executed.

This Is Water #2: Seven Days of Trying to Pay Attention
Jean McEwan, Sheffield - jeanmariemcewanATgmailDOTcom
This zine was such a joy to read.  I feel as if recently I’ve been bogged down by too many samey perzines (often focused on a twee/cutesy style), but this restored my faith in that oft-used zine genre.  Inspired by the speech of the same name by writer David Foster Wallace, the zine documents a week of Jean’s life during which she pays attention to the little beautiful moments.  These include receiving a postcard from a good friend, taking a walk through the autumnal park and observing the colours changing in the trees, and working her way through Wallace’s epic posthumous novel, “Infinite Jest”.  The zine is illustrated beautifully with handwriting, doodles, ticket stubs, typewritten pages, postcards, and cut and paste collages.  A particularly nice touch is where she includes a photocopy of 2 pages of Wallace’s novel, which, upon reading, I instantly added to my amazon wish list!  I love the concept, the visual style, and the content.  Can’t recommend enough!


Spill the Zines will be back in the new year.  Happy holidays everyone!

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