Monday, 29 April 2013

April Zine Reviews: Sheffield Zine Fest Edition

Here I've reviewed some of the zines I bought and traded at last month’s Sheffield Zine Fest (read our review of the event here).  I’ve been a bit lax with updating this blog recently, so I hope you enjoy this bumper zine review post. :)

We Heart Lisa Simpson
Edited by Beth Sivyer, London –
An awesome concept – this zine is all about Lisa Simpson and her feminist credentials, and includes songs, drawings, opinion pieces on why Lisa is awesome, and screencaps of some of her best moments from the TV series (including a scene in the school cafeteria where she is seen reading ‘The Bell Jar’!).  Printed in full colour, and with lots of Lisa-themed artwork dotted throughout to break up the text, it’s a lovely zine to look at – bit of a shame that the zine is entirely written in comic sans font, but that’s just me being a font snob!

Bi Community News
Edited by Jen Y, Manchester –
BCN is a regularly-published (maga)zine for bisexuals, with lots of great resources on offer including local group listings, news, upcoming events, national bi organisations, and publications of interest.  Alongside the regulars we read some longer articles and opinion pieces; this issue features writings on mythbusting bisexuality, gender and romantic relationships, and reflections on starting up a bi group.  The zine has a professional, almost glossy feel, and this issue is printed entirely in colour.  I cannot recommend this zine enough to my fellow bisexuals!  I had the pleasure of meeting the editor Jen at Sheffield Zine Fest, and she tells me that BCN is always looking for contributors – drop her a line at editor @

Tempest In A Teacup #6
Louise, Lincoln –
The 6th issue of Louise’s feminist perzine, written especially for SZF, seems to focus on moving beyond her negative experiences to make positive changes in her life.  We read stories about major life changes including new friendships, new pets, travel, loss, bereavement, assault, and career change.  Louise closes the zine with a positive piece on her hopes for 2013 and beyond.  The layouts are fairly plain and cute this time around – mostly black text on white background, with some stickers and pretty pictures of women and cats here and there. A very nice read!

Hard Femme
Kirsty Fife, Lewisham –
This is half-sized perzine all about the concept of hard femme, femininity outside of social norms, and what this means to the author.  Rather than focusing on the style aspect of hard femme, Kirsty focuses on themes of resilience, self-reliance, strength, survival, and “femininity on its own terms”.  Her hard femme identity includes being fat and strong, being marked with bruises and scars, modifying her body, and surviving a childhood partly lived in poverty.  Entirely handwritten in Kirsty’s scruffy capitalised handwriting, laid over leopard-print backgrounds, the layout itself feels very true to the hard femme aesthetic!  A powerful, thoughtful zine that gave me lots to think about.

I Love Myself: A Self-Care Zine
Kirsty Fife, Lewisham –
Another zine by the same lady; this time, a minizine on the importance of self-love and body confidence, which folds out to reveal an A4 “self-care map” full of self-care tips.  Love it love it love it - I want to photocopy this zine and put a copy inside every glossy magazine I see!

Awaiting an Epiphany
Rachel, Stoke-on-Trent -
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this zine for aaages!  It’s a perzine that focuses on the things that mean the most to Rachel, and the cover features a painting of her late rabbit Taff, whom Rachel had hoped to write about but couldn’t quite face just yet.  Inside, we read about her ME and recent frustrations where she was badly misrepresented in a local newspaper interview on ME (reading it made me sooo angry!), her love for the Manic Street Preachers and meeting the band, and a thoughtful piece on extinction and the lesser-known species that humanity has wiped out.  The zine closes with some zine reviews, and lists of things Rachel has enjoyed recently.  A lovely read, with a nice variety of topics.  

D&D Virgin
Emily, Sheffield –
D&D Virgin is a friendly zine all about the author’s love for fantasy roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons, and includes an explanation as to how the author got into D&D, the story of her first gaming experience (where she played the role of an elf cleric named Tia), a basic guide to the game, and a glossary of terms.  I’m not sure I’d have the patience to play D&D (some games can potentially stretch to 10 years long!), but Emily’s enthusiasm is very infectious!

Buy Her Candy #5
Bettie, Sheffield –
This issue of BHC was written for Sheffield Zine Fest (Bettie was one of the organisers!), and has a mostly positive and strong tone.  Bettie writes about feeling empowered at Sheffield Reclaim the Night, meeting fellow “rad fats” at the Yorkshire Rad Fat plus-size clothes swap event, tabling at London Queer Zine Fest, and more thoughts on her identity as a “hard femme dyke”.  The zine closes with an angrier piece on her frustrations that so many zines and blogs about body hair focus on the “normal” areas of pit, leg and pubic hair, with no mention of facial hair or excessively dark/thick hair (completely agree with this – I’d also add that many of these writers tend to be white, thin, cisgendered women too, which grants them certain privileges when it comes to growing out body hair)!  An introspective and personal zine, this may be my favourite issue so far!

Jacob Tomlinson, England –
I’ve started to get into comic zines more and more, and Pylon is one of my recent favourites.  The story is described by the author as “about not spiralling inside online and the importance of nice people in your life”.  After getting frustrated and angsty online, the protagonist is taken on an adventure by an internet friend where they travel to another dimension and skim stones over the clouds.  Expressive drawings and a great story make this a lovely read.  The cover looks good too, printed on glossy paper.

Bolam Retrospective (Grab bag/package)
Richard Bolam –
Bolam is a mixed-media modern artist, and this Retrospective package is part of an “ongoing project to catalogue, curate and present [his] life's work in art” towards his 50th birthday.  The zine package doesn’t seem to be a retrospective in and of itself, but part of the larger project; having read through his blog, I think the project will culminate in an art exhibition, although it’s not immediately clear whether this is the case.  The package contains issues 1 through 7 of Bolam’s art zine, along with other fun goodies including a fridge magnet, some coasters, and business cards.  I have to be honest and say that I didn’t understand what the art meant, but I don't want to be dismissive of Bolam’s work - perhaps I'm not the right audience.  I can’t say I found the content engaging, as I’m not a fan of modern art, but from a design point of view, it’s a lovely tactile package, and each issue is very different from the others, so it feels like a good introduction to Bolam’s work.  Check out his website for more info about the Retrospective project.


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