Zinethug #12
March 2009

#20, August 2008. Best accompanying note I've ever received with a zine: "Dear Marc, I get the sense from your web site that you won't dig this one, but what the hell right? Aim high. Or, failing that, send a zine to Portland. . . ." That's the attitude! I skipped the first two pages of introduction because of god awful handwriting, and really, how could you beat the personal salutation I got? The rest of the zine (which is typed, thank you) I intended to dislike. (Jonathan's plan, of course, was to fool me with reverse psychology. He thought I would take his note as a challenge and give him a glowing review, just to be contrary.) But no! Battle of wills aside, Abort! held my interest. Son of a gun! Like, I usually have no head for philosophy. I've never read Hegel, and would no doubt insist that we change the subject immediately, if someone brought him up at a party. But Jonathan approaches him in a manner that is comprehensible? What happened? There is some writing about Borges's A New Refutation of Time that made me think some seriously deep thoughts. Dude! Maybe it's because he includes Back to the Future analogies. Less brainy topics covered include: impotence (followed by self portraits of the author whacking it); Eldridge Cleaver and Bikini Kill (compared and contrasted); and the words/phrases "please", "thank you", and "I'm sorry" (what they mean literally versus what we mean when we say them). The illustrations were to my liking, as well—sketchy and rough, not at all like the text. It pains me to say this, Jonathan, but I quite dug this one. Better luck (disappointing me) next time. Reviewed by Marc. [$2, digest, 68 pages, copied]
Jonathan Spies, 45 E. 7th St. #106, New York, NY 10003.

Basic Paper Airplane
#2. This zine really surprised me. It didn't look like much, but it turned out to be one of my favorites in the bunch. It's text layered on top of diagrams of knot-making, actually quite incredible knot formations that look easy but probably take many tries to get right. Joshua writes short essays about genealogy, living with and without a car, the significance of the American dollar, an interview with a film-maker friend, and a report on the ghosts of Snohomish County. I haven't read this much sincerity and thought in a zine in a long time. He has a really great voice, and is able to express himself in natural, original way. It was such a pleasant read, I hope he makes more issues like he suggests to himself in the final pages. Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Digest-sized mini, 18 pps., $2 or trade]
Joshua Amberson, P.O. Box 2645 Olympia, WA 98507.

BFF (Brainfag Forever)
A funny, fearless comic artist grows up in public. This portable anthology condenses an agonized semi-life and a wide spectrum of styles, from the gutter to the aether. Like all your great comics people, Nate Beatty blends genius and self-hatred without compromise. Fuck yeah, it's recommended. Fuck you if you don't think so. Reviewed by Emerson. [$8, 224 pp., paperback book]
Microcosm Publishing, 222 S. Rogers St., Bloomington, IN 47404.

Call & Response / orga{ni}sm
#3. America has a larger percentage of incarcerated citizens than any other nation on earth. 25% of inmates worldwide stamp American license plates and subsist on American tomato paste. Prison might be the only growth industry we've got left. Yes, there are sociopathic assholes in our midst, and I'd rather not split a cab with them, but America's prison-industrial complex is an out-of-control monster, no one seems to know what most of these people are actually in for, and no one seems to be talking about it in mass earshot. Both sides of this split are devoted to prisoners, pretty much the only American zine writers who have any beeswax calling their shit samizdat. C&R showcases the paint-peeling wit of inmate John Adams and the addictive freestyling of inmate Seth Ferranti, a gringo dope-peddler who didn't suffer much of a learning curve himself, but retains a merciless eye for detail. The deceptively precious title orga{ni}sm reps joint life in should-be-zine-god Gianni Simone's adopted Japanese homeland, complete with goofy illustrations. This issue's pick o' the litter, easy. Reviewed by Emerson. [$4 or 3 IRCs worldwide, 54 pp., digest]
Gianni Simone, 3-3-23 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama-shi, 226-0027 Kanagawa-ken, Japan.

(#2; undated.) Ten stories (and an introduction) by Tallahassee zinemachine Mike Baker (I reviewed his Lazy Boy last ish [calling it Cozy Boy]; some stuff for this ish, too). I'd've expected plenty of dark sex and homicidal mayhem—and get it—from having looked at his other work ... but not the understatement of (for example) "The Smoke Break". This guy's got some talent. Also some serious issues. Reviewed by Indy. No price listed; sez in GLAG it's two bucks. 36 halfdigest pages.
PO Box 1174, Tallahasse FL 32302

Fake Life
#6. The Champagne of Zines by Mike, CJ, Adi, and "Shit-Rock-It". This issue's theme was love and Valentine's Day. It was kind of a mess. It's filled with rants against the commercial holiday, strange "letters to dad" that I find unbelievable and were probably never sent, comics that are too hard to follow, random sketchy drawings that don't seem to go with any of the stories, and then one story that I thought was about being rejected by a girl, and then maybe that girl was dying, but then it ends with a xeroxed photo of what looks like a 70 year-old black man? Not sure what's going on there... It's a zine that seems to start off with a focus, but then at the last minute they just filled the pages with random shit. Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Digest-sized mini, 39 pps., price unknown]
P.O. Box 1174, Tallahassee, FL 32302-1174.

Fish with Legs
#12. I always enjoy Eric's zines. He appears kind-of cranky and sarcastic, but he's also really thoughtful and positive in his writing. He is a great observer of the details of any given situation, which makes him a good story teller. Issue #12 covers a stint of jury duty (told through the eyes of a wrestling fan, with funny comparisons made such as, "opening arguments" as "cutting promos"), being resigned to the label "loser" when taking up being a bus rider, bus etiquette that anyone would agree with, great things about libraries, and "Fun Facts" which include a non-review of "The Dark Knight" and CD's he has no idea why he bought. Funny stuff! Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Digest-sized mini, 32 pps., $2 or $1 and 2 stamps]
Eric Lyden, 224 Moraine St., Brockton, MA 02301-3664.

Flint River Fiction
(Issue #1; August 2008.) Fiction by four contributors and a (concrete) poem by the editor. Good stuff, too: it lives up pretty well to its hand-numbered stiff-cover ad-rate-announcing ambitions. I liked the longest story the best (surprisingly): an old man enjoying his life. The short-shorts (and where does one actually draw that line?) seem to share a loss-and-betrayal vibe (oh, excuse me, "theme"). I'd gladly look at more of this "independent literary endeavor"; long may it thrive. Reviewed by Indy. "$2.00 an issue, three stamps, or an interesting trade"; 24 digest pages.
Brandon K. Brock, 809 Rose Circle, Bainbridge GA 39819

Fuzzy Lunch Box
#13. My most recent favorite people I've never met. Our heroines turn 31 in Vegas, the sugary ring-pop of the desert, and have the good sense to pad their account with Hometown AOL-level fonts and graphics. Like putting out a zine after 30, drinking oneself silly after 30 takes a commitment — a commitment to solicited shame, inevitable disappointment, and soothing absurdity. FLB FTW. Reviewed by Emerson.

#14, The Bitchin' Issue. There were a few zines in this round's bunch that seem to be made for a small sect of people, maybe a friendship circle, or a local scene. It's filled with a lot of regional references, private jokes, and unknown acronyms. Though they don't have universal appeal, I still really enjoyed entering their "realm" for about 34 pages. This zine takes place in Santa Cruz and two women take turns telling stories about all-day concerts (and maybe being too old for them), new strange employees crashing their workspace, fool-proof rules of dating, a favorites/things that suck page, and a birthday night filled with cheap gifts, sidewalk chalk, and a call to the graffiti police. Their lives seem to center around a bar called "Brady's", which they admit is a rough dump, but it must be a cozy rough dump. The last story in the book is written by a guest to the zine, and he writes about the tolerance of the "Longhairs" at Brady's. He details trying to walk home a totally inebriated head-banger across town and how nearly impossible it was. Pretty funny stuff! Laura, Deborah and their friends seem to have a good time trying to keep their 30's exciting enough to write about. More power to them! Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Digest-sized mini, no price listed, 34 pps.]
309 Cedar St. #34, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

(No. 1, 2008.) Includes Filth Distro Catalogue. "Howard" (as my copy is signed) missed zines like FUCK and Answer ME!, so this is "... what people asked for, stories about famous degenerates" real and imagined, raunch-to-the-face gritty and parallel-universe fantastic: all sorts (but mostly males-with-males). This issue's degenerates include Jesus Christ and supermasochist Bob Flanagan (but any resemblance to persons... you know...) Also there's "Letters From My Boys In Hell" (prison is "a reality much more alive than my own"; our editor's correspondents, the poor bastards, live it). Guest artist (and federal prisoner) Kyle N. has some rape fantasy in this issue; his manifesto's in the distro. As are a couple dozen other offerings, mostly with three-to-a-page summaries here. Mostly no addresses given; get 'em from Filth. Deran Ludd (Sick Burn Cut) is interviewed. Howard'll send you xeroces of Ludd's book at 5 cents a page ... or of Samuel R. Delany's Hogg ... get the idea? Somebody out there has got a copier and he's just determined to spread all kinds of sick ravings all over the country. Deal with it. Reviewed by Indy. $3 for 52 halfdigest pages.

#2. ( I Love Black Bitches. ) The intro editorial commences thusly: I often imagine Christ and Mohammed locked in the 69 position. It offers free lifetime subscriptions to avant-sadist Peter Sotos and anyone who sends me a drawing or a photo of their genitals. And this spunky li'l zine only gets funnier from there. This is a straight-up mayhem zine, people — the beast breathes! Pure shock-for-shock's-sake, but I've rarely seen it done this freely, or at least this free of soggy 90s meta-self-pity, since the mid-70s heyday of Hustler. The occasional sadness is absolutely chilling. Reviewed by Emerson.
PO Box 1174, Tallahassee, FL 32302-1174

(August 2008.) Nickey Robo spent a bunch of her twenties-thus-far on bicycles. Maybe the whole thing started with her pedicab-pedalling gig in Portland? Anyhow, there's 8 pages of "Pedicab Confessions". Also pieces on growing up (private school, private college ...) and her "straight-edge" (drug-free) lifestyle. Said lifestyle appears to have brought her to a well-adjustedness that I can only stare at in stunned awe. Evidently you don't have to be a fringe-azoid whacko to be into zines in th' PDX (Nickey volunteers at IPRC). Who knew. Finally, there's a few pages about overweight-acceptance issues and an unfunny Mad Libs takeoff. "Impavid" means fearless. 32 halflegal pages (color covers) Reviewed by Indy.
Nickey Robo c/o IPRC, 917 SW Oak St # 218, Portland OR 97205

jesus christ super zine!
(#1; undated [2008].) No irony here, folks: it's the main character of the Gospels we're talking about, and our hostess is all about the witnessing. So as usual, I'm instantly pretty alienated: I don't even read much Xian-bashing ... everything's pretty much been said ... But there's a person in there behind all the insistence on discussing everything in terms of The Church. And indeed, ariel is aware of the horrifying-to-outsiders cult-like aspects of her entire life so far. As is her friend (and interviewee in much my favorite piece here) jamy: both young women appear (to some extent) to look at growing up as outgrowing certain parts of their Xian upbringing. So anyhow, there's this coming-of-age stuff throughout. Their youth-group peers are no help in understanding sex, drugs, or alternative church hardcore, for example. It'd sure be worth a trade to anybody wanting a look (from a safe distance) at the culture I hope ariel soon escapes from completely. Reviewed by Indy. $2; trades welcome. 40 digest pages. trades welcome.
ariel birks, c/o sso press, po box 2645, olympia wa 98507.

Just A Moment
By A.M. O'Malley. This is a nice little book of photos. No captions, just photos, mostly taken very up close. Intimate moments, scenes from Portland life, and friends. It's nice of O'Malley to share with the world this little glimpse of her/his life, the only problem I foresee is asking $6 for it. That's $.38 a photo! Nonsense. Oh wait, there's a titty on page 6, so I guess that justifies the price. Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [1/4 size mini, 16 pps. $6]
A.M O'Malley, c/o IPRC 917 SW Oak St. #218, Portland, OR 97205.

(Volume two of the "people" series; 2008.) An arty artifact, first of all, so wander off now if you're among the many who are determined not to get the joke when artists play with audience expectations. Because, on my reading anyway, this is one of those "is there something here I'm not seeing?" jobs and that can be sort of unsettling. What is here for sure includes 13 one-to-a-page drawings of various old-fashioned objects, each surrounded with handwritten notes of varying intelligibilities and topped off with a lovingly-handlettered label (Press, Revolver, Violin ...). This last feature reminds me of me (if way better) in my Will-Eisner-is-God phase. And I showed those doodles to anybody who would look. And some of 'em liked it. So if you don't expect any more than some noodling from a practiced hand, have at it: it's pretty cool to look at and at some level that's supposed to be the whole point, right? Anyhow, maybe he really is making some larger statement than what I've seen here (which is, of course, more than I've said here ... just, you know, no "moment of clarity" type deal). Reviewed by Indy. Wait. What's this. No address. Doggone your eyes, Chandler K. Patton of Keegan Meegan Press and Bindery Portland Oregon! You don't care if anybody orders this or not! (There's no price neither.) 32 digest pages (stiff color cover).

Seven Stories About The Same Dead Cat
#1, by Riley Michael Parker. I have a cat, a rescue cat from Hurricane Katrina. (He gets a creepy yard-long Vietnam-vet stare whenever it rains, which is rare in LA.) I volunteer at a sanctuary for homeless cats. I'm a cat fan. So, as much as I'd love to, I can't review this flash-fiction mini objectively, except to say that I took a fiction-writing class in college, and this dude would've kicked everyone's ass therein. Spoiler! If you're a weak little boy who somehow grew peachfuzz on your balls, and you somehow get lucky with a gal who's way too good for you, and her cat jumps up on the bed to soak up the afterglow, claim you're deathly allergic. You'll be remembered as a wimp, but an efficient wimp. Reviewed by Emerson. [$?, 12 pp., mini]

Sink Hole Zine
#14, Octubre 2008. Shit is straight out of the '90s. This "10th Anniversary Issue" is the first I've seen, but one would guess that the cut n' paste layout, the full size, the editorial content, dark reproduction, comics, and lighthearted tone haven't varied much over the past decade. And I mean that in the most congratulatory way. Husband and wife (I think) editors Marck and Heather have it down. Pictures of the original 90210 cast, run ironically alongside a list of contributors? Check. Instructions on how to make a sock monkey? You bet. A "Mad Libs" rip off? Sure enough! Those are the positive things I have to say, that I feel simultaneously nostalgic and optimistic when something like this lands in my box. Now for the not so positive things. Number one, did you notice I've made it this far into the review, and am only now telling you it's a music zine? I.e., I couldn't care less. Number two, Joe Queer (interviewed, with others) spouts some racist hooey every time the topic turns to rap music, and is never called on it. (Benefit of the doubt, the interview was likely conducted via mail, which inhibits back and forth exchange. But all the same, boo!) Number three, a column titled "Maybe It Is Time For A Punk Rock Revolution" is, in reality, a plug for the Green Party. (Yeah, take that, maaan!) It's tough to sit through. But, you know, that's all I have for gripes. Sink Hole is an overall fun ride, worth a quick look. Reviewed by Marc. [free, standard, 32 pages, copied]
Bacon Towne Records, PO Box 1063, Tallevast, FL 34270.

Skill Shot
Issues #'s 5 & 6. "Seattle's Pinball Zine." I've been in a state of mourning for what I see as the downfall of zines. Most zines I see are totally over-priced, have no concept other than "ME", and are over before they begin (Issue 1 of 1). What I have been craving is a zine that is an ode to something interesting (or new, rare, uncommon, passed up, long forgotten, weird, etc...), that's cheap or FREE, and accessible. I picked up "Skill Shot" from a newspaper box for "The Real Estate Book", which is some free rag that no renter on Capitol Hill gives a shit about. A nice little stack of these zines were housed in this relatively safe home. It's a zine that's all about PINBALL! It lists every pinball machine in Seattle, by neighborhood. It reports on pinball news (upcoming tournaments, new games, etc...). It's a zine that's not afraid to take pinball seriously, and everyone should admire it for that reason alone. Send for it right now! Revive your interest in zines! Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Free on the street, $1 for extra or back issues. 1/4 size, folded mini]
Chow Chow Productions, P.O.Box 20204, Seattle, WA 98102.

Soup: a day in the life
(#1; August 2008.) Future zine scholars will no doubt come up with all kinds of theories about why there should've been so many Portland cartoon diarists in our time; ours is but to enjoy the bounty. Brian Steinberg has early-beginner cartooning chops (he appears in more panels than not but I keep having to look twice so as not to see the line at the top of his beard as a disturbed-looking mouth running clear across his face). And I'm not all that into reading about food (or dancing about architecture). But this is harmless fun and I didn't have any trouble finishing it: one four-panel page (halflegal) a day for 31 days in 2007, mostly having something to do with food (more often bread than soup, though). Also a recipe and an ad for cafepress.com/soupzine. Try soupzine(at)yahoo.com for the price and address. Reviewed by Indy.

#8. Gawrsh. Another one I kind of liked. Our editor and his broad cast of contributors crack wise about their zinester-rite-of-passage cross-country sojourns. The obvious padding, inside jokes and punk-rock nerdery get tiresome, but there's enough solid advice and inspired prankishness to keep the ride entertaining. One guy drives from New York to Portland, OR. (If you're a zine geek in Portland, ME, it's time to represent.) One guy spots a legless skateboarder in Sandy Eggo. Another guy meets a German girl outside of Chicago. Your travel classic zine. It's dated Spring'97, so maybe it got reissued or something — I'd be amazed if the listed address still worked. That was ten fucking years ago. Marc, could you bike over there and ring the bell, just to check? Reviewed by Emerson. [$1 US, $1.50 CAN, $2 elsewhere. 42 pp., digest]
Eric Mast, 2409 SE 51st Ave. #2, Portland, OR 97206-1424.

Urinal Gum
#6. The obtuse, collegiate intro ( Politics is the way in which we deal with living with other people. It is the way of making rules to decide who is in the right when the freedoms of at least two entities clash ) didn't prepare me for the unfiltered know-nothing anger of the zine's balance. UG is a rage grenade that explodes with pink confetti. Sometimes the anger (the last-second Bush-bashing) seems petty, dumb and beside whatever point there might be. Sometimes (the crank letter to Hillary Clinton), the anger seems petty, dumb, and high-larious. The nicest thing I can say about UG is that it seems to know that it doesn't know what the fuck it's talking about. Reviewed by Emerson. [$2, 42 pp., mini]
PO Box 1243, Eugene, OR 97440.

Vol. I. I was excited about this comic, though it looked pretty cheesy. I'll read anything about vampires, or see any movie about vampires. In Feldman's story, the main character becomes a vampire from a hoard of mosquitoes, ok...Then his first kill was an old woman with a huge goiter (he bites her on the goiter!). Not much class for a vampire! There are the cliche's of the dark caves, the manuscript that explains vampirism...but then the story turns and the aged, flimsy manuscript actually contains a CD-ROM? The character's journey turns into a miasma of every dream ever dreamed. Totally random happenings, a journey with no destination, aliens appearing out of no where. What keeps you in the story is the interesting language and details, every noun is accompanied by two adjectives, it appears, and this strange "modern" tale sounds "old world". I don't really know if I "got" this zine, per se, if there was some message or warning under the surface, but it was fun to try to figure out, or at the very least, be surprised by all the turns it takes. Well-drawn, well formatted, certainly a zine for nerds and goths, and nerd-goths. Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Digest-sized mini, 45 pps. unknown price]
Steve Feldman, P.O. Box 948, La Grande, OR 97850.

White Male Neurosis
By James Williams. I picked this mini-comic up at Powell's in Portland. I was attracted to the glossy, stark black and whites, and the fact that the story goes ahead and starts right on the cover page! It begins, "When I was a kid I used to build a wall of cereal boxes around me when I ate cereal." This is a funny story, and really well-drawn in a bold, gory style. It's only 12 pages, but it's the kind of zine that you will look at more than once, and maybe show your friends. Reviewed by Kelly Froh. [Digest-sized mini, 12 pps., $3]

Marc Parker is the zine librarian for Portland's beloved Independent Publishing Resource Center. Which means that, if he reviews your publication here, there's a good chance it will be added to the IPRC's collection of more than 6,000. For what it's worth. Marc is currently working on a graphic novel, like everyone else.

Kelly Froh has made over 25 mini-comics and zines including, "Slither", "Unlucky with Pets", "The Cheapest S.O.B's" and "Stew Brew" (a collaboration with Max Clotfelter). She has a BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design and hasn't done much with it (she has failed, in fact, in even putting the thing in a proper frame.) Kelly's work appears in several anthologies including, "I'll Keee you!: An anthology of overheards" (available from Atomic Books) and "Not My Small Diary". She shares a website with some pals, visit it at: www.scubotch.com.

Indy Ana Jones reviewed zines for The Ten Page News (and Indy Unleashed) back around the turn of the century. Indy's enormous zines index was probably the most extensive such project ever available on-line. Hasn't been updated since early last year, though. Want more? Ask Vlorbik.

Emerson Dameron lives in Southern California. Contact him at edameron att gmail dott com.