Welcome to the world of zines I read in the past month. I read so many zines in only 1 month time, thanks to various amazing swaps and thanks to tableing Swansea Zine Fest in the UK. As usual I’m gonna have to keep these mini reviews/descriptions very mini because otherwise I would never be able to finish this and continue to read more zines…
There are lots of reading materials to discover that you might want to check out, about haunted houses, addiction, house-keeping, women in metal, autism, lolita subculture, and more. I tried to add websites, webshops, or distros wherever possible but if I didn’t add a link for a zine you’re interested in, you can contact me and maybe I can get you touch with the zinester.
Enjoy and then go read or make a zine!
Perzines (personal zines): One of the perzines I read in May is Sometimes Human #1 by Crash Reynolds. It’s filled with lots of thoughts and creative collages about anxiety and depression and has the cutest robot ever on the cover. Thought-provoking but read with care. At Swansea Zine Fest I found some more issues of some perzine series I’ve been following such as Here. In My Head #19 by one of the Swansea organisers. She talks about what 2018 was like, coping with depression, bucket lists, things that make her happy, bad experiences when getting tattooed (which I found very honest because everyone always seems to tell the nice stories or show the nice results), and the film Captain Marvel (which I can actually really recommend!). #19 may be the last issue of this zine series which makes me sad but I’m comforted to know that the author will keep on making (fan)zines. Another one from Swansea is Your Pretty Face With Go Straight to Hell by Tukru who runs Vampire Hag Distro (used to be called Vampire Sushi Distro). I read #25 which is about work/public transport/working from home and the name change of the distro, and #26 which is about travelling to Finland, meeting friends and family, doing karaoke, etc. I always enjoy reading travel zines and I also liked to see a riot grrrl friend mentioned who I interviewed for my out-of-print zine Flapper Gathering ages ago (I love nostalgic moments like that). Forever Incomplete #5 (a 24 hour zine) is also written by a Swansea organiser. It’s one of those zines that balances between the fanzine and the perzine genre, mixing life stories about getting tattoos and mental health with pieces about tv shows, fan obsessions, and fanfic. I could relate to some of the advantages of having fan obsessions and it made me miss having them. 🙂 WTF is ‘Self Care’ and How Do I Look after Myself also comes from the zine fest in Swansea. I bought it along with another zine of the same author after hearing their zine reading. I’m trying to collect self-care zines as they are always useful, including this one which has nice full-colour collages. Tempest in a Teacup #6 is an older zine (from 2013) and I think I remember seeing it at the London Queer Zine Fest around that time. I’m happy I finally got hold of a copy. This issue talks about the city Lincoln, travelling, the author’s cat, sexual harassment on the street, jobs, and more. I’m happy to have bought Thoughts of a Queer Marshmellow #2 from Glitza Glitza distro at Ladyfest Maastricht. It’s a very thick pocket-sized type-written zine that advocates softness and takes a look at harmful relationships, illness and being unable to do paid work, and travelling to Iceland. I look forward to reading the other issue I bought. Also from Glitza Glitza, Let’s Talk about Sex Negavtivity is a welcome exploration of ideas concerning sexuality and sex positivity. I first heard of the term sex negativity a few years ago on a blog called Radical Trans Feminism that criticised some dogmas and norms existing in queer-feminist communities. This zine looks at some of the same issues from another more personal perspective but they are equally valid and necessary to be heard. The format and visual style of Letomagic #3 was the first thing that struck me. It’s a cute little hand-bound square-shaped zine that looks absolutely fabulous, with little photographs of mini-foutball players on bottlecaps stuck to the pages. Content-wise it mentions anarchist spaces, zine libraries, beers, and sports clubs. Bloom Weird #1 by Meeni Levi is a brandnew perzine that collects interesting pieces about body hair, playing in a band, doing tarot, money/being rich, and more. I also like that the zine introduces the author with a look inside Meeni’s bag (why didn’t I think of that?). Trans Rewind talks about AJ Smith’s detransition and non-binary identity. It also discusses survival, childhood, homelessness, and struggles with drug addiction as does their other zine It started with an addiction #1 which collects journal entries. Both zines are very honest, open and raw. They come with a trigger warning so take care when reading.
Fanzines: We’ve got a few music zines too, one about female(fronted) bands listing the years they were/are active along with some lyrics called KLOPS #1 and 2 (I already knew most of the bands in #1 but was happy to discover more in #2 – nice concept for a zine I think!) and one about women, trans people, queers, and people of colour in metal called Sycamore #1 which I enjoyed reading a lot, especially the interviews and articles about the benefits of playing/liking metal for trans women. I can’t wait for #2 and feel like this zine is filling a void that I didn’t know existed yet. Very nice fitting design/layout too. Both zines are from Germany and are available from the Zineklatsch distro.
Political zines: Refugees by Artes is a beautiful colourful folded zine demanding safe entry and respect for refugees and pointing to the risks they have to take and dangers they are exposed to. Tiny Acts of Rebellion should be in every worker’s pocket. It can be used as inspiration for taking back employment-exploitation or just for a little giggle to help relieve some work-related stress. Femme Notes: a zine about feminism, self expression and diversity has the most original zine-shape I’ve seen so far. When you open the pages they turn into a heart. The zine is a passionate response to sexism, starting from personal experiences, and a call out for support and rebellion. Beautiful in style and content.
Mini-zines: I read A LOT of mini-zines lately so I decided to group them all together here and show how diverse their subjects and approaches can be. Let’s start with Dreaming of the Devil #1 and #2 that I swapped at Leeds Zine Fest. They are wild and mysterious white-on-black drawn little publications. More witchiness in The Shameless Witch Club #1 and 2 that advocates a witchy sisterhood. Made by the same zinester are My Loli Zine #1 and 2. I know nothing about the lolita subculture and fashion but it was interesting to see and read these pretty mini-zines to learn more, especially about the author’s views of openness and kindness. The same author also made Alone in a Crowd, about feeling alone, miscommunication, and prejudice. A lot of valuable ideas in one tiny zine. Moon Magic is a little zine filled by witchy spells made by one of the editors of ESCzine who is fond of magical stuff (The moon is one of my favourite magical symbols, so yay). Lavender Blues is filled with beautiful mini poems. I’m not a big poetry expert or fan but I enjoyed these because they are very clear, short and relatable. I wish I had read Bucket List for Swansea (each page recommends another location/area) before my visit as it has some nice tips but I guess that means I’ll have to go back some day. 🙂 The Little Book of Big Caulk is full of cartoons. If you’re a fan of bees, get a copy of The Pros & Cons of Using Bees as Currency as it’s hilarious. A Tiny Zine About Stationary is not the usual folded mini-zine so it has a few more pages listing the zinester’s favourite items of stationary. I had to buy it because I love all things stamps/notebooks/pens/etc. The Week 3 People Asked Me If I was Pregnant talks about the situations in the title, the author’s responses, and the questions the author has for those people. This zine is an excellent way to reclaim these situations of intrusive harassment. And finally I read a few mini-zines about self-care: I’m not telling you how to live your life (by Meeni Levi, list of things that make zir happy), Stars Where My Soul Should Be (with statements that boost the authors confidence and self-image), I Forgot to Love Myself (about how hard it can be to love yourself and that it’s ok to trust others to help you see through darkness), Self Care is Resistance (good self-care introduction), and Spoonie (about chronic illness, the spoon theory, and how to be a good friend to a spoonie).
How-to zines / educational zines: Thanks for your concern but this is just my face by one of the Swansea Zine Fest organisers is a very informative zine about living with non-verbal tourettes, about the diagnoses, tics, the difficulties, and how people have responded, and by the same author, Autism Room 101 is based on conversations with people on the autism spectrum about things they’d like to get rid of (from loud noises to landlords – couldn’t agree more 🙂 ). It’s serious but often also very funny and can help to educate some people about making spaces more autism-friendly. I also read two zines about house-keeping, both a bit different in approach from each other. Living the No Maintenance Lifestyle: a Guide gives advice on how to minimise any effort and free time related to tidying your wardrobe and having breakfast, recommends staying at home to socialise, and gives tips for making the most of your job, while Radical Domesticity #6 actually recommends investing just a little more effort/time into dressing well for work but still makes it accessible to punks on tiny budgets. It also gives tips on renting apartments/rooms, cooking, and some crafty tutorials. I recommend reading both and finding your own balance and advice that fits you best. Pro Tips is a huge collection of tips (40 in total!) – not all invented by the author – that vary a lot on topic and perspective. There will be a lot that you can get from it, even if I don’t agree with everything myself.
Comic zines and illustrated stories: Haunted Plymouth tells very short illustrated stories taking place at various locations in Plymouth. Beautifully made and drawn but maybe I would have like the stories to be just a bit longer, I’m just curious to know more about these ghosts. 🙂 I’m also curious to visit Plymouth now. Ten Months is a beautiful (both visually and story-wise) diary-style comic about a trans man starting his transition and waiting for the testosterone to kick in. Just Butch Eye Yourself was made in response to Queer Eye for a Straight Guy but this zine is so much more than a response to that show and is about 5 superhero-like characters who actually really improve someone’s life (not just force a certain conformist dress style on them). It’s super feminist and queer and funny and lovely and you really need to get a copy and listen to what the Fierce 5 have to say. Life life life is a exploration of colour, life, and destruction by Artes. I hesitate if I should put it in my zine collection or hang up on my wall. Blood Magic is a fantasy comic about witchcraft, traditions, and saving the world, drawn in black-white with added red for the blood magic. I would love to see a sequel to explore the world in the comic more.
Other: Bad Advice is the newest issue of ESCzine and as the title suggests, collects the bad advice that the contributors got, in a variety of styles from collages and photography to poetry and essays. The title made me very curious and the stories and artwork really live up my expectations and beyond. Dressed for Distaster tells childhood stories connected to outfits. As the subtitle says, these are “fashion moment you won’t find on my instagram”. The zinester has an awesome drawing style and I can’t wait to start reading the main zine Sew Irregular. The Cute Dossier is assembled more like a folder of pages than a bound zine but is still totally in zine spirit, questioning norms about cuteness, childishness, adulthood, femininity, and age, and encouraging discussions about these topics. From the same author as My Loli Zine, The Shameless Witch Club, and Femme Notes.