Archive for the ‘zines’ Category

Disco 2010

April 24, 2010

Speaking of longing for something you never participated in, and in keeping with my recent outburst of nostalgia, I’ve been bemoaning (to myself) my misspent youth lately. Not misspent in the sense that I grew up in a seminary, or, conversely, that I was a wild tear away who wagged school and lurked about in the lantana infested bush of Girraween Park  with boys, bongs and suspicious intentions. I mean misspent in the sense that I was a little punk rock wannabe – a Sheena, if you like – when clearly, clearly, I should have been in love with Jarvis Cocker, nylon dresses and shiny, shiny hair. I was, but only secretly, because to be in love with indie pop would have been a betrayal of my loyalty to Crass. Well, that’s how it seemed at the time anyway. I know now that I was very, very wrong, and that the two camps are not mutually exclusive; but too late. I only admitted my love of Pulp to myself at the end of 2004 – 2004! – when we were cleaning out the house at Silver St. Anwyn was squeaking the lounge room windows clean with vinegar and crumpled pages from the SMH. She had Different Class in the CD player and I was momentarily distracted from picking minute particles of Blu-Tack out of the holes in my bedroom wall by the strains of ‘Disco 2000’. That song! I remembered a female announcer (Helen Razor or Judith Lucy, perhaps) introducing it on Triple J one afternoon in the mid 90s when I was trying to keep up with the world. The inevitable joke about Jarvis sharing initials with our Lord (surely it could not be a coincidence etc). The disco sounds that I could not, would not, surrender to. I was in the bath at the time, testing the claims of those self help books that tell you if you treat yourself kindly all your problems will dissolve. In the bath, with Pulp. With Jarvis. Things could have panned out so differently. The 1990s! All the things that I missed because I was stuck in a narrow sliver of the 1980s, feeling the same way about them as I do now about the 90s! But that’s me, forever chasing the ball as it ricochets down some unexpected alleyway in time.  That is to say, never fucking on it.

So, as you’ve probably noticed by now, the formula for these posts is stuff stuff stuff zine. The zine, or zines, this time are ones that you will shortly find on the Take Care site, but I will include the contact details of their authors, in case you need (and it may well be a matter of need) to get your hands on them sooner rather than later.

More Love, Truth and Honesty

I’ve heard so much about Love, Truth and Honesty, Paul’s zine about Bananarama (I don’t know why, but Spellcheck is refusing to recognise that Bananarama is a word). It’s one of those zines that has entered into the oral history of Australian zinedom as a work of greatness. I have never read it (not surprising, I tend to live a secluded life), so I was very excited to receive a copy of this, the follow up. Finally, I understand what the excitement was all about. ‘This zine’, writes Paul, ‘is to confront…such memories and ideas and threads that age me, scare me, stifle me. To finish what I started. The unfinishable. Problematising the separation of ‘then’ and ‘now’’.  Bananarama, Pulp, Suede, Elastica, Michelle Pfeiffer, Belinda Carlisle…Paul’s 80s/90s pop fandom examined with an eye on feminism and queer theory.

Sing Me To Sleep: An annotated bibliography of sad boy songs

Paul also gave us a copy of this zine. Tim and I read it together in bed on Thursday morning when neither of us had to work, while listening to the mix CD that accompanies it. It felt more like Sunday than Thursday. The zine is exactly what it says – a list of sad songs by sad boys (and men), written over two days when Paul himself was feeling a bit sad. I once read a study that suggested when you’re feeling down, listening to music that matches your mood is a more effective anti-depressant than listening to something sunny and bright. If you’re feeling down, the company of something excessively optimistic can be jarring, discounting the authenticity or righteousness of your sadness. Or something. Which is why the Smiths are the happiest band in the word. Only people who are normally happy don’t understand this. Mind you, if a friend calls up and tells you they’re feeling depressed, you probably shouldn’t recommend they listen to Swans’ Greed. That’s from somewhere else entirely. If all music suddenly came under the control of the American radical DIY self help community, Greed would be reissued with a long warning about how ‘triggering’ it is and that you should ‘make sure you’re somewhere safe’ before you listen to it.

Anyway. Paul begins this zine by writing about sticking a picture of David McComb on his wardrobe. A sure sign of melancholy; they should put that in the surveys they use  to determine if you’re depressed: ‘do you cry for no reason, do you ever think about not existing, do you have a picture of David McComb stuck to your wardbrobe…’.

Coincidentally, the day before we received this zine I had been trawling the internet for information about Swell Maps. I had read that both Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden are dead. I thought that it must be a hoax – like they had sabotaged their own Wikipedia pages. How can two brothers, who were in the same band, born in the late 50s, about the same age as my mum, both be dead? But it’s true. Epic died – suicide, drug over dose, something – when he was only in his thirties, and Nikki passed away sometime in the last decade, of probably the same causes. Epic’s later solo stuff sounds uncannily like David McComb, or some other forcibly deep voiced Australian. But I have the Triffids if I want David McComb, so I can’t listen to Epic’s solo stuff, or Nikki’s. But Swell Maps are amazing. And now I can’t listen to Swell Maps without feeling terribly sad at the sound of those young, young boys, both gone.

Paul doesn’t write about Swell Maps, of course, but he writes about songs by the Smiths, and the Triffids, Billy MacKenzie, Antony and the Johnsons, Boy George, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed. So many sad boys. And he dedicates it, in part, to all the girls. Such an excellent zine. And did I mention the bonus mix CD?

Contact Paul at paulibyron (at) gmail (dot) com

Containing Preserving Consuming

Jessie is a part of the Rizzeria collective, and she’s obviously spent a lot of time with the mighty risograph machine. A risograph, for your information, is a sort of cross between a photocopier and a screen printing machine; it’s one of those things that when it was invented, you suspect, must have seemed incredibly futuristic, like a portable record player or floppy discs, but now seem like analogue solutions to digital problems. It’s quite marvellous. As with screen printing, you lay on each colour separately through a different stencil. Preserving… uses multiple colours for the images, overlaid with black text. Jessie is in the middle of a PhD which looks at anomalous archives, if I can call them that – bedrooms, infoshops and so on that become collections of memories (apologies if I’ve got that wrong, Jessie).  The zine begins with Jessie buying a bag of cumquats, which must be preserved before they go to waste. The process of preserving the cumquats becomes a metaphor for the archive project, and Jessie’s writing threads back and forth between thoughts from the kitchen and thoughts from the academy (check out her PhD blog, and her cooking one). There have been many awesome zines written by people in the midst of writing or making bigger things – whether academic projects or ones created outside of institutions. This zine’s an excellent example of how approaching something from an oblique angle can sometimes be a great way of sneaking up on those elusive, apparently bigger, ideas.

Jessie (at) foodmaidens (dot) net

Mind Dump

Mary-Helen makes excellent funny, silly, melancholy comics. This is my favourite yet – photocopies of a piece she made recently which you can read about here. It’s the least comic strip like of the stuff I’ve seen; more like a collage of various ideas that could be detached from the ‘mind dump’ and turned into longer narratives, maybe, but that nonetheless make wonderful sense when hurled together like this. There are the shoppers in the Courage Mart, where you can buy 2 in 1 anti-shy shampoo (today’s special!). The entrance of this most excellent supermarket (I think we should petition the Marrickville Metro to build one) is surrounded by jelly fish, stuck in some kind of existential gloom where ‘sometimes things have no answers’, and ‘we never stop’. Then there are the residents who break out of the painkiller capsule hotel, and the imminent revolution of all the food in the refrigerator.  This zine made me want to hop a space shuttle to the bubble galaxy diner for a nice serve of Saturn rings, indeed. Conveniently, I’m in the process of making one (a space capsule, that is), but I’ll save that for a later post.

tinypapermail (at) gmail (dot) com

Zine stuff. Again.

April 13, 2010

Here is an cool response to my earlier post about zines. Thanks to the person who wrote it. I don’t have much time to respond at the mo’, except to say that I agree on the points about punk and exclusivity. And about graphic design/glossy covers: it’s not so much that the zines I was critical of are glossy or contained a ‘professional ‘ standard of graphic design – I have nothing against things being well done. Indeed, I am actively annoyed by the slapdash and poorly conceived. Annoyed, I say. (Well, maybe not that annoyed). And I agree that as certain technologies get cheaper and easier to use there may be a shift away from ye olde photocopier. I have often wondered what all the Sydney zinesters would do, for instance, if Officeworks removed their copiers. (Scam! I hear you, but, augh, could I really be bothered anymore…probably not).  It’s that these zines contain a high proportion of advertising (again, you know, I’ve nothing against a bit of advertising here and there, by high proportion I mean at least half of the content), content based on (or the same as) stuff pulled off blogs, or ‘reviews’ that consist solely of a photo or quick blurb and a URL for some other project online. I think that I’m pretty open-minded about the types of things you could (and that people do) call zines, but increasingly, when I see zines that contain the things I just described, I kinda wonder. Is it a zine, or a business directory? They have more in common with those pamphlets/catalogues you find outside General Pants. (I read recently, actually, that Levi’s has started to release what they’re calling a ‘zine’). I mean, if I was happy to just toddle along in my little bubble world subbaculture I probably could just step sideways from these kinds of things. But I’m not a punk, or primitivist, or any other person who wants to live apart from the world, so I have to try to, er, ‘reconcile’ myself to it. The problem is that the world keeps refusing to meet me half way. Bastard world.

Anyway, I promise I won’t rock the zine boat anymore. For a bit. Here is a very funny and helpful guide to surviving a zine fest (by a person who writes for Woofah, a perfect example of how it is indeed possible to marry shiny production with very worthwhile content).

Not the MCA zine fair

April 9, 2010

Yep, it’s totally nuts that the MCA zine fair booked out so quickly. Already there are moves to have an alternative of some sort, either on the day before or simultaneously, for those who missed out (including myself, and Take Care, and about a hundred other people, I assume.)

BUT there is another zine fair coming up soon! Or a zine tent, rather. At the Burbs Festival in Blacktown, which is happening as part of this year’s Youth Week. Now, I know very little about this other than the fact that Tim and I will be doing a Take Care table out there. But as you’ll no doubt agree, THAT ALONE is enough incentive to come along!

17th April, from 1pm

Blacktown Showground (Richmond Rd, Blacktown)


So if you’re a local or live nearby, or are prepared to make the trek out west (or east, if you live further west than Blacktown, or course. Of course, for something to have worth it doesn’t necessarily have to be happening within a 5km radius of my flat in Enmore…) it would be well worth your effort to come and check out some zines. We’ve got some excellent stuff in stock at the moment, with more on the way.

Still ill

March 23, 2010

That should read ‘ill again’, but then it wouldn’t be a pretentious song reference.

Being ill seems to be a specialty of mine. Here are two zines we picked up at the Blacktown Zine Fair that I found particularly fetching.

First, further evidence that I’m slooow, because this has been around for a while now:

A collaboration between Vanessa Berry and Leigh ‘the risograph whisperer’ Rigozzi. Leigh transcribes and illustrates a letter from Vanessa. It’s fantastic. I showed a friend the other day and he said, ‘that actually looks like Vanessa Berry’. Indeed! But the discerning reader will get infinitely more out of it than the satisfaction of seeing a good likeness of VB. Obtain a copy from Leigh at the next (inevitable) zine fair, or online from Bird in the Hand zine shop.

Amber Carvan very kindly traded this for a copy of Walk so Differently. She also got excited when she saw the John Porcellino comic on our table. I’ve read Amber’s great comics before but, being thick, only registered the Porcellino influence when she pointed it out. Now it seems so glaringly obvious that it, well, glares at me. This collection is great. I understand that there is some theory behind the type of 4 panel comic Amber draws. I don’t understand it entirely, but for me they are something akin to a haiku (cuz, y’know, I know all about them…) – that is to say, extremely restricted, minimal; a tiny space for tiny, pure expressions. Highly recommended.

Amber also tried to get me to pimp her (literally!) by means of a small comic that I was meant to hand out to likely looking fellows…I’m sorry to say that I was too shy to do this. But Amber, I’ll pass them on if Take Care gets any orders from John Porcellino fans with attractive email addresses.

Blacktown zine fair report

March 14, 2010

Take Care went to the Coded zine fair at Blacktown Art Centre yesterday, and it was great. Reminded me that I should spend less time whingeing and get out more. My mid March resolution.

The fair was very small, predictably, as everyone is down in Adelaide for Format. But it went well regardless: we sold heaps of zines, bought a bunch ourselves and got a stack of new stuff for the distro. And due to the relaxed pace we were actually able to converse with people! It was all very novel and enjoyable. So thanks to the organisers and everyone who came and checked out our table and said hello.

We liked Blacktown so much that we’re going to be out there for another zine fair that’s happening as part of Youth Week in April. I’ll be back soon with more details about that, and some of the cool zines we picked up.

Just step s’ways?

March 7, 2010

I was reluctant to post this, thinking that it might make me look like a giant stick in the mud (a tree in the mud?). Then I remembered that I probably already am one, so it doesn’t really matter. The day after I wrote this I had a discussion with my friend Anwyn about similar concerns, and I think that sort of convinced me that it is worth throwing this down to see what, if anything, comes of it. First off, here’s a list of the things that inspired all these thoughts:

1. A comment on this blog from a person who asked if I’d be able to suggest writers for a new online magazine, which they described as ‘the love child of Frankie and Vice’. My reaction to this was, ‘how have I given this person the impression that I would be at all interested (and not completely appalled) by Vice and Frankie magazines? Are my politics so invisible, so lacking? Or is this person completely oblivious?’

2. A bit of discussion on Ciara Xyerra’s blog regarding changes in the zine world in general, sparked in part by the increasing propensity for folks to send PDFs for distro consideration. I have noticed this since we started the distro. The only thing that really bothers me about it is that we have to send an email requesting a hard copy, and thus waste time that we wouldn’t have had to, had the person actually read our submission guidelines. While this is irksome it’s not a serious indication of the impending end of all things good. What’s more worrying, for me, is this:

3) The enormous number of highly polished, professionally printed, full colour magazines (many with ISSNs or ISBNs) that are sent to Take Care for distro consideration. I’m not even sure how to describe these; they’re so outside my experience and the small pockets of the world that I try to inhabit. I suppose they’re like compilations of graphic designer’s CVs, with advertorial content and the added fetishism of being ‘limited edition’. This leads me to:

4)Further discussion on Ciara’s blog about the number of newbies in the zine scene who make zines with an apparently wilful disregard for what a zine actually is, or to their history. And finally:

5) The zine making day at Mag Nation in Sydney.

I will now wade into the murky waters of my own befuddlement to deliver what is probably not an incisive critique, but hopefully still a useful contribution to a discussion of these things, were that to happen.

Okee Dokee! First, as I just used the phrase ‘complete disregard for what a zine actually is’, I should clarify my position on this, and give a little context. It’s difficult, because zines can be many things to as many people who make them, and have almost as many historical antecedents. To name but a few: Sci Fi fanzines, artist books, punk and riot grrrl zines, political pamphlets, underground comics, chapbooks and on and on. So when I say ‘zine’ I’m really talking about the specific type of zine that I make, read and, lately, distribute through Take Care. I think most people, to some extent, will agree with what this is and how it evolved. What I call a zine – the photocopied, cut ‘n’ pasted thing with typed and handwritten stories that are generally about everyday life – is a direct descendant of 90s riot grrrl and, before that, hardcore/diy punk zines which originated in the States, and perhaps the zines of 70s UK punk. The sort of distro that I run is also a throwback to the various models of distribution that were undertaken by diy/indie record labels of the punk and post punk eras, and by those who adopted their ethos; and later distros like Pander in the States. So we see (if you squint a little) there’s a sort of holy triangle between zines, music and a hazy concept I’ve just called ‘diy’ which is a sort of code word that is meant to encompass some degree of radical, possibly anti-capitalist, critique, but is just as often a way to avoid such a critique. I suspect that my generation is perhaps the last (born late 70s, early 80s, give or take) for whom these three things, when we discovered them, were inextricably bound up. The idea was that we could build a culture that could somehow circumvent the logic of capitalist modes of production, distribution and exchange, in favour of something more human, that we had more control over, with the aim of building communities that would prove that we’re capable of organising our lives without a state or government. I suspect that encountering these sub-cultural forms together is not something that happens so much anymore, if at all.

One of the things I hear thrown around about this nebulous idea of diy and of zines is that they’re inherently political. Like I said, I think ‘diy’ is something that a lot of people hide behind as a substitute for having clear politics. ‘It’s diy man!’ can be pulled out to demonstrate the allegedly latent politics of anything from making zines to knitting tea cosies to selling cupcakes. I’ve always thought this was an immensely lazy oversimplification, but it’s only recently, dunderhead that I am, that I’ve realised what the consequences of this oversimplification might be. The argument that people site when they make this claim about zines, and I think this is true, and sort of crucial, is that zines’ potential for politics lies not only in their contents but in the manner (or ‘spirit’, if that word doesn’t seem too trite) in which they are made and exchanged. So a zine is political, supposedly, because when you ‘do it yourself’ you form a space outside capitalist modes of production, which is inherently subversive. As Anna Poletti rightly points out in her thesis-cum-book Intimate Ephemera, at best, zines (can) exist somewhere in the gift economy, where they’re not quite at ease in the world of commodified ‘things’. But that’s only potential. It’s not inherent, or intrinsic, or guaranteed, in any way. That little patch in the gift economy is an anomaly, and as such I think it has to be continually fought for if we’re to make any claims for the politics of zines, or ‘diy’ as a broader concept. That’s to say nothing about the extent to which capital is capable of, and has, and will continue to, encroach on those areas that we consider to be ‘ours’ and outside its logic. This may be an oversimplification itself, but I think it’s good to remember that we are within the culture and logic of capitalism to such an extent that to suggest that there is any way of completely escaping it would be naive. But I don’t think that means we should throw up our hands and embrace its logic as wholeheartedly as we desire to reject it, conceding that resistance is futile. This is where the beauty of zines can lie. They allow us to build our own ephemeral spaces (or ‘annexes’ as Anna P describes them) in which we may be able  to write, think and learn in ways that are, as Ciara mentions, dialectical. But again, that’s entirely predicated on context, on how and why we make zines, and, I repeat, not in any way intrinsic to their form.

A little while ago I was with some friends in Melbourne who were talking about how strange it is that Banksy’s graffiti is so collectable among Hollywood millionaires. My ever wise friend Anwyn responded that it’s actually not strange at all: when your work has no politics it can be appropriated by anyone. Graffiti is a useful analogy when thinking about zines. For years I’ve been annoyed by righteous claims of graffiti somehow being the most cutting edge, political art. But, like zines, it only has potential, which is entirely dependent not only on its content but its context. And here, as with zines, I am not just talking about a literal, sloganeering politics, but rather the form an artwork (for want of a better word) takes, the mood it captures, the thoughts it inspires, and, most importantly, its historical context. So when graffiti is relegated to certain, prescribed areas (like Sydney’s May Lane), or when it is shown in galleries (as with Banksy), it’s much harder to argue that it retains an inherent politics. It might still be good art, it might be challenging and inspiring and so on. But more often than not it becomes purely decorative, all about surface, and far more boring, I think, than any ‘conventional’ art that appears in a gallery, because it often doesn’t even pretend to deal with ideas. It becomes, to use the prevailing catchphrase of people who are apparently bereft of principles and are involved in making the kinds of art that I’m talking about, reduced to the purely ‘creative’.

The idea of ‘the creative’ is a symptom of a wider cultural malaise related to late capitalism, where every inch of our lives is colonised and measured in terms of productivity. There are many people who have far more learned and articulate things to say about this than I, but I guess you could sum it up as the tendency for ‘work’ to subsume our whole identity, where in every moment of our lives we are meant to be promoting ourselves in terms of what we have to offer, or have ‘achieved’. Networking replaces friendship, so ‘friends’ become ‘contacts’ and vice versa. Self marketing and promotion increasingly becomes a substitute for what was once ‘leisure time’. This is related to the general phenomena in late (or globalised, post-Fordist, whatever you want to call it) capitalism of ‘precarity’, a neologism that describes the increasingly precarious nature of work: the casualisation of labour, the disappearance of the concept of a ‘job for life’, the expectation that we’re all meant to be ‘flexible’ and ready to hop to it at every moment of our lives, for work that offers no security, satisfaction or even reasonable remuneration. In other words, it’s the absorption of everything we do into the logic of capitalist productivity: our art, our friendships, our ideas, our private thoughts and desires; our inner lives, the places that are supposed to be untouchable.

So, what has all this got to do with zines? You have to return to what I suggested earlier about the generation who were born after people my age (and it’s a weird thing to realise that the people who are younger than you are actually a separate generation). They were born and brought up in a world in which capitalism is more consolidated than ever, and in which that particularly nasty and virulent strain of capitalism – neo-liberalism – was at its nadir. They didn’t have the spaces that I and my contemporaries had in which to encounter radically oriented sub-cultures. And it shows. Now, this is not anyone’s fault (except in the sense that it’s sort of everyone’s fault). Like I mentioned, all these thoughts were sparked to some extent by Take Care receiving an increasing number of really, and I’m sorry to be mean, but really naff ‘zines’ that had obviously been made by graphic designers to bolster their career portfolios, and sent to us without any regard whatsoever to the other zines that we stock, or our stated interests. Now, maybe that’s our fault for not being clear enough about our aims for the distro, in the same manner that it’s due to my own flaky, non-committal principles that led to someone approaching me about starting a Vice/Frankie style magazine. I acknowledge that’s a part of it. But it’s too great a phenomenon for that to explain it all.

And this brings me to what could probably be interpreted as a controversial point, and which I’m pretty loath to write. Today (I write this on the 6th of March) there’s going to be a zine making day at the recently opened Mag Nation on King St in Newtown. Mag Nation is a chain magazine store that has 6 shops along the east coast of Australia and in New Zealand. While I admire the enormous amount of work that the organisers of this event have done in pushing the Sydney (and Newcastle) zine scenes and introducing zines to a great number of people, for me, having a zine making day in a commercial magazine shop is like having a coffee appreciation day at Starbucks. Or a zine making day at Starbucks, for that matter.

But as I’ve said, when I first got into zines there were many shops in Sydney that sold them on consignment. They were the sorts of places – record stores, mostly – that simply don’t exist in Sydney anymore. Gentrification, the advent of chain stores and changes in the way music is distributed, among many other things, has completely changed the world that I first encountered zines in. So, since that’s the case, and there’s no public space that has not been colonised by capital, no where left for us to meet and chance upon sub-cultural forms, should we use spaces like Mag Nation if the opportunity arises? My gut reaction says no. And when I think about it, I still think the answer’s no. Hopefully I’ve made my reasons for thinking this clear in what I’ve just written. I’m not entirely sure what the solution is.

To be honest, despite the length of this post, I’m not actually riled up about this at all, I’m just curious about what it means for the zine scene as I know it. Maybe I’m just making a big deal over nothing. There have always been a multitude of different ways of making and thinking about zines, and all this might just be the result of my happening across a part of the zine cosmos that I’m not too fond of. Also, debates about ‘upstarts’ and newbies in the zine scene have been around for as long as zines themselves. A few years ago some folks made a comp zine that they distributed in McDonalds stores in Melbourne with the very aim of reaching people who might not otherwise encounter zines (a page from one of my old zines was included in one issue), and that never bothered me (though, thinking about it now, it seems patronising. Was the assumption that people who eat at McDonalds aren’t cool enough to know what a zine is?). Any number of galleries host zine events, which I happily participate in. Kinokuniya, another commercial chain store that I would never associate with zines, was having zine fairs a few years ago, which failed to rip a hole in the cosmos, or even really garner my interest. Shortly after my first encounter with zines the infamous The New Pollution came out, followed by a flurry of complaints that it had led to the creation of a whole lot of crap zines and generally signalled the coming day of judgement. But how many of those makers of crap zines went on to make good zines? Don’t people need a place to get started, practice, get better, do their own thing, not give a toss about what people think? Certainly. I’m not the boss, I don’t want to be. But I don’t know if this new trend in zines fits in to this ‘natural’ pattern of new generations discovering the medium, or if it is indeed an indication of how depoliticised and immersed in the logic of capitalism those new generations are.

Finally, you might be thinking, why do zines, or paintings, or knitting or cupcakes or any of the things I love that make it easier for me to live in this world have to express my, or anyone’s, political convictions? Why can’t I just enjoy these things without you coming on all heavy? What next, the Marxist critique of sunshine? Of kittens? Of cute little fluffy ducks? Stop enjoying organic peppermint tea because the world’s about to end? No, that’s not what I’m saying. I like crafts, silly zines, nonsense stories, comics about cats, cute animals, songs about riding colourful bicycles and highly decorated cupcakes as much as the next person. And I would be as bereft as the next person if those things didn’t exist, or weren’t a part of the zine scene. All I’m saying is there has to be some balance. Cupcakes are great, but you can’t live on them. You need roughage, or you’d never have evolved to the point where you could invent cupcakes (I am not suggesting that you, reader, invented cupcakes). Likewise, you need mental roughage. You need to be able to think and talk about hard, chewy, tasty questions, even if you don’t really know the answers, and I’m just worried that the space where that can happen is getting smaller and smaller. Perhaps what I’m talking about here doesn’t necessarily have to be called politics. Maybe it’s convictions, principles. In my experience the people who’ve held onto their principles with the most determination are the ones who end up ‘achieving’ the most anyway, not the people who spend every second of their lives ‘networking’ to get their names noticed. As one of my favourite mad singers once noted, you can just step s’ways from that grubby place…Yeah! So shut up, Emma!

As you probably guessed from the last paragraph, I’m getting hungry. Just shy of 3000 words! Holy sandwiches! Ok, I’m going now.

As promised

February 18, 2010

I’m sick and good for nothing. Here are those zines I mentioned. They were all purchased from Vampire Sushi, a small but quality UK-based zine distro that I highly recommend. It’s not often I get to read zines from the UK. I got:

not one,

not two,

but two and a half issues of Tukru’s excellent personal zine, Your Pretty Face is Going Straight to Hell. She continuously apologises for being ‘mopey’, but hell, what are zines good for if not indulging a bit of mopeyness? Anyway, while Tukru’s zine are very personal, in an unedited diary type of way, they’re never overwrought or melodramatic. The angst is all positioned in the everyday things – work, family, ‘relationships’ – that tend to grind at us in similar ways. Which is why they’re so good, even when the things she describes are private and heartbreaking. It occurs to me that finding relief in other people’s misery is pretty shit, really, but like I say, I’m sick and can’t make it sound un-shit at the moment.

Also, Tukru hand colours her covers, which is excellent.

Fanzine Ynfyntyn consists for the most part of a fairly long and amusing story about ‘Mr C’, one of the author’s school English teachers. I have to admit that I felt a bit sorry for Mr C, as bonkers as he clearly was.

A Music Paper contains little comics that lampoon ‘indie’ music lovers, from the experience of being an ‘indie’ music lover. On the whole, I thought that this comic spoke much truth about the pretentiousness that sometimes accompanies an overzealous attachment and commitment to discovering and uncovering new music. Though the division between the ‘music loving’ men and the ‘radio listening’ women annoyed me a little. It’s probably just part of the joke stereotyping, but some jokes wear thin (I say, flipping the fifth record in a row to side B, checking that I’m still a woman. When people who don’t know us very well come to mine and my boyfriend’s house, they generally assume that all the records belong to him. Is it just competitiveness, petulance,  that makes me want to correct them? I think not).

Rum Lad is written and drawn by Steve Larder, and an excellent draw-er he is. I mean, he’s one of those people who can actually draw a picture of someone and make it look like a picture of them, not just some random, generic person. I think that Vampire Sushi described this as a ‘graphic zine’, in the sense of a graphic novel, which is a good way to put it. If you can imagine the layout of, say, a Harvey Pekar comic – not necessarily panels, just a mix of text and drawings – that’s Rum Lad. It contains an interview with Marv of Gadgie, a zine from Steve’s hometown in Lincolnshire, an account of the Mulheim zine fair, and a particularly great, short day-in-the-life type comic to finish. This zine’s so well done, and has already accompanied me on numerous train/bus trips (note dog-eared cover).

Ok. That’s enough advertising for zines you can get from Vampire Sushi. What about that notable Sydney based zine distro, Take Care? Well, I just uploaded a bunch of new stuff to the site. I haven’t done all of the descriptions yet, but they’re all worth checking out. Here are a few of my recent favourites.

Culture Slut‘s made by Amber in Montreal, and this full colour issue has just been added to the Take Care site. I’m not normally much of a fan of colour photocopying. It tends to highlight imperfections – like bad fitting room lighting – rather than obliterate them in the pleasing, graphic manner of a black and white copy. But this really works. It reminds me a little of probably the only thing I can stand about Sonic Youth these days – their album artwork (Amber mentions being a fan of SY in another of her zines, if you’re wondering where the hell that reference came from). Culture Slut #18 is a collection of polaroids, which of course have that special hazy, candy cane glow, like the cover of Sister or Daydream Nation. Yes, daydream: that’s the right word to describe this zine. It’s like participating in someone elses day-dream, colourful but wistful, and as if it happened another world away.

Actually, this has been on the site for a while, but it’s still very much worth mentioning. The latest issue of Doris is the final in the famed ‘encyclopeadia’ series of the zine, where Cindy would dedicate each issue to a few letters of the alphabet. As she says in this issue, she would mostly just write whatever she wanted and then make up an letter-appropriate heading later. So like I say, this is the final – uvwxyz – issue in the encyclopeadia, and I’m curious to see where Cindy will head next with her writing. Cindy also runs a distro – called riot grrr – which I will order from as soon as I have some money to spare, because it looks like she has some awesome stuff.

Perhaps it’s only because it features the down pipe on the factory next door to the one that, until very recently, my dad lived in, and because it’s made by Tim, whose photos get progressively better with each roll he takes, but I love this zine.

When Ivana first stocked her zines at Black Rose Lou very excitedly told everyone about this new awesome zine maker in town. Feels Like Friday is still awesome, and we’re very pleased to have the latest two issues for Take Care. Issue 12 is about politics and feminism, full of breathless urgency to be a part of the world and to make a world worth living in.

Oh, I’m so ill.

Before I go, here’s one last zine that you can’t get from Take Care.  Sunil wrote this before leaving Sydney indefinitely. You might be able to pick up a copy from Black Rose if you’re in Sydney, if not, contact me and I’ll try to get you one. This zine is a sort of  farewell and fuck off to a place you can only hate so much because it was/is actually important to you. And it sort of responds to some of the things Anwyn, Lou and I wrote in Walk so Differently, so it’s special to me for that reason.

Now, off to blow my nose, profusely.

TINA 09 and other stuff

October 12, 2009

So, TINA, obligatory update: car park = good. Ratio of zines to other stuff = bad. solution = segregate zines fair from other stuff fair? I don’t know, maybe other folks’ experience was different, but this year was quite disappointing for me. Hardly any sales and even less trades. What did other people think? I did manage to meet a few letter writers and the zines I did get were great, so I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it, but the energy I’ve witnessed & experienced in other years seemed to be missing. I don’t think that this is the organiser’s fault – perhaps just a reflection of how many people are making zines?

Well, I haven’t updated this blog in ages, so here are a couple of new things I’ve done, which you can order directly from here, or from Sticky in Melbourne.

Walk so differenty cover

A choose your own adventure zine by Lou, Anwyn & me, based on our experiences of living and growing up in Sydney. Read from cover to cover at your own peril (though, in truth, you’re just as likely to get confused if you follow the choose your own adventure structure). This one’s also available from Format in Adelaide.

Cafe de banques cover

Another collage zine by me, similar to the Maps one I did a few months back, if anyone read that. This one is an entirely two colour risographed thing, complete with dodgy colour separation and covers folded slightly too small for the inner pages. Oh well, it was my first encounter with a riso. With many, many thanks to Jess and Leigh of the Rizzeria collective for their time, help and patience. Check in the side bar for prices and what have you.

Pirate Cookbook: Fundraiser for Black Rose

August 8, 2009

Black Rose are looking for contributions for a new cooking/recipe zine: Pirate Cookbook (2). Here’s the flyer – there isn’t a precise submission deadline yet, but I imagine it’ll be around the end of Septmeber. Please contribute, and harangue everyone you know into contributing, too.

Pirate cookbook Flyer

New zines for Digging show

June 13, 2009

digging zine pink

Digging zine green

Digging zine blue

This is the zine for the Digging exhibition (see previous post), to be given away for free. As you can see, the cover comes in three eyecatching colours. If you’d like a copy, you must come to the exhibition.

It accompanies another zine, this one:

A map that interrupts itself

which will also be available at the show if  I get a chance to make more copies of it.

Afterwards both these zines should be available to buy/trade from this site.


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