1999


This zine is set up as a comic book and follows the story of one man, Mark, and his love for his married co-worker, Nora. Set in the last few months of 1999, Mark is suffering from the Y2K paranoia that swept across the world as fears of apocalyptic destruction became rampant. The zine effectively shows Mark’s depression as a “loser, a college drop-out, with no prospects,” and how he feels about his dead-end job at a “sub shop with cockroaches.” I really liked this story—especially the brief pop-culture references that were scattered throughout (I about fell out of my chair at the BackStreet Boys montage in the middle of the zine. Hilarious!). While it is undeniably graphic in some places (reader, beware), it’s very, very funny and a great read.
–Theodore Grahams

Daddy Lightning


Daddy Lightning by Tom Hart was an excellent, heartfelt and comical zine. It showed the struggles of a single father who was trying to raise his daughter as best he could. It was very well put together. The cover of the zine is bright orange so it grabs your attention immediately. The father is holding his baby up in the air, and they are bolts of lightning on each side of him, which I thought was really cool. The zine was formatted in a comic book style and was drawn beautifully. It was very funny, I caught myself laughing a lot, every time the father would want to use the bathroom and the baby would start crying because she had pooped in her diaper. One scene from this zine that I really liked was when he entered into a swaddling competition with a group of mothers, and he came in second place and got the nickname “Daddy Lightning.” This zine was also very heartfelt because it was dedicated to his daughter who passed away when she was two years old of unknown causes. I really enjoyed this zine and look forward to reading more zines by Tom Hart.

Wait 5 minutes, it will change


I picked up this zine because of its title: “Wait 5 minutes, it will change.” This is a common saying in New Orleans in reference to the erratic weather patterns, and as a New Orleans native, I found this to be very compelling. A letter from the zine creator—with an apt instruction to “Start Here”—greets the reader when they open the zine, declaring that the works within are dedicated to the “two-year commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast, and to the city of New Orleans.” Lewis Wallace, the creator, tries to explain the two themes of the zine: New Orleans reconstruction and life as a trans person. While I loved both themes in themselves, I was hard pressed to see the connection between the two subjects throughout the zine. It seemed as if the pieces were written with no intention of being displayed next to each other. Overall, though, I enjoyed the writing and the use of mixed media—photography, maps, poetry, and prose—and I was greatly moved by the works presented within this piece.

–Theodore Grahams

Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon (Coloring Book)

When I have kids, I am definitely finding them a copy of this coloring book! Each picture comes with a caption that messes with gender stereotypes, as if the pictures don’t do enough. My personal favorite is the picture of the little boy dressed as Wonder Woman with the caption “Not every little boy wants to be Superman when he grows up.” Or the wedding cake with two brides and the caption “Marriage is so gay.” I was so hard to not pull out my colored pencils, but I wanted to save that experience for someone who actually checked this out of the library.

After all the coloring pictures, there is a little gender quiz/survey with questions such as: “What is gender?” “How many genders are there?” “In what ways do you feel confined or restricted by your assigned gender?” “Was the gender assigned to you the one you feel most excited about?” “What are you ideas for gender liberation?” I guess this is sort of the “adult part” for after you’ve finished coloring. These questions definitely make you think, though, especially after coloring.

Tori McManus

Adrift


This short zine, illustrated in shades of blue and gray, is told almost entirely in pictures. This is a comic-style (well, actually more like a children’s picture book) zine only has two lines of dialogue: “Oh, man. I am SO lost.” These words, depicted next to a picture of a scruffy man who is adrift in a raft in the ocean, are the opening lines of the zine. From then on, the man, who is hoping to be saved, is attacked by a shark, losing part of his raft in the battle. He fights the shark back, and the shark is then consumed by a giant squid. It is implied that (in the mind of the shark) the man is the reason for the shark’s death. Once the shark is overtaken, the squid then attempts to eat the scruffy, lost man. The squid doesn’t get far, though; he is beaten up by the man. While the man doesn’t get far in defending himself against the squid, a killer whale comes along and defeats the squid. Like the shark, the squid thinks that the man is the reason for his demise. Finally, the killer whale faces the man, and tries to help him get to safety. Ironically, the killer whale is the nicest animal, but the man thinks that his death is surely imminent. In an attempt to save his life, the man punches the whale in the snout, and the whale (poor whale!) swims off to cry alone. Finally, the man spies a boat and is rescued by a group of men. Telling the men on the boat of his trials, the man soon realizes that his saviors are whale poachers. Feeling badly about the whale, he leads the men in the opposite direction of the animal, and hops off the boat. The whale finds him, and the man and whale swim off into the sunset; happy. I like this zine. And while it took a few read-throughs to really get the narrative (it’s hard, since there are no words, and the pictures aren’t really descriptive enough to make a clear sense of story), it was enjoyable. The illustrations are superb, and it was a fun story to get into.

–Theodore Grahams

Mrs. Noggle #21

This zine caught my eye because of the unusual title. It is written by a 32 year-old woman named Jolie, who writes, does art, performs spoken word, and works in factory. She is married to Jamie Noggle – hence the name of the zine. She has been making zines for 15 years, which I think is very impressive, but this is the first zine that has made it past issue number 20. This zine is a look into the daily life and thoughts of Jolie, and includes poems, journal entries from her blogs, and retro pictures of 50s-style housewives. The downside to this zine is that the author’s writing style can be somewhat distracting or hard to follow at times. She is not a fan of capitalization, uses punctuation creatively, and likes to write with a stream of consciousness that is not always divided into paragraphs. There are lots of words on the page. If you don’t mind these things, this is a quick and entertaining read. I enjoy zines like this because I like reading short, personal glimpses into other people’s lives, thoughts, and musings. Mrs. Noggle’s entries run the gamut from ranting about drama at work to divulging her fears and insecurities to admitting that she does not want to have a baby. All in all, I would recommend this zine because it is a surprise on every page.

-Sentaniz Palmer

So Nervous #1

Corinne Mucha  and Heather Radke combine their respective skills – comics and essays – to make “So Nervous #1″ a very well-organized look into the odd little things that make them cringe.  Heather focuses her essays on her social fears – “What am I supposed to be doing?” at a concert, talking and making friends with people who terrified her, etc. So many little things cause her anxiety, so she misses out on experiences she later wishes she had participated in. Corinne’s comics are mostly about being a hypochondriac, although she’d never admit that’s what she was. Then, there are all the little things that freaked her out as a kid, like the teddy bear in the window of the witch’s house or black lights. The final essay and comic are geared toward how they personally deal with their respective anxieties and how tips for others to deal with their own.

-Anon

This collaboration between Corinne Mucha and Heather Radke is a quirky zine dedicated to anxiety.  The cover, which pictures a girl biting her fingernails with a nervous expression on her face, sets the tone for the rest of the zine.  There are anecdotes from a hypochondriac (or a hypochondriac in denial), stories about yoga and meditation, lists of things that can be scary (like a teddy bear or a kitchen timer), and expressions of regret about trips not taken due to anxiety or fear.  The essays, by Radke, depict a nervous but brave girl who is a little nerdy and a little unsure of herself.  The essays are a somewhat chronological portrayal of her struggle with anxiety and how she has coped with it throughout her life.  It is very easy to relate to her, and the reader will undoubtedly like and sympathize with her.  Mucha is her usual hilarious self, and her comics never disappoint.  Her tone is a little less serious than Radke’s, but although you know that she is making fun of herself, you also know that there is some truth to her revelations.  Overall, this zine is a quick, enjoyable read.  We all are worried or scared or anxious at some time in our lives, although some more than others, and this zine’s openness and humor towards the subject will both amuse and inspire readers.

-Sentaniz Palmer