I’m not going to lie, I know very little about this zine. I picked it up, flipped a few pages and knew immediately I was going to buy it. Every page is filled with photos of well-organized drug bust displays, each with various letters spelled out in money, bullets or the actual drugs themselves. Some are modest, others elaborate. The only deviation is a display of Red Bull cases that spell out the letters “PRF.” I assume those smugglers thought they were home free with their ingenious disguise. I would have never figured it out, but I’m not a trained DEA, FBI, ATF or border patrol agent. Where were these photos taken and how did they end up on the Internet? And what do the letters signify? I will be patiently waiting for Volume 2 with a thorough explanation.
It saw this zine nearly 7 times before I took it home with me, reminding myself that it was too silly a concept not to own for the bargain price of $5, and I would likely regret not purchasing it once it was sold out. “7 Foot 7” is a tribute to the Sudanese-born professional basketball player, Manute Bol, who was, in fact, 7-ft , 7-in tall. Growing up, Spud Webb was my go-to unconventional baller, but Bol was an equally intriguing anomaly on the court. In 1987 Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in the NBA, was drafted to Bol’s team, the Washington Bullets. For a single season Bol and Bogues were like The Avengers of Basketball. There is an entertaining fold-out portrait of the two that serves as the centerfold. Interesting bonus trivia included in this zine: Bol was the only player in NBA history to have more blocked shots than points scored. After winning a boxing match with William “The Refrigerator” Perry (due, no doubt, to his 102-inch reach) Bol donated all his earnings (estimated $3.5 million) to the Ring True Foundation to help Sudanese refuges. And, his first name means “special blessing.” Indeed. www.pauwaupublications.com
Does this really need an explanation? The illustrations in “Swords & Sorcery” speak for themselves. You got big-booty bikini-wearing babes wielding swords, severing limbs and getting ‘bout it with magic. They are not to be fucked with. A few of them even have tan lines. If this was ever your sexual fantasy you’d better send Todd James a thank you card and chocolates now, because he did it justice. These were printed in an edition of 50 to coincide with a pop-up event and they lasted about an hour, causing the last few copies to be raffled off so people didn’t punch each other over them. Luckily, I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who got me one. Kidding. Not really. I just know the guy. www.toddjames.com
If zines had a class system, “DMM” would be among the elite. The production value combined with the collection of beautifully printed imagery and overall execution make “DMM” more of an “art piece” than anything else. Screenprints, pullouts, experimental printing techniques and all the extra subtle embellishments set it apart from a typical zine. Its creator, Alex Lukas has thoughtfully compiled the pages using his desolate, post-apocalyptic-looking landscape drawings, while mixing in simplistic patterns and primitive graffiti scrawlings. Lukas who is no novice in terms of printing small books and zines, (Commander and chief of Cantab Publishing) has undoubtedly created an impressive show-stopping piece of printed material worthy of genuine attention. Unfortunately, only 50 were printed and they have already been collected and coveted. Meaning they are sold out! www.cantabpublishing.com
I was apprehensive to write about “Speaking of Trains” for a number of reasons, most notably because particular types of publications are sometimes meant to remain within the circles of certain sub-cultures. That being said, I will criticize that statement and say if the author didn’t want outsiders to know certain information about railroad culture they probably would have never been compelled to print this zine. Not that this is some kind of cheat sheet or information guide to being in the know. And I doubt this zine will motivate you to become a railroad worker or a tramp. Who knows, maybe I am “Blowing up the spot? Maybe not. All I will say about this zine is that it is possibly the most accurate and comprehensive glossary of current train rider and railroad worker terms compiled yet. That’s the rundown. And some of the descriptions of lingo are foolishly comical. www.peacesupplies.com
The most goofball, exceptionally defective, perfect mess of nonsensical imagery can effortlessly seep from one’s brain onto a piece of paper when combining weed and doodling. It’s a fact. “We’re in the spirit world, Casserole. They can’t see us.” is an exemplary testimony to stoner sketching at its finest. I mean, reread that title again. The punch line here is not that this zine was made while being stoned, but that it was made being stoned after not being stoned since 1998. That’s fifteen years of regular ol’ non-stoned drawing. Two consecutive nights puffin’ tough and Veks created this collection of hilarious drawings primarily based around his graffiti letters. Have you ever seen the letter “K” ride a BMX bike or play ping-pong? That’s happened and that’s just the beginning. www.miraclewhip.bigcartel.com
I encountered the photographic work of Elmo Tide through this here zine. I gazed repeatedly at the pages over the course of several months before being triggered by a particular photograph to dig deeper. In my attempt to find additional work via the Internet I came up with nothing. Well, a Flickr page exists containing the same images as in the zine and there is an obscure interview revealing absolutely nothing personal. Who is Elmo Tide? Likely a pseudonym for an exceptionally talented photographer who prefers to keep his identity hidden. And hey, who can’t respect that in these overexposed times? Many of us are lacking a little mystique and it often favors artists anyway, right? What you get from Mr. Tide is an eclectic, cinematic-looking mix of naturally lit, but often low, black and white photographs, documenting a variety of subcultures. Subjects like wrestlers, cowboys, and strippers are documented, along with those unusual moments that often pass by without notice in the street.
I’m unsure if a zine entirely compiled of photocopied stickers has ever been made. However, if anyone was going to be the first the appropriate person would certainly be MQ aka MKUE, MQUE, or MQIZM. The prolific vandal has made his adhesive obsession apparent in recent years, blanketing a number of major cities around the planet with his name badge-sized labels. When his photocopied stickers began popping up they spawned a resurgence of interest in stickers among graffiti writers and beyond, most notably in San Francisco. A new formula had been developed, and MQ willingly and generously divulged his methods for all to replicate. By folding sheets of stickers and binding them by a single rubber band and some glue, MQ created, simply, a “sticker zine.” This particular edition contains photocopied photographs from 1998 of his work with TIE. Other editions focus on the cities of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
When I suggested making a zine instead of a book, Martha Cooper agreed without hesitation. Martha was in South Africa taking photographs and spent some time in the culturally rich neighborhood of Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg. She recognized the correlations between Soweto and a neighborhood in her hometown of Baltimore named Sowebo. The similarity in names is no coincidence. Sowebo was nicknamed after Soweto over 30 years ago due to its desolate appearance and the name has stuck ever since. The photographs in “Soweto/Sowebo” present documentation of how opposite sides of the planet can have notably comparable landscapes, recreational activities, and obstacles, among other resemblances.
Whenever Art Basel is mentioned, I am reminded of my various failed attempts at going. For a number of reasons, I just can’t seem to find my way there. Every year I hear the highlights accompanied with reasons I missed out, as well as strong opinions on why I should never go. I always assumed Florida was an excuse to temporarily escape winter, be photographed at highly publicized events with pretty people, and consume exotic, bottomless drinks, no? Scam #7 by Erick Lyle is one man’s insightful perspective on all things Miami, including the 2003 FTAA protests and most importantly, Art Basel. There is a brief interview with Shepard Fairey in which the author suggests that Fairey appears overly defensive to any form of criticism and insulated from reality due to his status as a successful artist. A favorite quote is, “The truth really is, I have found Fairey’s pranks boring and fairly predictable since the first Andre the Giant stickers.” Ouch! This well researched, behind the curtain look reveals how Miami, with the help of developers, is determined to devise a new cultural identity. Modestly underpriced at $3, this zine is limited in photographs, but if you still recall how to read more than a single paragraph at a time, I suggest you sign yourself up and get a copy. www.microcosmdistribution.com
The overabundance of “My Harrowing and Life Altering Experience Riding the Wild Rails” stories, photographs and documentaries is currently everywhere. Like most risky subcultures, being a first-time rider or seasonal tramp has its adventurous allure. Not to say that you shouldn’t act on curiosity and set out in search of something new, but how ’bout know it before you show it? I know Swampy does. This zine in collaboration with Victoria Yee Howe is proof; a wordless visual diary of thoughtfully composed images. This is landscape solitude. This is train-riding porn. This is a rare printed treasure.
If the cover photo of a bearded, longhaired Charles Manson strikingly resembling Jesus and the clever title of Charles Manzine don’t have you sold at first glance, you’re taking this whole life-on-Planet-Earth thing too seriously. Relax, it’s just the man who coined the term Helter Skelter and was labeled “the most dangerous man alive,” although there is really no evidence that he ever killed anyone himself. It seems zines involving humorous content have been absent in recent years, replaced with the more common “it’s over your head” art zine. Many early fanzines’ original intent was to pay homage to a particular cultural phenomenon, Charles Manson being a legend in the Psychotic cult leader genre. Spending life in prison has not hindered Manson’s ability to remain shockingly photogenic over the years and the images catalogued here are a testament to his enigmatic draw/allure/personality. www.hamburgereyes.com
Skinner can draw, we know that, but his real talent might be writing punchy, dark poems worthy of this review. I ran into him at the Alternative Press Expo and he mischievously presented the following zine titled Poems to Crush Your Soul. Shoved carelessly into the back pocket of my friend’s jeans, this little time bomb of vulgarity was patiently waiting to be detonated. After several adult beverages, interest in this oddly non-illustrated work of Skinner’s became a priority. Within minutes, the words inside were recited loudly in a slurish, intoxicated tone to people walking by, fellow patrons at a handful of art shows, and anyone who came into close proximity. Reactions included reciprocated laughs or awkward confusion. By nights’ end there was no cover and it was mangled, torn, and abused. Eventually, if I remember correctly, it ended up being thrown at someone and abandoned in a San Francisco street. It took a beating but served as a centerpiece of entertainment for an entire night. Most zines I own get looked at once or twice, than live out the rest of their life in a box or on a shelf, seldom getting picked up again. This particular zine lived an accomplished life, even if for only one night. www.theartofskinner.com
Surfing on a coffin and giving the middle finger to a UFO are definitely on my “before I die” check list, although the probability of such occurrences happening does not look favorable. Maybe that’s why Jay Howell draws such ridiculously random scenarios; they are not possible in this world. With images that include surfers surfing while spray-painting dolphins, skateboarders riding smoking spliffs, and general shredding in every which way imaginable, the world Jay creates is one I would like to seek residency in. The Dark Wave follows a Black Metal band’s lead singer through an onstage panic attack, leading to a swift evacuation into the wilderness and his journey to find himself through the world of chance. Where will he end up? At the bottom of the abyss or riding the long wave to serenity? www.unpianobooks.com
The stories that make up the autobiographical adventure Raw Deal are the kind that are acquired through life experience, personal education, self-motivation, living off-the-grid, passion, failure, and observing with questioning eyes the world and the community called home. It is packed with numerous noteworthy punch lines only a witty linguistics railroader could muddle out. These are stories of solidarity and growing pains as a student brakeman on the railroad, historical and educational references of Bay Area history, and most of all, love for ecology with well-researched, insightful perspectives that will likely reconnect you, even just for a brief moment, with nature. Obtaining one of these gems may be difficult; a chance encounter with Joey along the tracks may be your only opportunity.
Between 1988-1994, Bill Daniel worked as a bike messenger, observing and recording a significant creative time in the streets of San Francisco. This creativity, or “new style vandalism” as I choose to call it, was popping up and spreading through the city’s landscape. Every single piece of artwork on these pages no longer exists and I’m assuming that most of it went unnoticed. Luckily for us, Bill took notice and took photographs. It’s a small body of work, a reminder of how overly documented things can be now. Not to say this is always a negative, but it makes that time that much more special. Two pages show a Soapbox Derby race held down the side of Bernal Hill. Last year’s annual event, 14 years later, was sponsored and promoted excessively by Red Bull. I will say it again: that much more special. www.hamburgereyes.com
Without ever viewing the contents and based on the title alone, Lindzine was a guaranteed hit in my own mind. From the age of 3, Lindsay‘s personal life has been an obsessive focus of the media and absurdly overly documented. How convenient this makes image searching the Internet for classic photos to compile! Scanning through the pages I am reminded of two things: When Lindsay is at her best, she’s angelic, and the camera is unfailingly complimentary. When she’s not, she looks like that easy, readily available drunk girl you went to high school with. After sharing this zine with a few friends, I realized that women have a very different view of Lindsay than men. Let’s just say that men universally look at the positive, while women focus on the alternative. A warning: leaving this zine for a girlfriend to stumble on could likely ensue in an awkward, interrogating conversation where you will be playing cautious defense. Side note: as I write this today, October 19, 2011, our beloved Lindsay just posted bail, again, for $100,000. Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindzine. www.thewormholes.org
It seems appropriate that a person or group of people who autograph the names Read, Read More, Read Up, Reader, Read Books, and Booker, among others, would eventually produce a form of printed media. Far from being a textbook or novel, Label 228 is an ambitious, visual collection of esoteric messages, photographs, text-based collages and illustrations. The influence of traditional graphic design and lettering are apparent. Resembling a diary, this zine reflects the mystery behind the author; appealing and still uncertain. “So many words for the sake of words alone.” www.operationmadman.com
SLF (Spore Liberation Front)
Radical Mycology aims to build awareness of the damaged earth by educating around the topic of mushrooms and informing about changes that need to be made. Stated gracefully, “The complex life cycle of mushrooms provides a profound and novel example (to civilized humans) of networking between different species and environments not exhibited by most other life forms. These actions show a concern for not just the mushroom involved but for the surrounding environment as well.” Rich in information, topics include lifestyle, implications, types of fungi, identification, preservation, cooking recipes, and cultivation, as well as alternative paper making methods utilizing mushrooms and creating dyes.
Mushroom hair dye anyone? www.radicalmycology.wordpress.com
And Heart 101 3d Popup Book & Sara Thustra Art Lybrary
I have never taken an interest in anything 3D; immediate symptoms of disorientation and brain irritation always develop. “What’s the fucking point?” comes to mind. Paying a premium for a movie solely because it is 3D seems foolish to me; I consider it a cheap gimmick with the false appearance of added excitement. This 3D zine may be the only exception. By folding pages you create new images. Interaction is the key and as simple as this sounds, this is complex for any zine. Brilliant! The idea is not purely original, but who cares? www.needles-pens.com
Them Thangs / The New Dark Age
William Eadon, Erik Brunetti, SCRMN, Mark Maggiori, Château-vacant, Corey Smith,
Felicity Byrne, Todd Tourso, Jacob Rolfe, Harper Smith, Miktor & Molf, Bob Tark, and Bill McRight
The Internet’s wide variety of blogging platforms has opened the doors for people to share or “curate” their interests, whether found images, visual inspiration, videos, links, famous quotes, or what they just ate. The amount of content is overwhelming and continually growing. You could spend the rest of your life investigating the labyrinth of information. When I stumbled on Them Thangs, it was apparent that creator Justin Blyth has spent an immense amount of time scouring the Internet and compiling a Greatest Hits of images from across the globe. Using his site as an inspiration platform, it’s nice to see a printed version of his collection. A compilation of thirteen artists’s work, The New Dark Age is a visual assault of dark, noir, and cultish imagery, curated by someone who has immersed himself in the genre. www.them-thangs.com
Isaac T Lin w/ Barry McGee, Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Alex Lukas, Jason Silen and Henry Lin
Not so surprising, a recent trip to the bookstore revealed the vast amount of humorous animal books on the market, the subject of cats being the most published genre, with such titles as Wet Cats, Glamourpuss, Stuff on My Cat, Bad Cat, Cat Gone Bad, and more. So why not dedicate a large portion of an illustration/photography zine to similar found photographs of cats? It’s obvious that Isaac T. Lin has a soft spot for the furry feline but is equally fond of Man’s Best Friend. Cats and dogs grace the pages spray painting, flashing the peace sign and wearing shades. Extra bonus: a nicely screen printed collaboration with Barry McGee on the inside. www.flickr.com/people/icesack
The Meandering of Death Row Inmate (California San Quentin, East Block, Yard 3)
Bob R Williams Jr
“In 1996 I entered a strange land of concrete and steel a condemned man, 20 years old, scared, lonely, curious, and lost.” Bob R. Williams, San Quentin State Prison. I could only imagine that if my path through life ever resulted in any length of incarceration I, too, would be creating zines to communicate to the outside world. The cover of The Meanderings of a Death Row Inmate is striking and reminiscent of soap scribbles on a jail cell wall. I couldn’t imagine another cover that could be more fitting. The writing and illustration are honest, short, and enlightening. Revisiting this zine I wonder what Bob R. Williams was convicted of. Not that it matters. I just feel lucky to have found him through his work.
The Young Adult’s Pocket Guide to Ritual Sacrifice
Ever wonder what materials are appropriate for building an altar? What tools would be suitable for a ritual sacrifice? Need to research the name of a demon, deity, god or spirit? Well, The Young Adult’s Pocket Guide to Ritual Sacrifice can answer all these pesky questions. A personal favorite from the zine: “School Bully: Tired of getting pushed around by jock meatheads? Why not solve your bully problem with words? The ritual incantations of a sacrificial ceremony, that is.” Need I say more? WWW.FLICKR.COM/JOSHFREYDKIS
Passions in the Sand, a Terrorist Romance Novel
You might assume that a terrorist would have little time for love, being consumed with strategizing fear tactics for religious, political or ideological goals. Knowing no terrorists personally, I can’t speak from experience on the subject. Illustrator Arien Valizadeh says, “All contemporary art must comment on the socio-political climate we all experience in one way or another.” I think that finding humor in the taboo topic of terrorism is courageous. I could see conservative America banning this zine and launching it into the media spotlight for a drawn-out debate on inappropriate subject matter. I hope Arien’s artistic talent some day propels him into an audience large enough for that to happen. www.arienvalizadeh.com
Junk Pirate #13
The first time I encountered Junk Pirate I remember saying to myself, “This costs only $1? How can this person even begin to cover costs and labor at that retail price?” I started thinking about other things I could purchase for $1 and came up with nothing that looked as interesting and engaging as this zine. You can’t even get on the bus for $1. Zines like this remind me of why I started making them in the first place. This project by Peter Glover is obviously a labor of love and for about $15.00 you can own the whole lot. To make it that much easier for you, Peter recently compiled the first 12 issues into a book. www.junkpirate.com
Dash I Miss You
Photographer Dash Snow was an enigma in the New York art scene. There’s been a lot of discussion and debate about his work and its significance in the Art World. In the Real World, I know he was adored by many people. Dash I Miss You by Dave Schubert is a testament filled with candid, intimate, and adventurous moments that only a close friend would have access to. After looking at this zine you can tell Dash (who passed away at 27) was someone who lived life on his own terms and by his own rules. You have to respect that. An added bonus: this zine comes with an original photo of Dash with gold fronts. The only way you can get your hands on one of these is by running into Dave himself. Good luck. www.seemsbooks.com
Vag Mage Stoned Babes
Aaron Anderson, Eric T. Carlson, and Crystal Quinn
I encountered this little gem digging through piles of zines at a friend’s house. To be honest, I know nothing about the artists involved. I do know that out of a pile of 50 zines this one jumped out, screaming to be held and fondled. Its binding was so slick and its overall presentation was very inviting. Even after opening it over and over again, I still don’t have a grasp on exactly what these artists are trying to convey. Maybe it’s nothing more than a collection of photos, drawings, collages, and writing. Sometimes a concept can go right over your head. I’m fine in not knowing. I do know that this zine is very aesthetically appealing. There’s an interesting group of people putting out this kind of work. www.thereisawe.com
Based in Los Angeles, Restitution Press is a collective zine with guest artists, curated and executed by Ryan Graeff. Each issue’s content is hand silk-screened by Ryan himself using trial and error processes that create random results. The first thing you’ll notice is that pages will indeed stick together. These have a unique feel unlike any zine I’ve encountered before. Find out about the latest series of zines at: www.therestitutionpress.com
If American education editors integrated the illustrations of Brendan Monoroe into their science textbooks we would have a new hyper-breed of scientists and artists. Organisms, blobs, oozing bacteria, foaming cells, spores, amoebas micro environments. Lost yet? Handbound with string, a small poster inside, and the nicest quality paper offered. Game over. Brendan has a new zine available at his website: www.brendanmonroe.com/
Days, weeks, months can go by and suddenly you realize you’ve been caught in the comfortable routine of life. Traveling has always been on the top of my priority list. So, when receiving Travis Conner’s series of 3 zines entitled Will Travel a few years back I was reminded, again, to get out of my comfort zone and pioneer a new adventure. These zines are personal photographic diaries of traveling by whatever means necessary, but most preferably by train. A simple message: get out there and find your own adventure while documenting the process. Travis Conner also went by the moniker Conrail Twitty, which can be seen while stumbling along many train tracks across Northern America. RIP, Travis. www.blurb.com