Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fight Boredom with Fanzines, Community and Queers!

Shebang #1
I'm not usually one for zines that are produced on a computer. I often find that such zines lack creativity in the placement of images / art and sometimes go overboard on the font usage. However, Shebang is a perfect example of the beauty that can be produced. I fell in love with the cover (styled like a school notebook for children and printed on baby blue cardstock) ages ago and finally ordered a copy from Marching Stars last week. It was a little pricey, but worth it in my eyes. It's a fanzine that celebrates music, art, fashion and travel. Each issue holds interviews, album reviews, featured artists and a city review. This one contains interviews with Poppy & The Jezebels, The Subways and Peggy Sue & The Pirates, as well as pieces on crafting as a business venture, the importance of cover songs, Polaroid love (could've done with more than two pages of that!), Morrissey fandom and and a guide to Berlin. Another zine that reignites the wanderlust in my heart.

Sinking Hearts #2
This perzine was written by a girl in the UK all about dropping out of university and and trying to sort out her sexuality. She moved to Brighton (my favourite city ever!) to learn German and Spanish, but realized that the courses weren't challenging enough and wound up dropping out and deciding to pursue studies in linguistics instead. This tale is followed by a really interesting page of little-known facts about the English language. For example, no one knows where the word 'dog' comes from. Also, English was first written in a runic alphabet and there was a symbol similar to a 'y' but pronounced as a 'th'. Which means that the word 'ye' was actually pronounced 'the'. Neat, huh? She writes about attending a students' LGBT conference and not fitting in; with the students and "gay culture" in general. This is something I can relate to entirely, and found really captivating. This feeling lead to discussions on dating, coming out, crushing on straight girls and being diagnosed with depression. I really would have liked a little more from this zine... A lot of the stories felt like they could have been written more cleverly, instead of, "and then I did this and then I did this." Also, the cover features an image of T-Rex from Dinosaur Comics - and I think that dude is awesome, but I'm not sure how creative it is to use an image from a very popular daily online comic, you know? But I do think that Sophie seems like a pretty cool girl and I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with in the future.

DIY Or Don't We?
First off, the cover of this zine is absolutely adorable, featuring childlike girls picking apples together. It's a compilation zine about community and showcases pieces from the likes of Emmie Forman of The Olympia Film Society, Amy Adoyzie of Razorcake, Orion Moon who writes about community gardening with friends and neighbours, and a conversation-style piece by the people who organize Ladyfest Bellingham (and other feminist events). I found the whole thing really inspiring and feel that there's sort of something for everyone in this one.

Ricochet Ricochet #8
I think the mood of the people who write this one is totally infectious. It's written by a few queer people in Camberwell, UK, and although they are often writing about people that I don't know and bands that I've never heard of, they just seem to be having so much fun and I wanna get in on it. I especially enjoyed the zine and restaurant reviews, the fantastic cover drawing and the overall conversational tone of the zine. This issue comes with a mix cd that won't play in my cd player - which is kinda of a shame because apparently there's a band called Roseanne Barrr. How cool is that? (Note: Roseanne is my all-time favourite television show and I've always idolized that lady).

At Sea With Sexists
I'm not gonna lie, this zine was totally disappointing. Billed as something of a collection of retorts to the sexist comments that we hear in everyday life, I was expecting something cute and punchy but didn't really get anything out of it. To add insult to injury, a lot of the text was written in the dreaded Comic Sans font. Why do people do that??

What I Got In The Mail This Week: A nice, long letter from Hannah, a leopard print cloth pad and a bunch of stickers from Morgan of Lunapads (as trade for zines and pins), and an anti-civilization zine that came without a note. I don't know if it's part of a trade, or if I'm supposed to review it here or what - let this be a lesson to always include notes with unsolicited mail!

What I've Been Up To Lately: Putting together a short presentation on riot grrrl for my French class, finally attending a queer dance party (the music left something to be desired, but my friends are awesome and we had a great time), stumbling into a Pita Pit at four in the morning and receiving free falafel, trying to figure out what I'm going to do school-wise in the future, attempting to make zucchini fries with Sarala, celebrating my one-year anniversary with David (and getting This Is Love by PJ Harvey stuck in my head whenever I think of him), considering volunteering at the daycare centre that's run by my school, getting really excited about the Chicago Zine Fest, discovering a really cute zine-love video (posted above) and waiting for the snow to melt.


Sophie said...

hello! I'm the author of Sinking Hearts 2. I really appreciate your comments! Especially on my writing style - it really was written more like a train of thought but that is definitely something to watch out for. I'm pretty new to the zine world still and I really appreciate constructive reviews like yours :)

Regarding the front cover... sadly I can't draw to save my life, otherwise I probably would have designed something myself. What would you say would have been more interesting?

Sophie x

Hello Amber! said...

Hey, Sophie! I'm glad you weren't offended or anything. I love writing zine reviews and I like critiquing other people's work, but I definitely don't wanna make anyone feel bad. I thought your zine was really cool, and the first few zines are always the trickiest anyway, when you're first developing your own style and all that. I'm not exactly the world's greatest writer either, haha.

I don't think there's really anything wrong with the front cover and I can't draw either. I'm a big fan of cut and paste, but the trick is to use images that people aren't going to recognize immediately. I get a lot of clippings from vintage magazines and children's books and whatever scraps I find around.

Kromeheart said...

YA! We've been wearing the I <3 My Cunt pins at the office. They've become our new uniform.

Kio said...

was the anti-civ zine called albatross because i got that one, no note...

Hello Amber! said...

Morgan, that's so awesome about the pins! I'm glad you like 'em.

Yep, it was Albatross. I guess they wanna get reviews or whatever, but I found it incredibly rude that they didn't bother including a note to tell me who they are or anything. I'm not some sort of a zine-reviewing robot or whatever, you know? Most of the zines I review are ones that I bought or traded for myself, and the few people who have mailed me zines to review have at least included a note or emailed me first. Maybe I'm being too picky, but it just came across as really impersonal and tacky.