Yesterday I got a packet from England.
It contained two zines, and I read both just now.
The Best Friend I Never Met took my
breath away. I have had friendships so intense and full of poetry.
I've had best friends like that too. I felt very sad about endings
and blown away by the beauty of the writing, all those feelings, and
so much physical distance with emotional intimacy.
It made me think of two best friends I
have now, both who live far away, and one day will they be a memory?
I like the white space. I wouldn't
have done it that way--I would have included tons. I probably would
have overwhelmed the reader. But this is done so I'm left hungry for
more, which is good.
The haiku zine Chorus Lines is
beautiful to behold. I like the pictures of people on the cover,
made in red. I like the poems and their immediacy. My favorite is
about a baby. Always emotional but never overdone.
This is a mental health zine about living with bad depression and anxiety. The first half is about struggling and shows a progression through time. Miz tries different medications and gives updates, talks about her relationship with her husband, talks about trying to help herself.
The second half is more theoretical and talks about oppression. Miz quotes scholarly texts and talks about grad school.
I loved this zine, both halves. And I forgot to mention the expressive, beautiful, and strange drawings throughout. They add a lot. I wish I made zines more like this.
I would like to give you an example of the intelligence of this zine. I am upset about people talking shit about self-care. I've heard a lot of that lately, and I am in opposition.
But Miz's analysis made me see the other side more clearly. I would like to quote an important passage.
"but i also feel like the implication is that there is something wrong with me and with what i have been doing that is causing all my problems. as if my depression has just arisen from me not taking care of myself my whole life. i am missing something else though, a part of this puzzle of getting better, another piece of understanding that would let me connect with people over these issues or situate my experience within a broader social context. i hate feeling as though my problems are entirely my own doing and that it's my personal responsibility to transform myself into the right kind of person."
I find this passage brilliant and giving voice to something very important.
And the whole zine's like this.
Highly recommended for all fans of mental health zines and everyone who likes insight.
The Daily Compulsion #5 by Nathan Rice is comix mostly about alcohol and its effects. It's also somewhat about relationship pain and AA.
I like the autobiographical-ness and the candor. It's interesting to learn about Rice's life. It's also sad. There's some humor here, like with the Alcoholic Anarchists Anonymous poster, but it's mostly sad.
This zine gives me a sense of gratefulness that I don't have the types of problems the zine displays. I think it would be perfect for other people who struggle with alcohol addiction to feel like they're not alone.
Today I was excited to receive a package from Japan in the mail. It was very pleasing to see, tied with twine, with its beautiful Japanese stamps, the SMALL PACKET sticker. And I was excited to know it was something for review.
I was a little worried about doing this review. I had a problem with some abstract comix a few months ago. Would this be the same?
Graeme McNee sent a cute note along with the book Minimal Comics Volume One. It has a smiling cloud and a hill with the very clear handwriting.
It's all so beautiful I almost didn't want to touch it. Is there such a thing as too beautiful?
I slipped the book out of its protective plastic sleeve and began to read. Each comic is a page long, just three panels. Each comic has a short title at the beginning. The short titles are simple.
The drawings are simple too. The ideas are simple yet funny. Some show an object as it progresses through time, and some are more complicated.
One that stands out to me is called ray gun. The first panel shows a ray gun. The second panel shows the ray gun shooting a ray through the frame. The third panel shows the ray gun just like the first panel, only there's a hole burned through the frame where the ray went. It's subtle and funny and fun.
These comics are very cute. But they are not naive or simpleminded. They are charming.
My favorite one is called mt fuji. I actually said, "Aw!" out loud. I had never seen such a cute mountain in my life.
McNee has included some postcards and a DIY comic for the reader to complete and submit for future publication.
I really like this book and hope McNee finds wild success.
I Am My Own Stereotype by Delaine Derry Green is a book of diary comix that come from the zine My Small Diary. They are full of energy and life. They're not daily journal comix--they span longer periods of time.
So much of whether autobiography is enjoyable depends on the personality of the creator. It's like friend chemistry. So let me tell you about Delaine. She's in some ways the opposite of me, yet I like her very much and in some ways envy her.
Delaine is energetic, fun, and socializes a lot. She enjoys drinking with friends and sometimes gambling. She enjoys large parties like Mardi Gras. She has close friends who she sees a lot and is a well-loved employee, often getting raises. She also likes cheese and collects PEZ dispensers. She's lucky, winning contests. She travels and attends rock concerts. Sometimes she talks about her unusual dreams. Overall, she's not afraid to talk about herself a lot, which makes sense seeing as this is diary comix.
In addition to the evocative and charming drawings, Delaine has a way with words and an eye for what's truly interesting. It's real life, but what of real life she chooses to share with us tells a story. The details are sometimes amazing and almost unbelievable.
As I began to read I Am My Own Stereotype, I felt suddenly dropped into a frenetic world. The more I read, the more accustomed to this world I became until I was mostly comfortable in it.
This book is a great addition to any comix bookshelf, and if you like diary comix and enjoy upbeat people, it will be perfect for you.
Under the Radar by Oliver Matthon is about people who pick wild mushrooms in northern California. It's a zine 40 pages long but reads like a short book. It's an ethnography. Reading it, I got a sense of northern California mushroom picking culture.
Under the Radar focuses on one man, a buyer named Alvin. This is a good center to the story. We see Alvin being approached by many pickers, and Alvin has to accept or reject the pickers' harvests. There's sometimes conflict.
Oliver Matthon himself is central to the story too. It's his adventure.
Something I noticed about Under the Radar was the lack of women. There's one important woman noted: Connie, who drives a brand new SUV and is the link between the rich of Napa and the poor mushroom pickers. Other than that, women are just noted as the girlfriends of pickers. The men are the real players here. This made me uncomfortable, and I can't tell whether it's a problem with the writing, a problem with the world, or a combination of the two.
Something else I noticed was that the writing seemed to jump around. Sometimes details were given in a seemingly-random fashion--I didn't see connections between the ideas. A lot of information is thrown at the reader--people's beer bellies, how tight their jeans are, hair color, etc. Oliver Matthon seemed to want to give us a quick sketch of a person. I would have welcomed more depth, but maybe he was limited to 40 pages.
I liked when I saw a scene--I liked when Oliver Matthon painted a picture for me, as opposed to listing details. One of my favorite parts was at the pot farm, a scene of decadence and humor. Here is a quote.
"When I opened the door, he was sitting on a chair in the middle of
the room with no shirt on, trimming buds on a huge platter
balanced on his knees, telling weed stories over loud music. There
were bags of pot everywhere. The old man was lying down on the
couch, smoking a cigarette. His son and the Mexican kid were
preparing to smoke weed through a black trumpet mushroom."
I think Under the Radar would have been better as a regular-length book. I hope other ethnographers are documenting cultural realities in a more thorough way.
Under the Radar could be a good introduction to the mushroom picking
life for someone who is newly feeling an interest in it. It could be a
snapshot document of a particular culture in a particular time and
place. It could be an interesting read for someone who's really into
mushrooms and would like to know where they come from. http://pioneerspress.com/catalog/zines/4083