Reglar Wiglar
Picking the easy targets since 1993
 

 


ZINE REVIEWS

MORE REVIEWS HERE TOO:

Dwelling Portably by Bert and Holly Davis
Hot Damn and Hell Yeah by Ryan Splint
Slip of the Tongue by Katie Haegele


Railroad Semantics #2 - Aaron DactylRAILROAD SEMANTICS #2
by Aaron Dactyl
(Microcosm)
Microcosm has re-released another issue of photgrapher and travel writer (and freight train jumper) Aaron Dactyl’s gripping rail riding zine Railroad Semantics. Originally published in 2009, this second issue recounts Aaron's travels along the West Coast from Southern Oregon to Northern California. The romantic notion of living a life off the grid, free from the responsibilities of jobs and family and the hassles of The Man in general has always had a great appeal, maybe especially in periods of economic suckedness. Traveling at leisure or at the dictates of a locomotive with an unseen driver, from one town to the next in search of food, booze, shelter, temorary work or something even less specific is the name of the game. It can be grimey and dangerours but watchng the scenic Pacific Northwest roll by after a few slugs of whiskey or beer soundspretty goldang cool. Credit must be given to Dactyl for brining it alive with his writing a style the mixes enought rail lingo with some pretty vivid passages of the scenery, the people and the towns he encounters.
From the Deschutes River Canyon, Nena Siding, Portland to Eugene with descriptions of the small rail towns and their inhabintants that he encounters in them. Journeying down from Southern Oregon to Northern Calfornia, Aaron paints a picture of the picturesqe scenery. Tales of hitchhiking run ins with bulls and cops and fellow trainhoppers in a subculture of hitchhiking backpacking and transient lifestyle of sharing the rails, food, whisky and tales. Includes photos, graphs, train maps and train related clippings from local papers and assorted graphs as well as a hand-written essay from fellow hobo and boxcar tagger, John Easly.


Beyond the Music -- Joe BielBEYOND THE MUSIC
Joe Biel
(Cantankerous Titles)
Subtitled, “How Punks are Saving the World with DIY Ethics, Skills & Values," Beyond the Music collects interviews with dozens of movers and shakers in the punk scene—and not the safety-pinned, mohawked, vomity punk bands of legend either. No, we're talking about the printers, publishers, artists, writers, and organizers—real, everyday folks who are out there trying to create, produce and contribute to the world using their own set of ethics, guidelines and principals. Collected between 2008 and 2012, with some pieces previously published elsewhere, editor Joe Biel focuses on the individuals in the punk community who have made a lasting committment and contribution to promoting the aforementioned "DIY ethics, skills and values". Such luminaries as Todd Taylor of Razorcake, Ian Mackaye of Dischord Records, Chris Clavin of Plan It X Records, zinesters Urban Hermitt, Al Burian, and Robnoxious, and a whole smattering of punks from vegan chefs (Joshua Ploeg) to polarizing pundits (Ben Weasel) are given a forum to relate their stories and philosophies. Some may be unfamiliar to you, some may be household names in your house, but there's something to glean from all of them be it inspirational and/ or informational. My time has passed for such adventures but I'm more than happy to enjoy them vicariously through Railroad Semantics.


The Cold War Simple History #10-- J. GerlachTHE COLD WAR
Simple History #10
J. Gerlach
(Microcosm)

J. Gerlach is back with another mini-history lesson, this time on the Cold War between the two Super Powers of the mid-to-late 20th Century: USA vs. USSR. The Cold War is quickly becoming a distant memory as we fry new fish in the 21st century. We like our wars a bit warmer now, but the War on Terror still plays the same games. We still prop up weaker allies whose interests we belive match our own while inadvertantly sowing the seeds for future conflicts. This is now and that was then, however. In this current intallment, Gerlach lays out all the major events and the players in his Cliff's Notes of History style. You got your revolutions, your arms races, your pacts, your treaties and agreements as well as espionge, air lifts, thaws, freezes, police actions, standoffs and stalemates and it all ended when Mr. Reagan asked Mr. Gorbechev to tear down that wall in Berlin. Not quite, but I've heard it spun that way. Let us also not forget that the Cold War produced some great movies too. No, I'm not talking about Dr. Strangelove and the Manchurian Candidate, I'm talking about Red Dawn and Spies Like Us!


Unsinkable -- RobnoxiousUNSINKABLE
Robnoxious
(Microcosm)
Part Huckleberry Lewis and part Meriwether Finn, Unsinkable is a tale of life on the river—that river being the Mighty Mississippi and that life being a few months spent aboard the shanty boat Snowball. Now I knew punks lived on the streets and I knew punks lived out in the sticks. I knew punks hopped trains and criss-crossed the country like the hobos of yore, but it never, ever occurred to me that there were punks on America’s waterways. But there are and leave it to Robnoxious to provide me with an education on the subject.

The subtitle of the zine is "How to Build Plywood Pontoons & Longtail Boat Motors Out of Scrap” and Unsinkable is a bit of a how-to mixed with a travel diary (I’d say it’s about 90% travel to 10% how-to). I’m not a very technical person, I don’t build things out of other things, so I was more interested in the human side of the story. The Flight of the Snowball, the journey itself started in Kansas City, Missouri and follows Robnoxious and friends, both human and canine, on a river voyage that ended in Caruthersville, MO. Floods, strong currents, and things that float off in the night were just a few of the hardships the crew of the Snowball had to contend with. Drinking, smoking, camping, chilling and letting the river set the pace provided the balance. It sounds like a soggy, muddy and sometimes dangerous good time. Also included is a humorous article on the Asian Carp by Savannah who got caught in a fish mosh by this invasive species. The Asian Carp fearlessly fling themselves at the heads of unwary water travelers and as a result can do some serious damage to your cranium. Come on, Asian Carp! That kind of rude behavior is gonna get your ass on a Long John Silver’s menu, but probably under a different name and very heavily battered. [Robnoxious]


Trans-Siberian - Bart SchanemanTRANS SIBERIAN
Bart Schaneman
(Punch Drunk Press)
Trans-Siberian is a travelogue in mini-zine form making it the perfect size for globe trotting. It’s literally a pocket book of stories and observations about Bart’s travels from Korea to Russia via China and Mongolia.

The story begins with Bart having just finished a job in Korea. He flies to Shanghai, moves onto Mongolia and finally reaches his destination in St. Petersburg, Russia, home of his great grandfather, a Russian of German origin. In and along this route, and in no particular order, Bart interacts with fellow travellers on trains and in bars and hostels. He eats local cuisine. He is warned to be wary of the Mongols. He goes on an intercity car race with Russian teenagers. He drinks the local booze, takes in the scenery and is often times alone, under the stars with his thoughts.

Bart’s writing is well-paced and moves quickly with him as he glides through the cities and countrysides of Asia. His journalistic chops are in tact even as he keeps his writing on a very personal level which makes it interesting reading without being melodramatic.


WHITE ELEPHANTS
By Katie Haegele
(Microcosm)
Sweet, funny, wistful, slightly sad yet somehow optimistic—how do I describe Katie Haegele’s writing? Well, maybe Katie found a few better words herself, like the Portuguese word saudade or the Welsh hiraeth. Both seem to get at that feeling of nostalgic sadness that's hard to pin down. Katie wasn’t necessarily using these words to describe her own writing, only that she’s familiar with the feeling they represent. That’s what White Elephants is about, really. It's about regaining the past and reclaiming something that has been lost. It’s about buying a bit of saudade. Of course, there’s also something satisfying about finding a good bargain.

White Elephants is four yard sale seasons in four sections. Throughout the book, Katie schools us on the differences, sometimes subtle, between yard sales and estate sales and their more churchy rummage sale cousins: different clientele, different proprietors and sometimes very different vibes can be found at each. Katie gives vivid, humorous descriptions of the people she encounters and the stuff they're either buying or parting with. White Elephants is about more than this, of course. Katie’s dad died when she was twenty-one and as a result of this tragic event she developed a friendship with her mother, and fellow yard sale devotee, that she might not have otherwise. White Elephants is also about relationships and community (Katie still lives in the town she grew up in, just down the street from the house she grew up in.) The last section, "Yard Sale Season Four," sees Katie embarking on a new relationship that might take her away from all of these things.

You can read White Elephants for tips on which sales might be best for finding used books or records, clothing or accessories. You won't be disappointed if you do, but read it for a story about loss, family and the comfort old things and you will be rewarded in kind by this well-written, heartfelt memoir. Now that's bargain!


Home Sweet Homegrown zineHOME SWEET HOMEGROWN
By Robyn Jasko
(Microcosm)

The subtitle of this book sums up the content quite concisely: "How to Grow, Make and Store Food, No Matter Where You Live". What can I add except to say that it delivers on this stated purpose. And not only that, it does so in a well-organized and easy to read fashion. Ok, I haven’t put it to practical application yet, but I certainly could. Starting with seeds and seedlings through to planting, harvesting and using and preserving the fruits of your labor, Robyn Jasko schools the aspiring green-thumb on the how-to. She even gives us the why-for (page 9). There's instruction on how to make rain barrels, non-toxic bug sprays and baba ganouj and, as a bonus, the book looks great and is lovingly illustrated by fellow Pennsylvanian, Jenn Briggs. Whether you're growing on a window sill in the city or a wild garden plot in the country you now have no excuse to get planting.


Manifesto zineMANIFESTO #1
Published by Ed Tillman
This small (four by five and a half inch) zine concerns itself with art. That is to say, fine art. Manifesto's introduction to the world starts with an accounting of a conversation among friends about what constitutes art. After the futility of that question is established, the rest of the zine features short snippets by various artists on a variety of art-related subjects. "Polaroid” waxes nostalgic for that archaic camera and film. “Dirty Filthy Art” recommends good old preservative-filled white bread to clean up old paintings, and “Plate Glass Observations” is people watching in an LA neighborhood through the window of a tiny Greek restaurant. If you're artistically inclined or merely artistically interested in art, this zine was made with you in mind. [edtillman]


Roctober #50

ROCTOBER #50
(Roctober)
Twenty years and fifty issues of Roctober. Kinda hard to believe, but you can believe it because it’s true and I tell the truth and I’m telling it to you right now, so there. This anniversary issue revisits some of the artists that have been featured in the past and publisher, Jake Austen, steps out from behind the curtain to weigh in here and there on the content, thereby breaking a rule of his to never insert himself into the story. Roctober always did chuck the rules out the window, however, and this is certainly an occasion to do so. In addition to interviews and updates, there are, of course, several tons of the comics and reviews we’ve all come to expect from this crazy hodgepodge of a magazine. (Full disclosure: there's even a Cassetty Comic or two). Here’s to another 25 years or Roctober!

Read the Reglar Wiglar interview with Roctober's Jake Austen!


The Heat and the Hot Earth - Adam GnadeTHE HEAT AND THE HOT EARTH
Adam Gnade
(Punch Drunk Press)
Adam Gnade returns with a new novella—a newvella, if you will. The Heat and the Hot Earth continues the story of aimless youth Gnade established with, Hey, Hey Lonesome. If you've read this previous title, you will recognize a few names (Tyler, Ted Boone, Joey Carr) and be introduced to new ones. At least they were new to me, they may have made previous appearances as Gnade often revisits characters in his work. The chapters of The Heat and the Hot Earth are presented in the forms of letters, dreams and blog posts, and from the points of view of the different characters. New or old, it is purported that Gnade will, at some future point in time, unite these characters, situations and locations and tie them all together into one tight knot. Or not.


Xerography debt #29XEROGRAPHY DEBT #29
Davida Gypsy Breier, Editor
(Leeking Ink)
The columns in XD #29 are a continuation of the “Revenge of Print” theme put forth in the previous issue. Publisher Davida Gypsy Breier contemplates the current state of zine and small press publishing, Dread Socket offers his take on what is and/or isn’t a zine and Inner Swine’s Jeff Somers writes another column about himself. Things seem to be getting a little Maximumrocknroll in zineland these days, which can be interesting and spark good debate right up to the point where it becomes a parody of itself. We’re not there yet, I don’t think. And then there are the reviews by the likes of zine movers & shakers, Joe Biel (Microcosm Publishing), Liz Mason (Caboose), and about a dozen other lovers of all things zine.


Railroad Semantics #1RAILROAD SEMANTICS #1
Aaron Dactyl
(Microcosm)
My exposure to zines dealing with the culture of trainhopping is limited to... well, this zine right here. In Railroad Semantics
, author Aaron Dactyl describes his short hops on freight lines in Washington State between "Eugene, Portland, Pocatello and Back" as the zine's subtitle states. In his despictions of these travels, Aaron writes as if he were talking to fellow hobos (my term, not his). He uses railroad terminology as if we, the readers, were also intimately familiar with the differences between a EEC and a DPU. This is less a detraction than the added weight of authenticity, and it makes the pictures he paints of the Pacific Northwest, and the isolation of solo train travel, no less appealing. Like the markings on railcars that train hoppers leave for each other, Aaron is simply sending a message to later travelers, warning them what to look out for by relating what he encountered in different yards.


Zinester's Guide to PortlandZINESTER'S GUIDE TO PORTLAND
(Microcosm)
Never been to Portland—not Portland, Oregon, not Portland, Maine. I have watched five episodes of Portlandia, however. Does that count? Didn’t think so. If I ever do make it to the City of Roses (Portland, OR), I will surely be taking this guide with me. The Zinester’s Guide to Portland was put together by zinesters, but you certainly don’t need to be a zinester to use it. It’s written for the “low/no budget” type of traveler, which is a category I fall into. Museums, thrift stores, record and book shops, restaurants, bakeries, video stores, pizza joints, watering holes, coffee and tea shops, parks and bridges are all listed, laid out by geographic location and neighborhood and explained. It’s a Portlandicopia of useful information complete with maps and illustrations. It really makes me want to jump on the next Empire Builder out of Chicago for a slice of Portland's Sizzle Pie pizza.


Dwelling Portably #5DWELLING PORTABLY #5
(Microcosm)
Dwelling Portably is a bit of a turducken of sorts: it’s a zine, stuffed within a zine, stuffed within a zine with reprints of other, similar publications reprinted within its pages. That makes for a jam-packed, endlessly informative guide for people who choose to live on the fringes of society. It also makes for some fascinating reading for city folks like myself who enjoy the escapism of thinking about this type of nomadic lifestyle. The text starts about an inch down from the top of the front cover and doesn’t stop until about an inch up from the bottom of the back cover. In between you’ll find foraging techniques, tips on gardening, shelter building, best natural remedies, best camping sites and all manner of information on how to live sustainably and completely off the grid.


Simple History #9 - The CongoTHE CONGO
Simple History #9
J. Gerlach
(Microcosm)
To quote the Daily Show’s Earth, The Book: “...no other continent could more truly say, I was raped.’” Talking of course about the continent of Africa. Pretty blunt, but there you have it. The area in central Africa known as the Congo is just one region, albeit a very large one, that was ripe for exploitation by European powers in the mad rush to secure the world's land and resources that started in the 16th Century. In the Congo's case, it was Belgium that took the lead, but they seemed to hardly have the heart for it. Control of the Congo was ceded and regained countless times as slave trading, foreign meddling and the indigenous peoples' inability to work out their own tribal differences and prejudices would plague them for decades to come. Congo's recent history is no less blood-free and has been mired in civil war and struggles with power-hungry dictators and staggering poverty. And that's a summation of J. Gerlach's simple history of a very complicated region of a very complicated continent. If I may again quote from Earth, "our species arose from Africa and we punished it for our failures ever since." Up next: Extreme climate change. Sorry again, Africa.


Hawaii: Simple History #5HAWAI'I
Simple History #5
J. Gerlach
(Microcosm)
Number five in Microcosm's Simple History Series chronicles the history of the Hawaiian Islands from their "discovery" by Caption Cook in 1778 to the eventual statehood granted by the United States in 1959. Hawaii's story is a tale of colonization, exploitation, imposed capitalism and governments and corporations slicing themselves up the biggest piece of the poi. It's a story of Kings, Queens, Politicians, Missionaries and, as always, ordinary People caught in the middle. And that, folks, is pretty much the history of everything everywhere. Unfortunately.

Hawai'i's history post 1959 would continue to have highs (the alleged birth of the 44th President of the United States) and lows (Honolulu's perpetual hosting of the National Football League's incredibly pointless Pro Bowl) and then of course there was Bobby Brady's "discovery" of an ancient tiki on September 22, 1972.


Simple History Series #4: The Spanish Civil WarTHE SPANISH CIVIL WAR
Simple History #4
J. Gerlach
(Microcosm)
Microcosm’s Simple History Series is a collection of small zines on big historical events. They're sort of like the notes that a really good student would take in a history class while the rest of us doodled and decorated the covers of our notebooks with our favorite bands' names (Me: Hüsker Dü, You: Mötely Crüe, probably). The subject of issue number four is the Spanish Civil War—another major turning point in the war between left and right-wing ideologies that would preoccupy world powers for the next few wars (hot and cold) for the bulk of the 20th Century. This edition is interesting, easy to digest and kind of a cool thing to have on the bookshelf next to your Johnny Ryan comics—kinda classes things up a bit (no offense, Johnny)
.


RAD DAD
Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood
Edited by Tomas Moniz & Jeremy Adam Smith (microcosm) (pm press)
The Rad Dad book is a greatest hits package of the zine Tomas Moniz has been publishing for going on twenty issues now. It’s written for men who may be struggling with all the complexities of being a father in this or any age. The book is broken up into sections: "Birth, Babies, and Toddlers," "Childhood," "Tweens and Teens," and "Politics of Parenting." The last section of the book features interviews with rad dads like hip hop writer Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop) and Ian McKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens, Dischord Records). I am most certainly rad but not a dad, so I haven’t read every article and essay in this book, but some are interesting regardless of your parental status ("Notes From a Sperm Donor" for example). If, however, you have achieved fatherhood and are looking for advice find comfort in the fact that you can turn to the pages of Rad Dad, now in handy book form.


Dream Whip #1-10 - Bill BrownDREAM WHIP #1-10
Bill Brown
(Microcosm)
Dream Whip is an unabridged compilation of Bill Brown's long-running zine of the same name. Seems like Bill did a lot of traveling between 1994 and 1999 and his zine chronicles that time on the road. DW is filled with short pieces, both fictional and nonfictional observations, comics, drawings and tidbits cut out of local newspapers and tourist brochures. The writing style can come off sounding like that of a freshman writing student at times. It suffers from simile overload in places and it seeks to flatter Beat writers in its imitation, but that's likely a result of a young writer trying to find a voice of his own. There's much improvement by issue number ten which Bill instructs readers to treat as a road map of his travels from Texas to Canada and back again.


Hey Hey Lonesome - Adam GnadeHEY HEY LONESOME
Adam Gnade
(Punch Drunk Press)
This novella, by author and musician Adam Gnade, is intended to introduce readers to the characters that will appear in Adam’s forthcoming novel. It's a prequel, if you will, that follows the characters around San Diego in the hours leading up to a party where all of their paths will cross. It is at this point that the novel (finished but as yet unpublished) will begin. Hey Hey Lonesome is a part of a series of fiction and music that loosely ties together various characters through songs and stories. The work is intended to convey a picture of contemporary American life the way American Graffiti portrayed life in the early 60s or more recently Dazed and Confused in the mid 70s. Similarly, the characters in Hey Hey Lonesome are young, shiftless, in or out of love, bored, under the influence, or all of the above. Adam's prose style even reads like a script at times. The viewpoints of the characters are first person and we hear their inner monologues, but the scenes and action are described like stage directions, sometimes parenthetically. It is unclear at this point how the characters' lives will intersect and how they will interact with each other, but the scene has been set for the full story to begin. Stay tuned.[adamgnade.com]


RAD DAD #19
Tomas Moniz, Ed.
(Microcosm)
Editor and rad dad, Tomas Moniz is back with another issue of his Rad Dad zine. The purpose of Rad Dad is to help guide dads in the raising of their kids. Actually, it's not a guide necessarily, although it does serve that purpose. Tomas's goal is to share stories, thoughts and observations on parenting with like-minded parents who have made their share of mistakes and have learned from them. The contributors are not all dads either, but they are all activists, organizers, musicians and artists. They're definitely to the left politically and the challenges they confront while parenting range from issues like early gender identity ("The Handsome Daughter" by Laura Pretnar) to food activism ("How to Turn Your Kids into Radicals" by John Chapman). There are interviews with activist/writer John Conant and Pittsburgh musician JonJon Cassagnol, as well as several pieces remembering Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by BART cops in Oakland in 2009.


Burn Collector #15 - Al BurianBURN COLLECTOR #15
by Al Burian
(alburian.com)
Al Burian is back for another issue of Burn Collector. BC #15 finds Al living in Berlin. Like always, Al shares his thoughts and observations on life in his newly chosen city, but before that he needs to deal with a searing toothache that sends him immediately to the streets in search of a dentist. After an aborted first attempt at the dental office in the building he lives in, Al finds a caring, gentle soul who is willing to ease his pain. She of course disproves of Al's lack of preventive dental maintenance. Al returns later to plead poverty to the woman, who he hopes will fall in love with him and forgive his debt to her. Doesn't happen.

Also in this issue, Anne Elizabeth Moore contributes a piece, "When You Realize the Freedom" (title courtesy of a Hasselhoff lyric) on the selling of the Berlin Wall (more literally than figuratively). There’s an interview with fellow zine-maker and ex pat Liam Warfield on living in Berlin. Al also reviews various things like Berlin’s Tegel Airport, books on writing (Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King), people (Ronnie James Dio) as well as various records, squats and Germany’s May 1st holiday.

Always good to check in. No comics though? What's up with that, Al?


East Village Inky #48 - Ayun HallidayTHE EAST VILLAGE INKY #48
by Ayun Halliday
(EVI)
One-time member of the Chicago Neo-Futurists theatre company, Northwestern grad, writer of several books, zinester and native Hoosier, Ayun Halliday is now the proud publisher of forty-eight issues of The East Village Inky. EVI was begun when Ayun and husband Greg Kotis (Urinetown, look it up!) lived in an East Village apartment. Now in Brooklyn with two children, she continues to produce this hand drawn, handwritten and hand-laid-out zine. This is my first encounter with EVI and just my luck, it’s also the first ever music issue, and I like music. In this forty page mini, Ayun recounts tales of her musical listening history touching upon early influences from grade school through high school, college and beyond. I must admit, I do not have much in common with Ayun as far as musical tastes (Todd Rundgren is the zine’s centerfold for example), but I won’t dwell on that. What I can relate to is the joy of making and receiving mix tapes and I agree that movie soundtracks are good ways to discover new music that is often old music. I enjoyed the section in which a smattering of “hip” Brooklyn teens are interviewed about what they're listening to. They seem to have pretty developed musical tastes, which is either due to living in Brooklyn, their parents, the accessibility of music on the Internet or all three—the perfect storm for "hip" in this modern age, I suppose.

EVI reads like a conversation you're having with a friend you haven’t seen in a while and you only have a short time to talk. A lot gets crammed in, topics change quickly and sometimes you lose the thread of the converation for awhile but your friend is so happy to fill you in that you really don't care.


Devastator #4THE DEVASTATOR #4: ARCADE
Devastator is a comedy magazine in digest form. It contains comics and other writings of a satirical nature intended to make you laugh, preferably out loud. It succeeds in this endeavor. Number four is the "Arcade" issue, although nostalgia is really the theme here. This is immediately evident from the flip side of the book, which is a parody of my beloved Choose Your Own Adventure series from the 70s and 80s. Writer John Ford skewers the genre with “Night at the Arrrrr-cade!” where the second person you get’s trapped in a haunted game room. They’ve got everything down to a tee in terms of the fonts and writing style of those books and Marc J. Palm’s cover is spot on in it’s imitation.

There’s comics too, with James Kochalka delivering a Glorkian Warrior's tale in “Attract Mode,” Matt Taylor’s "Marriage Command" is good for a giggle and Edmund McMillen serves up something called “Meat Boy and Dr. Fetus” in the tradition of Goofus and Gallant.

Some of the satirical targets of Devastator are either before or after my time (probably after, sadly) like Amanda Meadows' "Mr. Do: Return of the Dino Drones" which parodies Scholastic Publishing’s Blast into Books series, of which I am unfamiliar. Judging from this piece, however, I get the gist of what those books are like. I know the type of crap education publishers try to download to developing brains.

Even the revered Atari 2600 is not spared the comedic wrath of Devastator. John Schnepp delivers a withering indictment of Atari’s 1979 game "Adventure" titled "Sadventure". And deservedly so, I mean, did they really expect us to believe that floating duck was a frickin' dragon? That game sucked on so many levels (pun intended).

And there's plenty more in this issue that a brief recap, such as this, is forced to omit. In short, Devastator showcases a mountain of talent by writers and artists who also contribute to some big names in comedy from Conan to the Onion News Network. And it looks great too.


CIAMSFU #6THE CIA MAKES SCIENCE FICTION UNEXCITING #6
The Life of Lee Harvey Oswald by Abner Smith (microcosm)
Two thousand and eleven marks the 10th anniversary of Microcosm's CIAMSFU series. This is the first one I've read, so I'm only a decade behind at this point. Issue number six is a short bio of Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Using declassified government documents, writer Abner Smith constructs Oswald's life from his troubled childhood in New Orleans through his troubled military career to his troubled time in the Soviet Union (and his unsuccessful attempts at defection) and his troubled marriage to a young Russian woman. Seems like Oswald was a bit troubled—a loose nut, probably not to be trusted as a spy or double agent. He was more likely than not, just a disillusioned wanna-be revolutionary and hardly someone the government would want to work with in the assassination plot of one of the most powerful men in the world. Yet something doesn’t quite fit and this is the CIA were talking about here. If you lean even slightly toward conspiracy theories regarding this pivotal part of American History, then the ultimate objective was achieved and we know Oswald didn't spill his guts. Well...

An interesting read for sure, but Smith doesn't necessarily shed a lot of light on the subject for me. His writing style is a little clipped and he could have probably benefited from an editor to help organize his thoughts a little better, but this a zine not a graduate thesis so that's a gripe not a dis. It is amazing the things the CIA/FBI and the US Government think they can get away with. What would probably be even more amazing, are the things they have gotten away with that we'll never know about.


 

Xerography Debt #28XEROGRAPHY DEBT #28
Davida Gypsy Breier, Editor
(Leeking Ink)
Xerography Debt isn’t your father’s Factsheet Five (it’s much smaller) and it's not your mother's Zine World (the reviews are too positive), but Davida and her small band of volunteers have been carrying the torch for zinesters and the small press for almost thirty issues now.

Number 28 keeps with the familiar XD format of columns and reviews. Columnist Dread Sockett defends XD's decision to run only positive reviews; Inner Swine, Jeff Somers provides an explanation of why he keeps his opinion of other zines out of his own; Gianni Simone highlights the dying but not-quite-dead art of mail art and a handful of faithful zine readers tell us about the cream of the small press crop. Also in this issue is the second installment of the “Where Are They Now” feature which asks former zine publishers a few questions about why they stopped publishing and if they plan to ever take up the small press pursuit again. Some will, some won't and issues of time and money are invariably the reasons for stoppage.


So Raw it's Downright FilthySO RAW IT’S DOWNRIGHT FILTHY
Joshua Ploeg
(Microcosm)
The last raw thing I ate was a raw radish, which was radically delicious, but other than that, I am not a vegan or a vegetarian and I am definitely not a rawcist. Therefore, there's a good chance that I will not be using any of the recipes in this zine cookbook. I like Joshua’s attitude though. Despite being a vegan/veg chef himself, he still likes to rib militant dieters, as he does in a short excerpt reprinted from his zine, A Chef's Tale: Strange Travelers Tales of Food, Sex, Random Occurrences & Other Culinary Disasters. If you’re a hard-liner, it doesn’t matter whether your hard line is politics, religion or vegetables, lighten up already! Whatever your diet dictates, many of the recipes in this zine sound pretty dang tasty: Curry Banana, Avocado Mousse and Plum Salad, etc. I do not agree, however, with the decision to include random black and white (black and pink actually) photos of things that are filthy, like the toilet on the cover. This is perhaps to tie in with the zine's title. Ok, I get it, but it's still kinda gross.


The Comics Journal #301THE COMICS JOURNAL #301
Gary Groth, Editor
(Fantagraphics)
When did The Comics Journal get so freakin' fat? Weighing in at one and a half pounds, this 624 page sucker features more of what you love (or hate) about comics criticism: long, detailed interviews and reviews that will take you days to read. Absorbing, or perhaps tedious depending on your mood, this is a beast I’ve been wrestling with for a few months. This issue features an interview with R. Crumb conducted by Journal publisher, Gary Groth. The topic of discussion is Crumb’s illustrated creation story, Genesis. Groth questions Crumb on the development of his technique over the years, his creative process for this project and what led him to begin his adaptation of the ultimate beginning. The interview is followed by a roundtable barrage of praise and criticism from over a half dozen art and culture critics, who either praise Crumb or take the artist to task for a variety of sins.

Also featured in #301 are sketchbook/interviews with Tim Hensley, Stephen Dixon and Jim magazine creator, Jim Woodring, from whom Groth seeks to find an answer to the question of why Woodring is compelled to draw such repulsive images. Turns out Woodring doesn't really know.

MAD Magazine fans will appreciate the transcribed, transgenerational conversation between the 89-year-old Al Jaffee (creator of the Mad fold-in) and Michael Kupperman (a current pop culture provocateur) in which the two artists talk about art as work, art as satire and art for art’s sake.

Adding further heft to the issue is Tim Krieder's arugument with himself over the question of whether or not Dave Sim’s epic Cerebus comic should be considered a major work of art? I must admit that I haven't been swayed that it should, but I also haven't made it to the end of Krieder's article and I've only made it through Volume 1 of Sim's 16 Cerebus volumes.

But wait, there's more, including an article on comics pioneer and "Dean of Amercian Cartoonists," John T. McCutcheon; an interview with Joe Sacco concerning his graphic novel Footprints in Gaza; reprints of the "Gerald McBoing Boing," strip penned by one Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Suess; and a slew of other aritcles, criticism and opinion that I haven’t even gotten to yet—all wrapped in a fantastic Robert Crumb cover taken from his Genesis book.


Cometbus #54COMETBUS #54
Aaron Cometbus
Haven’t read Cometbus in awhile. I like the switch to type even though Aaron does have very legible handwriting. It's just much easier on these old eyeballs. This issue sees Aaron on tour with longtime pals Green Day. It seems that his relationship with one of the biggest bands in the world has come full circle from the Berkeley days of the early 90s. This gives Aarron pause for thought as he contemplates the way his relationship with the band has evolved. There’s some self-reflection on the views of Aaron's younger self, which may have been at tad rigid in retrospect. He also remembers that Green Day—a band that were decried as sellouts to the Berkeley punk scene—were never accepted by that scene in the first place. At the end of the day, and at the end of his brief stint on the tour, Aaron has a new found respect for his old friends. These are all revelations Aaron has as he wanders city streets in Thailand, Japan and Singapore. I was never a big Green Day fan myself, but the longevity of their career forces me to give them props, especially considering all the cookie-cutter pop punk bands they left in their wake. Aaron exposes Green Day for who they really are: regular people that other regular people put up on pedestals.


Roctober no. 49ROCTOBER #49
(roctober.com)
Another action-packed issue of the rag tag Roctober zine. Comics by John Porcellino, King Merinuk, Rob Syer. Craploads of reviews and interviews. Jake interviews his long-time musical hero Glen Danzig and tries his best not to annoy the Devil-Locked One. (Glenn’s publicist warns Jake in advance not to bring up the Misfits, or try to be funny and to exceed fifteen minutes. Does he comply with these wishes? Find out.) Jake also talks to Zero Boy’s Paul Mahern who walks Jake through each track of their blisteringly awesome 1982 record Vicious Circle. AND, if all that wasn’t enough, we get us some Nardwuar. Love me some Nardwaur. AND, if a dose of the Human Serviette isn’t enough, the interviewee is no less than the iconic John Lydon! Also included in #49 are articles, interviews, updates and columns by the likes Gentlemen John Battles and Larry Pig Gold. In summation, to quote former Governor Roddy B: "I got this thing and it's effing golden".

Read the Reglar Wiglar interview with Roctober's Jake Austen!


BIRD NERD/JONES MALTZ-BURGER COMIX #1
SAYTOWN REVIEW #2 & 3

Got three zines from Texas in the mail. From San Antonio, comes two issues of Saytown Review. This digest-sized literary zine features poetry (jo reyes boitel, Illabaster Fernandez Green, The Great N.I.S. and Julian Flores, Lisa Del Bosque, John Rob, Roxy Guevara), short nonfiction stories (Robert Bottelo), paintings (Jazmin Martinez, George Garza, Diana Rocha), photos (Stephanie Salazar), interviews (artist Jacinto Guevara) and comics by Robert Birdnerd, Chris Navarro and Alfonso Mata. The third zine comes in the form of the Birdnerd Comix/Jones Maltz-Burger Comix split between Robert Birdnerd and Alfonso Mata. Both artists contribute journal strips that briefly describe everyday life in San Antonio. Mockingbird attacks appear to be quite common. $3PPD. c/o Robert Botello, PO Box 460303, San Antonio, TX 78246-0303.


Rad Dad #18RAD DAD #18
Tomas Moniz
(Microcosm)
This issue is my first introduction to Tomas Moniz's Rad Dad zine. Rad Dad represents the perpective of parents who are also anarchists trying to find a balance between those two things. RD#18 is the 'Sex & Love' issue and features short bits from various like-minded contributers who share their parenting stories. Tomas tells of his own efforts in talking to his kids about sex when he discovers that his son had downloaded hardcore pornography to his (Tomas') computer. Dani Burlison shares her aborted plan to bribe her daughter to not kiss a boy until she is eighteen. There are several contributors who share their experiences with open and polyamorous relationships as well as an interview with Chris White, Director of Education at the National Institute of Human Sexuality (SF State University). I've never read a parenting guide quite like this, in fact, I've never read a parenting guide (I'm not a parent), but this one definitely speaks to a very specific audience about a very universal topic.



Bipedal, By Pedal #2BIPEDAL, BY PEDAL
Joe Biel (Cantankerous Titles)
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, zinemaker, Joe Biel, was able to obtain Portland Police documents detailing that department's efforts to monitor and contain (and eventually help end) Portland's Critical Mass movement. While some of the documents are merely beauracratic interoffice memos, it's an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of the police. The charge leveled at the cops in this instance is that of spying—the department used undercover officers to infiltrate rally planning meetings to gather information on these supposed "Anarchist" cyclists. While that certainly seems like overkill, it is apparently entirely legal. While this zine highlights the heavy handedness of the police department's overreaction, there's the implication (which is more than implied but alleged in the accompanying press sheet) that Portland Critical Mass was "brutally torn down" by the PPD. This would seem to suggest that the Portland Police Department is something akin to the KGB or the Stasi or their contemporaries in modern day dictatorships. Maybe this is a result of what's going on in the world in 2011, but I personally was not persuaded that the police actions rose to the level of brutality. I'm sure Libyans would love these sorts of problems, but I don't live in Libya and I don't live in Portland and I've got my own CPD to watch out for. It should be mentioned that some of the documents featured in this zine are presented in Mad Lib form in an effort to get people to start reading by having a little fun with the subject, but overall I found that less interesting than the actual memos themselves.


Chicago RockerCHICAGO ROCKER NEWSLETTER #102
(ChicagoRocker.com)
I debated whether or not to review this magazine because I knew I was almost surely going to make fun of it from the moment I saw it laying in the foyer of the Old Town School of Folk Music. And why not? It's dedicated, almost entirely, to cover bands that play predominately in the suburbs. The bars and clubs that advertise herein, look like horrible places where douche bags congregate to do Jager Bombs and shake their fists at the even bigger d. bags on stage who are costumed as some of the worst dinosaur rock musicians I hated enough the first time around. But who am I to judge and what right do I have to do so? These are just my own biases and prejudices and I would have to be an even bigger a-hole to put down other people for their tastes in music regardless of how much fun it is and how much pure joy and pleasure it would give me to do such. That said, this newsletter, which has been in circulation since 1988, is basically the Maximumrocknroll for suburban cover band coverage. The dual cover features The Lounge Puppets (80s Hair Band Tribute) on one side and Petty Profits (Tom Petty Tribute) on the flip and there are interviews/articles on these bands inside. There's also the "Street Talk News & Views" column by Rock Princess Christine Perry which has tidbits on various area bands. (For example, UFO tribute band, Lights Out Chicago, has a new frontman.) The cover band concept has always been an intriguing phenomenon and apparently it will never leave the burbs ever, ever, ever. Many of the groups that these cover bands are paying tribute to are still schlepping around the country playing to the die-hards at county fairs and such, but I guess people still want to hear their favorite songs live regardless of who is performing them.

I guess. I really don't understand it actually.

The most mindblowing revelation I received from the Chicago Rocker was an ad for Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill and their "Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade Afterparty" show in which Jackyl featuring DMC (from Run DMC) was performing. That's Jackyl featuring DMC. Let that sink in. I bet Tailgaters was packed that night. Probably sold a lot of Jager Bombs.

Oh, and if you have any rock questions, ask this Rocker.


Book BinderyTHE BOOK BINDERY
Sarah Royal
(Microcosm)
This small bound book is about book bindery. It’s a collection of the zine of the same name and documents Sarah Royal’s time in Chicago working at a west side book bindery. Not the romantic environs one might picture of artisans lovingly assembling classics of literature, or producing the cutting edge in experimental fiction, but rather the binding of mind-numbing law publications. However, the characters and everyday situations Sarah encounters during her seemingly menial occupation provide the grist for some compelling tales of deranged bosses, delusional co-workers and destitute hood rats. Sarah also befriends a few commuters on the 55 bus which make for additional character studies. Every work place is a microcosm populated with odd players and the book bindery is certainly no exception.

Lumpen #115LUMPEN #115
(Lumpen)
Issue number one hundred and fifteen for this staple of Chicago independent publications. Seems like Lumpen is getting back up to the tabloid size of its humble beginnings as the Lumpen Times back in the early 90s. I’m going to go ahead and say that, fluctuations in size and title withstanding, not much has changed with the magazine. What has changed, however, is that the twenty plus year gentrification of Wicker Park has finally been completed and Edmar and crew have long since left the north side for Bridgeport, "Neighborhood of the Future." Still free where you can find it and still an impressive effort for this left-leaning quarterly. Articles and commentary in this issue include "Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs" by William Upski Wimsatt; "Third World America, Here We Come" by Democracy Now!; "Our Water is Not for Sale" by Abigal Singer plus comics and reviews.


Roctober no. 48ROCTOBER #48
(Roctober.com)
Roctober is another publication in the line of long-running Chicago zines. As action-packed as ever, Roctober hasn’t changed much in its almost twenty-year reign as the preeminent rag and resource for all things rock and roll. Issue number forty-eight, like it’s predecessors, is chock full of dynamic greatness and filled to the margins with rockness. Roctober switched to a half and half zine format with the back half (or is it the front half?) featuring comics, including a twenty-page “Gumballhead the Cat” and the usual suspects “Punk’n’Head” and the slow moving “Rockin’ Ace”. The front half (or is it the back half?) is where you'll find interviews and assorted articles. This time around we get the goods on White Sox organist Nancy Faust; Chicago Soul singer, Hellen Wooten; the umpteenth but always entertaining Nardwuar/Snoop Dog hookup; an article on Cleveland legends, Easter Monkeys, and Larry Pig Gold chats with one-time Dee Dee Ramone wife, Vera Ramone King. But wait there’s more in the from of a shizzle load of record, CD, book and comic reviews. All this for the incredibly low price of four friggin’ clams!!!!

Read the Reglar Wiglar interview with Roctober's Jake Austen!


THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE COMMUNIST JELL-O BOX
Mia Partlow & Michael Hoerger

(Microcosm)
During the trial of soon-to-be convicted (and executed) Soviet spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, much credence was given to the fact that a Jell-O box, torn in half, was used as a way for the accused conspirators to recognize one another for clandestine meetings. If the two pieces fit, then ba-da-boom; fellow spy. The fact that all this went down during the Red Scare gives some credence to the opinion that this was merely a show trial and a thinly-veiled public relations campaign to assure the American public that the U.S. was on top of the Soviet espionage situation. The authors of this poster-sized zine suggest that "Leftists should be as unsure of the Rosenberg's guilt as they are sure that the trial was used to deploy public sentiment against the left." While the punishment may not have fit the crime, I don't see the benefit of being unsure of their guilt or innocence and this publication is not the best place to become educated on the subject.

Being the first, last and only convicted spies executed in U.S. history certainly suggests that hysteria and paranoia reigned supreme during 1950's Cold War America. Of this there is no question. The intent of this publication, I suppose, is to point out the absurdity of the prosecution (read the political Right) convicting the Rosenberg (read political Left, I guess) with such an iconic American product as Jell-0 brand gelatin. Like a good zine, it got me thinking, but further research will have to wait until I finish the rest of these gol' dern zine reviews.


HOW TO MAKE SOAP
Without Burning Your Face Off

Raleigh Briggs
(Microcosm)
I gotta admit, up until a few days ago, I didn’t know squat about saponification. Hell, I didn't even know what saponification meant (it means soap makin'). Then I saw this zine on how to make soap and it got me thinking. I thought, wow that’s cool, I could make my own soap. Seems relatively easy too—not like rebuilding the transmission on a 1969 Chevy Nova or nuthin'. Then I thought, what am I nuts? I am never, ever, never gonna make soap. I don’t even use soap! But if I do get the urge to lather up someday and I want to use my own homemade brand of soapy suds, then I have this informative, easy to follow, entertaining and funny guide to help me through the process AND I won't burn my face off. Bonus! It all reminds me of a story about this guy who didn't bath for a whole year.


A GUIDE TO PICKING LOCKS #2
Crimethinc
(Microcosm)

I would be a bold-faced, dirty, rotten liar if I even pretended that I read this whole zine (or even one-third of it), but believe me, I get the gist. This is a guide to picking locks, like the title accurately suggests. If you want to learn how to bybass all manner of security mechanisms (for good and not evil, of course) then this guide will be incredibly helpful. The reason I personally could not “feel” or "get with" this zine isn't because I have no practical use for the information—hell, we’ve all been unfairly locked out of something at some point or another—but I don't possess the mechanical aptitude that's required to put any of these tutorials into practice. In fact, reading about how things work makes my brain achey. I could watch a tv show about it, however. That’s just my brain though, which shouldn't take away from the work and research that went into writing this handy guide, so read it... but don't pick my locks, please.


Mad Magazine #505MAD MAGAZINE #505
(DC Comics)
MAD Magazine was a huge influence on me as a kid, and not just an influence, but an inspiration as well. It inspired me to make my very first magazine, Crazy, when I was ten years old. Of course I soon discovered that Crazy Magazine already existed in the form of an inferior MAD-style parody rag, but I hardly cared about copyright infringement at that point. I also remember buying a copy of MAD at a grocery store in the very early eighties when a former teacher of mine was in line ahead of me. When he saw what I was spending my 75¢ on he feigned disapproval. "That stuff will rot your brain," he said. That was exactly what he was supposed to say! As an adult and an authority figure, that was the reaction MAD Magazine was intended to elicit. He knew it and was happy to play his part.

I've checked in with MAD Magazine over the years. I like to see what technological advances Spy vs. Spy have made. I even got a subscription a few years back. There have been a few changes in recent years of course. Being bought by Time Warner was a big one. With Time Warner's acquisition came full color and advertisements. The tone and content, however, has stayed much the same, relatively speaking, and some of the old gang of idiots are still representin'. Al Jaffee still provides the "Mad Fold-in" for the back cover and Sergio Aragonés is still filling in the margins with his drawings as well as contributing "A MAD look at Racial Profiling." Yep, MAD still manages to stick it to politicians, your teachers, your parents, your favorite celebrities and all the targets that still deserve it. "Teabagger Proof that Obama is a Terrorist/Socialist" is a good skewing of the current brand of right-wing hypocrisy. Hypocrisy being a problem shared by ALL political parties and politicians as MAD would be the first to point out. Of course the important gross out factor is still in play throughout the publication. Gotta appeal to your base I suppose.

I can only hope that MAD still influences kids today much like it has for the past fifty-plus years. I don't know what Harvy Kurtzman would think about the current era but I'd like to think he wouldn't be too disgusted with how his magazine has evolved. I'm probably wrong about that though. What, me worry? Bah!


PROOF I EXIST #11
Billy Da Bunny
I bought this zine at Chicago Comics. It's rare that I get to that part of town anymore and my budget for zines and comics (and music and cool stuff in general) has been seriously curtailed in recent times. In fact, I felt like a real shlub browsing for thirty minutes and only spending ten bucks, but that's the reality of "these economic times." At one buck though this zine was priced right. It wasn't until I was riding the train home and had gotten halfway through Proof I Exist that I realized that I had heard of this perzine before and that I actually know the publisher, Billy, from his days running Loop Distro. I think my band even played a house show at his crib (The Control Room) back in the dizzily day. You are to please excuse the digression, but it actually keeps in check with theme of PEI #11: it's about looking back. Typed on an old typewriter Billy picked up in Bloomington, IN, this issue or 'slice' of PIE documents Billy's last days in Chicago before his upcoming move to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Any such impending life event is bound to kick up some reminiscin' as it does for Billy, who looks to the past but is excited about the future. Good luck in Santa Fe, Billy. If you know Billy, e-mail him at iknowbilly@gmail.com.


Scam Zine

SCAM
The First Four Issues

(Microcosm)
Even though this four issue anthology of Erick Lyle's Scam zine almost hits the 300 page mark, it's still an abridged version! That's pretty impressive. What makes Scam different from hundreds of other punk rock zines is that its focus was not just on music and it wasn't overtly political either, yet it was entirely political because it served as a guide to living outside society. Scam unabashedly encouraged theft, vagrancy, squatting and vandalism (as well as beer consumption). Scam was to be taken literally and was a part of the punk rock ethos of its creators. Taking what you want and doing what you want to do was central to this. From generator shows and squatting to scamming free copies at Kinkos and dumpster diving, Scam was equal parts how-to and holy-shit-look-what-I-got-away-with-you-can-too.

Scam was a cut-and-paste, handwritten, collage-style publication so unfortunately much of it is difficult to read. I'm sure the thought of transcribing the handwritten text into a more readable type would be considered heresy in the Scam Camp, but it did make for rough going and I couldn't make it through the bulk of it. Maybe that's not a bad thing. Not every article still has relevance or will resonate with every reader. That's true with most zines. I was able to read enough to get a general understanding, however. Enough to recognize Scam's role as an important document of punk rock life in the 90s—a decade that, despite current public sentiment, was full of activism and great music, but is more associated with Grunge, Green Day and lo-fi, than punk rock. That's a common perception that maybe this zine will help change. So keep scammin' kids... but don't scam me, please.


Shut Up & Love the Rain

SHUT UP & LOVE THE RAIN
Robnoxious
(Microcosm)

Zinester, comic artist, blogger and sex-positive queer activist, Robnoxious produced this zine/comic hybrid that deals with his path towards discovering his sexuality. From childhood experimental encounters through his first homo- and heterosexual experiences, Rob presents a pretty straightforward, honest assessment of his evolution into what he calls a "uber-healthy queerness". Rob also gives his own definition of what "queer" means to him, which is basically whatever he wants it to mean. Shut Up & Love the Rain also features an interview Rob conducted with his parents about his father's coming out as transgendered. Heavy, right? You would think, but many times in these situations there is more collective relief than anger or confusion and that seems to be the case with Rob and his family. Just goes to show that a little honesty and communication can go a fuck of a long way in resolving any difficult situation.


XD #26 coverXEROGRAPHY DEBT #26
(Microcosm) (Leeking Inc.)
As Davida explains in the "Basic Stuff You Should Know" section, XD is a hybrid of a review zine and a personal zine. As such, this issue like its predecessors, features columns concerning the writers' personal relationships to zines and self-publishing, and then of course there are the reviews. This issue features reviews by Clint Johns who was the zine buyer at Tower Records. It was Clint, in fact, who agreed to carry the Reglar Wiglar zine back in the early aughts, which I will always be grateful. Microcosm founder Joel Biel also contributes a column and some reviews as well. Still a great resource to find out who's doing what from publishing vets to upstarts.


From RW 1.3

13 YEARS OF GOOD LUCK
Joel Biel
(Microcosm)

In 2009, Microcosm celebrated thirteen years of existence as an indie distributor and publisher. 13 Years of Good Luck is a greatest hits package of writers and artists whose work has been published by the collective. This 96 pager bursts with first-time reprints, in most cases (Jesse Reklaw, Cindy Crabb, Urban Hermitt and founder Joel Biel) and never-before-published stuff in others (Liz Baillie, Cristy Road, Al Burian). Some of the type is pretty tiny for my tired eyes but the overall package looks great and serves as an overview of what has become—I think it's fair to say—a DIY institution. You can't beat the price either: one buck!


LEARNING GOOD CONSENT
Cindy Crabb
(Microcosm)
Learning Good Consent is more of an educational tool than a zine to be read for entertainment, although any good zine should teach you something. The intent of this zine (issued along with Crabb's publication Support dealing with domestic abuse) is to educate people—gay, straight or bi—on what the boundaries are in sexual relationships in terms of consent. Contained within are various essays of personal experiences by a host of different writers as well as lists of questions designed to help the reader better understand what constitutes sexual consent. No means no always, but other things can mean no as well. Nothing is ever in black and white (ok, the pages of this publication are printed in black and white), and there can be gray areas to consent. Crabb and collaborators seeks to help define those gray areas and hopefully change peoples' attitudes about sex and sexuality.


DORIS #15 Anti-Depression Guide
Cindy Crabb
(Microcosm)
This is a reprint of Cindy Crabb's Doris #15 which serves, it is hoped, as an anti-depression guide. Cindy recommends long walks, day dreaming, remaining active and productive and drinking lots and lots of coffee. I'm sure scientific evidence would back all these claims up, except perhaps the abuse of caffeine. This zine was originally written in "1999 or 2000" according to Cindy's best recollection. Certainly then, as now, chemical remedies were a very popular form of curing depression. Certainly exercise and reconnecting with the outside world can be just as effective, especially for people for whom depression is more environmentally related than a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. But hey, I'm not a doctor, a shrink, a life coach, an Oprah or even your best friend, so don't take my word for it. Do consider reading this zine, however, it could only help you shake those blues.


BURN COLLECTOR #14
Al Burian
(Microcosm)

Burn Collector #14 is a pocket-sized zine containing the further adventures of writer/artist and musician Al Burian. Al spent a few years in Chicago wandering the city, playing in bands, writing, drawing and just trying to survive on the fringe. This issue has Burian confronting such day-to-day struggles as dealing with the Chicago Transit Authority—talk about a character builder. There are ruminations on cycling in a bike-hostile city and the appeal of street musicians and house shows over concerts in more traditional venues (bars, clubs, etc.). There’s also a treatise of sorts in the form of rebuttal to "The Future of Comics", a 1997 article by artist Dan Clowes that appeared in his Eightball #8 comic.

Comics are a theme in BC#14, in fact. Burian's drawings appear throughout the issue. There are assorted sketches and one panel strips as well as a parody of a Jack Chick religious tract that just gets flat-out weird by the end. A good read for riding the CTA, which is about to get a whole lot suckier with their new service cuts this February. Fuckin' CTA.


UNEMPLOYMENT
Aaron Lake Smith
(Microcosm)
Zine writer Aaron Lake-Smith (Big Hands) finds himself unemployed in this one-off issue of Unemployment. Over the course of seven chapters, Aaron contemplates the paradox of his situation (What's better? Free-time, but no money; money, but no free-time) as well as the age-old question of how to survive as an artist in a society that makes that pursuit extremely difficult. Aaron also wishes he could enjoy just one day of unemployment without the nagging dread of what the future may hold. He almost takes a job as a data entry temp but holds out unsuccessfully for more money, unwilling to rationalize working for less than he believes he's worth. Unfortunately, in this economy we're worth what someone is willing to pay us and nothing more.

Chapter Six takes a different track with a musing on the Greensboro, SC publishing collective, Crimethink, and Chapter Seven contemplates the crumbling of the American Empire. Whatever the future holds, Unemployment is a snapshot of a time that is (hopefully!) almost over for all of us.


XEROGRAPHY DEBT #25
(Leeking Inc.)
It warms one's heart cockles to see a zine like Xerography Debt still being published. It warms the ventricles of one's heart to see any zine being published period, especially one that supports other zines like XD does. Yes, this is a review zine with "perzine tendencies" that still firmly supports independent publishing and the underground press. Many zine publishers have ceased publishing in recent years, some of those finding refuge in electronic media (like the Reglar Wiglar) while others giving up the ghost of print completely. Not so with Davida Gypsy Breier. In fact, this issue looks better than ever with a great cover and clean well designed, easy to read copy. So, viva la zine!


©1993-2017 Reglar Wiglar Magazine