Monday, January 28, 2013

Zine Review: Basic Paper Airplane #6

Basic Paper Airplane #6
36 pages / half letter / $3

 There are points in time when our lives change and shift direction – some are quiet and only dawn in our awareness years later, others are apocryphal but clearly seared into our consciousness as they are unfolding. Basic Paper Airplane #6 is a meditation on these moments of recognition, divergent paths, new starts.

The year has barely begun & already I have read a zine that reminds me of why I love the format of zines, the discovery and senses that they awaken. Joshua James Amberson’s writing draws the reader through the fog of memories into the clarity of internal contemplation. Most of these vignettes are deeply personal – about the intensity of childhood, the veil lifted from relationships, the mythologies and meanings we construct every day. Some of my favorite pieces in Basic Paper Airplane #6 center around historical figures and Joshua’s glimpses into their biographies: Gertrude Stein, Edward Muybridge, Orville and Wilbur Wright – all pioneers with vision and fortitude.

All of the ingredients in Basic Paper Airplane #6 flow perfectly together – graphics, concepts, wordcraft. One read-through captures the mood, and the next starts revealing intricate details and emotional nuances. This is a work of art & literature to be revisited. Often.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Zine Review: Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast for Dinner #2
26 pages / half-letter / $3
Marc Parker
5307 N. Minnesota Ave
Portland OR 97217

“Perzines” are a slippery territory for me as a reviewer. They are so subjective, and the writer is sharing their personal insights and perspectives, so almost impossible to critique reasonably. It is with some trepidation that I write about perzines to begin with, possibly only because I’m starting to write perzines myself after decades of content based zines or literary journals.

Breakfast for Dinner #2 is a sheer joy to read. The comics are crisp, alternating with typewritten pages in which Marc chronicles his life. Marc discusses personal experiences with depression in a matter-of-fact way, which (in my opinion) is the best approach to managing and recovering from depression’s debilitating effects. There is more about relationships, conversations, and zines and … dogs! Beautiful and appetizing (ok, pun intended) zine. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Zine Review: Sasquatch

20 pages / $1.50

This is the reason  fanzines exist – to delve into a topic of interest that someone (maybe you!) enjoys, obsesses over, lives breathes and sleeps, or maybe just visits occasionally. Sasquatch is a classic cut & paste zine using cool graphics, a typewriter and handwriting. In Sasquatch, Jenn shares some background on the mythical creature, then treats the reader to reviews of a dozen or so films (B-movies and documentaries) with Bigfoot as the central theme / character. Along the way, words are misspelled, writing gets clipped off the page, some of it is too dark to read, all of which adds to this zine’s enigmatic charm. A copy might be found at SweetCandyDistro. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Zine Review: Digital Denial

Dandy Denial
PO Box 226
Irvine, Alberta
TOJ 1VO   Canada

Coffee seems to be the universal beverage of the past century or so (and corporations are raking in fortunes). I've read several zines with coffee themes but Digital Denial stands out as a celebration of analogue photography & the artist's eye for everyday beauty. There are also a couple of brief prose pieces that draw the reader into a scenario with just a few dozen words. When enjoying this zine, caffeine is optional.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Zine Review: Samurai Dreams #6

Samurai Dreams #6
60 Fairgrounds Road
Cummington MA 01026

Observant writing related to B-Movies from the past few decades written by a crew of film enthusiasts. If you are a MST3K or Cinematic Titanic fan (like me) or just love exploring the weird side of cinema, this zine may be perfect for your reading list. In addition to in-depth reviews, there are three fake reviews (kind of like the “bluff the listener” segment of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me). I think I’ve spotted two of them, but I am hoping that Daughter Snake: The Short Films of Felice Carpenter actually exists … it sounds like the type of treasure that VHS crate diggers would salivate over. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zine Review: MonkeyMask Hot Jupiters

Monkey Mask Hot Jupiters
20 pages / $4

Zines that delve this deeply into the psyche, into hope, into creating a new culture, resonate right down into my soul. The opening paragraph reads “When I close my eyes, I see white flashes. This place has toxified my life. There is a slow burn that is regenerative, but there comes a point where the burn is deep, destructive.”

Powerful words. The issue goes on to reveal the author’s travels, inner growth, beliefs, philosophies, musings. The overall tone is one of quest and questioning, and reaffirming that which heals us. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Journal of Ordinary Thought Spring 2012

The Journal of Ordinary Thought
Spring 2012
$25 / 3 issues
Neighborhood Writing Alliance
1313 East 60th Street
Chicago IL 60637

This journal is obviously well funded and not the type of publication that I generally review.

The Journal of Ordinary Thought publishes reflections people make on their personal histories and everyday experiences. It is founded on the concept that that every person is a philosopher, expressing one's thoughts fosters creativity and change, and taking control of life requires people to think about the world and communicate their thoughts to others. 

This is a perfect-bound, Chicago-centric literary journal of poetry and prose organized loosely around the themes of “freedom” and “liberation”. The Journal of Ordinary Thought includes exquisite black and white illustrations from the L is for Liberation Collective. The writing within feels accessible and genuine, none of it forced or pretentious. The most powerful piece that stood out is “The Don’t Die Code” by Claire Bartlett, who writes “I’m just trying to keep you from getting killed.”  Helena Marie Carnes-Jeffries also hits deep pockets of childhood realities with her poem “I Was a Packaged Child”. It’s refreshing to read literature / philosophy by everyday folk instead of the workshopped writing by the pantheon of ivory tower academians who believe it is their role to carry the torch of proper literary merit for the rest of us earthlings.

I hope you understood that sentence. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Comic Review: The Disappearance of Gordon Page Jr.

The Disappearance of Gordon Page Jr.
by Robert Hendricks
digest / 10 pages / $1

Unexplained and unsolved disappearances fascinate me. How do people just vanish? Why? Where do they go to? Sadly, I suspect that the reality is that many people who go missing meet with "foul play". Yet even in the age of ultra surveillance (Big Brother is Everywhere) people still go missing of their own volition and never look back.

Robert Hendricks has drawn / narrated a true story of a (possibly) autistic young man who vanished from a residential treatment group home in Michigan.This comic is brief but powerful, giving us glimpses into Gordie Page's life, and the mystery of his vanishing.

We may never know what happened to Gordon Page Jr.and thousand of others. And that is a travesty.

Parcel Ghost

Check out this zine! Seems perfect for grade school or middle school kids (or anyone) who needs an introduction to the mail system.