Monday, December 30, 2013

Two Zines from Luna Blue Art Collective

I originally read Chris Bird's parable The Sea Books in Whistle Zine #2. Here the story is contained within a stand-alone mini zine with dark pen & ink illustrations. Nothing detracts from the central mystery of this story - a surreal time and space where books wash ashore, changing the lives of people in a seaside village forever. Captivating prose.

A Little Zine Called Love is a mini zine from Fall 2012. It visually tells the story of hoe Annie changes the downward spiral of negativity into love with some balloons and zines. I like that National Public Radio plays a central role in this narrative. Exquisite, with a much needed moral.

A lot of heart & creativity goes into these projects. I'm not sure where to obtain either of these zines. Check online at

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Zine Review: Basic Paper Airplane #7

Basic Paper Airplane #7
Joshua James Amberson
32 pages / ¼ size

Every issue I've read of Basic Paper Airplane feels like a cause for celebration. Each has its unique thread, its own story to tell. Joshua is such a friendly guide into his thoughts and world, its like reading a letter from a far-away friend.

I am alternately suspicious of and yet admire people who seem to have their lives “figured out.” Of course, we need to be aware of and comfortable with our true natures, our core selves. Yet we are always evolving, maturing, growing, changing. That’s the adventure of life. Basic Paper Airplane #7 explores not having it all figured out, and that’s just fine.

Joshua tells stories of trying to create art, making zines as a kid, reading a sixth grade essay in front of an audience, and more. Basic Paper Airplane flows like a stream of consciousness. Dive in. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Paper and Ink #1

Paper and Ink Volume One:
Broken Hearts and Broken Bottles

Martin Appleby’s introductory notes to Paper and Ink were music to my ears. He talks about his love for paper zines and wanting to create a physical publication in an age when e-books are outselling traditional books. Martin writes “Maybe the printed word is doomed and I am fighting a losing battle, but maybe … just maybe there are still some people out there that will appreciate good old fashioned words, on paper, printed in ink.” Indeed, Martin, some of us are still out here on the edge of the papernet, sharpening pencils, dipping fountain pens into inkwells, applying postage stamps to real letters. There is hope. There is more than hope.

Martin has assembled an impressive group of creative writers in Paper and Ink Volume One, all thematically weaving narratives of loss and heartache. The zine’s opening piece, a punk romance by Chris Eng, is well written but the characters have cloudy intentions, spending one last night together before parting ways. William James lifts the quality bar a notch with his poem titled “Kids Like Us Will Be Alone Forever” & the zine hits its emotional stride with a brief but powerful poem by Martin. Anthony Macina’s The Breeze is an intense and beautifully realized short fiction. Then … the issue is over, all too brief.

The debut of Paper and Ink holds much promise and shows Martin’s strength in choreographing the zine’s literary dance. I’m looking forward to issue two and hopefully, beyond. On paper. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chapbook Review: Ghosts I Have Seen (Chapter IV)

Ghosts I Have Seen by Violet Tweedale
Chapter IV: East End Days & Night
Design: Joseph Carlough
Illustrations: Alyssa San Valentine

I believe this is the second volume of Violet Tweedale’s memoire that Joseph and collaborators have reproduced from the original book which was published in 1919 (the year my parents were born!).

Ghosts I Have Seen is a gorgeously produced chapbook. Violet Tweedale discusses religion and spirituality, Madame Blavatsky, and curious phenomena within these pages. She approached life with an open mind and audacious spirit, and chronicled her experiences via flourishes of nimble prose.  Though San Valentine’s childlike artwork seems oddly incongruent juxtaposed with the substance of Tweedale’s writing, I highly recommend this chapbook.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Zine review: Red Kitty Issue One

Red Kitty Issue One

The whimsical, colorful cover of this zine enticed me to investigate further. In the 1990s I published two literary journals / magazines / whatever you wish to call them, yet fiction, poetry and creative writing have been relegated to the back pages of my reading list in the past few years. I decided to take a chance on Red Kitty – probably because it is bound with red thread. This issue features some simplistic yet effective artwork and accessible, well crafted writing. I was pleased to see the inclusion of John Grey who I published back in the day. Red Kitty Issue One is a solid debut effort.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect #66

Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect #66
Justin Duerr
PO Box 13312
Philadelphia PA 19101

The creator of this zine surely had a different childhood than mine! Justin Duerr chronicles the first 15 years of his life in this full-sized, surreal, Dadaist memoir. Justin’s unique visual and narrative style draw readers into his early life story in absorbing tales of haunted closets, mysterious art, fantails, shortwave number stations, dubbing cassettes, cake decorating and more as he grows into an adolescent. Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect #66 is unparalleled and wondrous, and I am grateful that Justin is sharing his journey with us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Maudlin Sound 1 & 2

The Maudlin Sound 1 & 2
20 pages / quarter size

Here are two beautiful chapbooks printed on quality paper featuring snippets of narrative by E. Blake from Exeter UK. At first the brief bursts of prose seem random but soon start to take shape and flow. Blake’s use of language is both sparse and poetic, minimalist in the best sense: painting sketches and scenes, internal emotions and external space, with an economy of words. Some of these vignettes are interconnected, some seem to stand alone, all seem to leave a thought or image dangling like an unfinished conversation - dreamlike in some passages, vivid in others, wrapped in the absence of a ticking clock, the spinning of a turntable, or the slow descent of light.