Abstract Door #1 / $2.00 / 20g
Twenty-five years old and in the midst of an existential crisis – this is a great time to make a zine! Vicky Lim writes first about the anxiety and stress of job-searching and the transition out of student life, which quickly turns into an essay on her relationship with her mother. These are things that I’m sure many people think about, and Vicky writes them in a way that is engaging and a little bit magical. I’m particularly struck by the moment where she describes acquiring a brass key on a necklace at a Jens Lekman show (“the opposite of an abstinence ring, he said, but in a non-sexual way.”), the confession of guilt over buying expensive lunches knowing that when her parents arrived in the United States, they did it with literally only the clothes they were wearing, and the fact that she includes footnotes in a zine that is only the size of 1/8 of a page. The last page is taken entirely by an Anaïs Nin quote on the age of twenty-five, and this is the moment my heart was won over entirely. An excerpt from the zine: “At first I tried to escape the titles of ‘receptionist’ and ‘secretary’. I was afraid of being typecasted as this quiet, boring female who did menial work. I knew it was menial because my friend who had a similar job in another department would call it that. And as if my mother were training me for this type of job, she gave me a lesson book when I was nine on how to type without looking, which I practiced on my small, brown typewriter until I reached over ninety words-per-minute. That was the same time I followed my mom to work for ‘Take Your Daughter To Work Day’ and her cubicle was sooo boring. I watched her ‘do paperwork’ (she’s an accounting clerk). I melted in the swivel chair. I wanted to see what my dad did, but we never talked about him being a custodian.”
Abstract Door #2 / $2.00 / 20g
One thing I like about zines is that they inspire me to sit back and reflect on my own life, whether they help me to question, challenge, and develop my politics, to reconsider the role of various friendships and relationships in my life, or just provoke me to continue writing. This issue of Abstract Door makes me think about my material possessions – what they mean to me and what they say about me. Vicky begins by describing her bedroom in simple detail, from the view upon entrance to the items on her nightstand and windowsills. First impression would tell you that she’s an avid reader and a bit of a pop culture nerd, but it doesn’t take long to learn more through descriptions of her earliest memories, and the time she nearly moved into a closet, mostly to escape her sterile home and the feeling/appearance of being sheltered. There is a subtle vulnerability in this issue, which I’m very into. Beyond that, I think the activity of describing one’s home and material possessions makes for an excellent writing prompt. (What the two of us have in common is a collection of Anaïs Nin’s journals and an OkCupid account).
Abstract Door #5 / $3.00 / 15g
I am consistently amazed not only by Vicky’s writing, but by the sheer amount of handiwork she puts into every one of her zines. Each zine has an individually blockprinted cover, with a door opening to her stories – this issue has covers modeled after the doors to the Chicago Transit Authority’s trains, and opens to full-colour pages with stories written entirely while on the CTA. This is a love letter to Chicago, from skipping school to traverse the city by bus as a teen, to attending 2015’s INCITE! Color of Violence conference, and includes a hand-drawn map to her favourite bookstores and brunch spots. The themes here are community and home, and I totally love Vicky’s writing, which can feel at times serious and vulnerable, and other times just plain silly. Like a letter from a friend.
“To this day, you did not believe you were a writer or someone who creates, even as you know you have this desire. Now it seems so basic to announce, but the epiphany is that it is exactly like a crush. You are drawn to writing, you want to be near it, to do it, so as the desire pushes you forward, the doubt pulls you back. You only wish for this exposure to be double-sided.”
All I Want Is Everything #2 / $2.50 / 50g
In this issue, Caitlin takes us across the United States with her partner and their love of running. Participating in marathons and exploring New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and more, we are treated to something of a travel journal as well as a portrait of both the breathtaking and grotesque sites of America. Caitlin’s talent for writing and enthusiasm for life are refreshing and inspiring.
Anarchism & Hope / $6.00 / 55g
Any zine with a picture of Godspeed You! Black Emperor on the first (okay, third) page is bound to win me over (it is also bound with staples SEE WHAT I DID THERE). But whether or not that means anything to you, this zine is both beautiful (half-legal pages with a screenprinted cover and crisp photographs throughout) and an excellent read. Aaron writes about continuing to feel hopeful in the face of despair – a specific kind of despair, the kind that comes from resisting capitalism, witnessing / experiencing police brutality, and working toward a more just world. We begin in the aftermath of the G20 in Toronto, and follow Aaron through his tales of hope – a friend successfully fighting deportation, resistance of Israeli occupation forces in Palestine, and the student strike in Québec in 2012. For those into personal writing on political struggles.
Arcane #4 / $2.00 / 30g
Description to come.
The Barf Zine / $2.00 / 110g
If you can get past the unfortunate title of this zine, you’ll find interviews with four different people about their histories (and current struggles) with disordered eating, including questions on politics, gender identity, relationships, and more. For the second half of this zine, the interviewer turns the questions back to herself. It’s quite a substantial read at just over sixty pages, and while I definitely feel like it’s an important one, I hope that future issues will contain a wider range of contributors. Maybe this zine could be to people who struggle with disordered eating what Filling The Void is to people with histories of addiction.
La Bola De Cristal #1 / $2.00 / 40g
Description to come.
La Bola De Cristal #2 / $2.00 / 50g
Description to come.
La Bola De Cristal #3 / $2.00 / 20g
Description to come.
The Collected Scathings Of Ioana Poprowka / $2.00 / 30g
This is a collection of writing by a pseudonymous trans woman who wrote a column on transgender issues for The Skinny magazine from 2006-2008. Her general focus is the representation of trans women in mainstream media and pop culture, for example, critiques of trans characters on Coronation Street and Friends and in various films, the reception of trans Eurovision winner Dana International, etc., and then some personal writing on issues of sexual identity, “passing”, and more. It’s a concise read that I’d recommend to anyone interested in pop culture, but I’ll note that although 2008 doesn’t seem like that long ago, there’s some language that I’d consider outdated – then again, maybe that’s not up to me.
Critical Breakfast #1 / Telegram #38 / $3.00 / 20g
My twin & I made a split zine together! Telegram #38 by Maranda Elizabeth is about their Return of Saturn and turning thirty, learning how to interpret their birth chart, astrology as a method of self-exploration & healing, reconnecting with their past selves and memories of being a teenage witch, practicing Tarot in daily life, lost time, friendship & jealousy, fragmentation, learning how to love themself, and recovery with trauma and chronic pain. / Critical Breakfast #1 by Amber Dearest is about her Saturn return, synchronicity, a bad landlord, working as a lab rat, sobriety, learning to build self-confidence, and an auspicious Tarot reading.
Critical Breakfast #2 / $1.00 / 10g
Every year, I do a Fun-A-Day project to pass the time and have something to look forward to during the winter. For 2016, I decided to track as many photobooths in Montreal as I could – which turned into a bigger project of visiting every metro station in the city, and poking around malls in the early mornings before there’s much of a crowd. In the end, I tracked the remaining analog booths (which are rapidly disappearing – at least three gone in the months before I began the project), and the various digital booths that exist. This is a tiny little zine about my love of photobooths, and winter survival in general, and contains a fold-out map of the Montreal metro system that shows every photobooth I found, and a few fun resources. Recommended if you live in Montreal, or are planning on visiting.
Deafula #6 / $2.00 / 35g
In this issue, Kerri writes about going on a zine tour with a few pals. First they meet up with a tourmate in DC, then they make their way to various radical bookstores and punk houses en route to the Chicago Zine Fest. From there, she tables at the zinefest and participates in a panel on health and disability in zine writing – which I was present for and can assure you was great. Here’s a transcript. If you’ve ever gone on tour, you’ll probably be able to relate to some snippets of this zine, and you’ll be cheering Kerri on as she gets more and more confident in her readings. She also writes about the frustrations of missing out on conversations and feeling left out, being the sole deaf person in a car full of hearing people. Communication is key in all relationships, and I appreciated reading about the highs and lows in this situation.
Dig Deep #2 / $1.00 / 20g
The first issue of Dig Deep was one of the most sweet and thoughtful and interesting zines I read all of last year and this second issue does not disappoint. It’s slightly smaller than quarter-size (my math skills, or lack thereof, get the best of me in these kindsa descriptions) and Heather writes about things like an impromptu trip with a friend to England and France (making me relive my own wonderful memories of those countries), and includes a piece on her oldest t-shirt. Perhaps the most moving and thought-provoking is a piece on street harassment, documenting not only the ways that men have catcalled and even followed her home, but also the way this made her feel and how she changed her habits because of it (which, obviously, we shouldn’t have to do). This is countered with an empowering piece on a monthly women-only dance night that happens in Chicago and her experience with attending for the first time. “No boys, no booze, no judgement.” This is an all-around excellent perzine and I’m sure many people can get something out of it, be that a lesson, a book recommendation or a reminder of memories past.
Dig Deep #3 / Your Secretary #10 / $2.00 / 30g
A split zine by two of my favourite zinesters! Heather and Jami each write about being librarians, but have very unique voices. Jami can offer deadpan sarcasm and bittersweet tales where Heather writes lighthearted amusing anecdotes and heartfelt tales and lists. Both sides have moments that can be laugh-out-loud funny, charming… or anger-inducing (the things dudes do in libraries!). Heather writes about libraries as a safe space, creating a zine collection, and working with teens. Jami writes about leaving Detroit, working in a zoo library, and teaching people how to use the internet. She also shares tidbits about all the libraries she’s known. This is a really sweet and fun read.
Dig Deep #4 / $1.00 / 20g
I love Heather and I love Dig Deep! This is a pocket-size zine, all sweet and texty, about friendship – like the friend she’s had since they were born sixteen days apart, to the rad zine community in her city – and projects – like participating in Fun-A-Day and co-organizing the Chicago Zine Fest. Such a good read, the kinda zine that’ll make you write a letter to everyone you know, just to tell them you love them.
Dig Deep #5 / $1.00 / 15g
Heather and her way with words! The writing in this zine simple yet profound, with the barebones layout acting as a perfectly stark contrast to the emotion contained within. Never has a phrase as plain-jane as, “I felt good,” held so much meaning. Heather documents an eight-day zine tour which led herself and three friends from Chicago to DC, reading their zines aloud in backyards, houses, and bookstores along the way. What she couldn’t have known though, is that she’d receive devastating news from home halfway through the trip. Essentially, this is a tale of how important it is to face one’s fears, to value true friendship, and to appreciate the coincidences and little things in life.
Dig Deep #6 / $1.00 / 20g
Sometimes people approach my table at zinefests and ask, “Do you have any cheerful zines?” and I always hand them a copy of Dig Deep. Some running themes are friendship, growing up and creating a meaningful life, and maintaining a positive mental attitude. Out on time for the fifth annual Chicago Zine Fest, this is the sixth issue of Dig Deep – written over the course of the winter and documenting the past year of Heather’s life. She writes about the manifold ways that attending (and becoming a co-organizer for) the Chicago Zine Fest has changed her life, the eternal struggle to balance creative pursuits and social activities and alone time, a response to Inspirado (a zine about art and inspiration), a personally satisfying reaction to street harassment, and the discovery of a 66-page typewritten family history by her grandmother. It’s been fifteen years since Heather made her first zine, and she has got it down.
Dig Deep #7 / Tongueswell #3 / $2.00 / 20g
A common theme in past issues of Dig Deep is street harassment, and it comes up again here, as Heather recounts how the resulting fear has affected her to the point of avoiding being alone in public. This past summer, inspired by a friend, she began training to run a half-marathon – and of course had to learn to be able to run… alone… outdoors. She writes about the mental and physical processes of training, gaining both the physical strength and the self-confidence to exist alone in public, and does it in a way that is just so affirming and rad. In Tongueswell, Jen writes about another experience that can be common for women: working in the service industry. Dealing with entitled jerks, coming up with jokes and songs with her co-workers just to make it through the day. She uses an instance of overhearing a customer on the phone talking someone through the process of putting down a pet to tell the story of the adoption and eventual death of her own beloved cat. I love the way she weaves these stories together, and I’m so glad to see these two coming together for a split zine.
Fashion Zine: Coming Out Of The Closet / $2.00 / 50g
This is a really cool zine whose simple title does not say enough about how absolutely perfect Estelle’s writing is. In short, it’s a zine about femme fashion and about coming out as a trans woman, with writing that is powerful and funny and maybe even sometimes leans into the surreal. I’m going to excerpt from the intro here, because she articulates why fashion is so important:
“Maybe I wanted to try and make some really bad jokes in this introduction as an attempt to point to some of the ways that writing a zine about fashion immediately makes me feel bad, ha. There is this general idea that fashion is vapid and vain, or, at its worst, that it is little more than a leisurely pursuit for rich people. To talk about fashion or dress in a crowd often elicits serious groans as if the subject has no political or cultural implications whatsoever. As if fashion somehow exists in a bubble separate from our social world. As if it is not constructed, valued, and informed by the very same power structures which influence all other aspects of our lives. As if nothing is at stake when we speak about fashion or when we dress ourselves. As if it is not a site of both oppression and resistance. As if fashion has nothing to say about bodies, race, gender, sexuality, disability, desirability, or class. As if it has no personal merit. As if one person’s experience wearing clothes is translatable or universal. As if it is not incredibly important to everyone whether you care about fashion trends or not.”
Fergus #30 / Sour Puss #8 / $1.00 / 25g
This is a split zine on the theme of food; one half by Fergus, an omnivore, and the other half by Tee, a vegan who has medical issues that limit the sorts of food she’s able to consume. Each of them kept a food diary for a week, so what we get is an example of the kinda meals they typically eat, filled with stories of the day and memories around food. The side by Fergus sees her at the coffee shop at 6:30 every morning, musing on what it’s like to be a ‘regular’ – in that place where the barista fills your order before you’ve said it aloud, which can be lovely but also strips the writer of the anonymity she desires. She writes about airport food, her newfound interest in vegemite, having her home broken into, and a visit to the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair. Tee writes a lot about childhood and teenage memories around food, the old fear of eating in front of people, and cooking meals for her family. She includes fun vegan recipes for all kindsa stuff, including burritos, basic scrambled tofu, pancakes, banana bread and more. She also recommends really excellent pizza topping combos, like pumpkin and spinach, and caramelized onion, mushroom and artichoke. Yum!
Finale 95 #1 / $2.00 / 20g
I love this zine so much. It’s a perzine that also has the feel of a fanzine – it’s basically about being a weirdo teenager in the suburbs, surviving high school, and being into really sweet punk rock. It’s got funny interviews – like the one with her mother all about why she loves playing Internet Scrabble – plus posi tips, thrift scores, and reviews of all kindsa things. It’s a zine a lotta teenagers might make, but funnier and with way more self-confidence.
Finale 95 #2 / $2.00 / 20g
Every time I read this zine, I wish that I’d been this cool when I was a teenager. Finale 95 could be classified under perzine or punk fanzine, with a healthy dose of humour and weirdness. In this issue, Alanna interviews her friends about growing up in the suburbs and who their dream dates are, makes a comic about a trip to Cuba, reviews a whole bunch of books and albums, and then gets a bit more serious when writing about nostalgia and pop culture, her burgeoning interest in feminism (thanks to reading Shameless – a Canadian magazine for girls and trans youth), and frustration with having her feelings and interests written off as, “That’s something a teenage girl would like.” She says, “Teenage girls are smart and goofy and emotional and serious and mystical and sometimes we really just need someone else to talk to.”
Finale 95 #3 / $2.00 / 20g
This issue marks a turning point for Alanna, where she moves from quirky fanzine to full-on perzine, and it’s appropriately subtitled Bildungsroman I, defined as a “class of novel derived from German literature that deals with the formative years of the main character, whose moral and psychological development is depicted. It typically ends on a positive note, with the hero’s foolish mistakes & painful disappointments behind them.” Contained within are twelve vignettes from her last year of high school, which include going to prom, getting drunk, working in an ice cream parlour, and finally beginning university. Some staples of suburban living in Canada, written with humour and self-awareness – and a winter survival list thrown in for good measure.
Finale 95 #4 / $2.00 / 20g
This issue is brought to you by the letter D for dads, dudes, dates, death, and disillusionment. This time around, we see Alanna continue on to her second year of journalism school in Ottawa, negotiate her “Slutty College Years” and newfound relationships, and triumph over her feelings of disillusionment with punk.
Finale 95 #4.5 / $1.00 / 10g
I really love the layout of this zine, which is folded into the classic quarter-size, but unfolds to reveal a full-size letter printed on pastel papers, complete with heart and flower doodles. Subtitled Wherein Which I Get Dumped & Run Away From Mac DeMarco, this issue ends with Alanna swearing off dating for a season, so you can guess the mood of the zine. I had no idea who Mac DeMarco was before reading this, and I feel like I was better off for it, let’s be real. But I will always be into stories of punk shows and awkward makeouts.
Ghost Pine #13 / $3.00 / 35g
When I first moved to Montreal, I remember looking up at street signs and recognizing the names from stories in Ghost Pine. It’s probably been close to a decade since I started reading Jeff’s zines, and twice that since he started making them. Many of these stories were compiled in Ghost Pine: All Stories True, an anthology released by Invisible Publishing in 2010, and now there’s a new issue of the zine out. He sticks with some of his common themes of punk shows, touring, and friendship, including his first visit to legendary Ottawa punk venue 5 Arlington as a teen, and these are stories that come across as both earnest and self-deprecating. I think it’s great to be able to write about the past without veering too far into sentimentality or cliché. The last half of the zine is dedicated to vignettes of Jeff’s friendship with late artist and rad queer Will Munro (whose artwork graces the cover). We are also treated to a little bit of Jeff’s current life in Montreal, in a piece titled Austerity Blues. Read this zine.
The Happy Loner #4 / $2.00 / 35g
Description to come.
Heavy On The Mayo #2 / $2.00 / 15g
On my kitchen wall hangs a collection of cookzines, and Heavy On The Mayo is the one that gets the most attention from houseguests. Leave it up to Milo (creator of Rumpy Pumpy and Bananarchy Now! and co-founder of the Queer Zine Archive Project) to create this hybrid of a cookzine and fanzine for what I’d say is maybe one of the most polarizing condiments out there – mayonnaise. I love it, though I lean toward Vegenaise products (the chipotle one! ah!). This issue is deliciously weird, with recipes for banananaise and sprayonaise (exactly what they sound like), and the sandwiches and salads that you’ll put ’em on, plus info on the Japanese mayo fansite mayomania.com. Yum yum!
Huffin’ Textas / $4.00 / 75g
Description to come.
If Destroyed Still True #6: Iraqi Kurdistan Edition / $2.00 / 35g
“What makes Kurdistan different from the western environments I’m familiar with? The Peshmerga – Kurdish soldiers – patrolling with rifles, maybe, except I grew up in Northern Ireland so seeing this is not an entirely disorienting experience. Electricity cutting out on a regular basis, which nobody bothers to comment on because it’s too common, they just sit in the dark for a minute and then another generator kicks into action – that is, if they have access to one. Generators running on the street, so noisy it’s hard to hear the conversation you’re having as you walk by countless men standing around in the street seeming to do very little except contemplate the world around them, often while looking very stylish. The call to prayer, a sound I’d missed ever since my first visit to Istanbul. Arabic and Kurdish script, of course. In twelve days I only saw maybe a dozen Iraqi flags, mostly on government buildings or on the approach to Kirkuk, but the Kurdish flag is displayed everywhere, and as flags go, it looks quite friendly: a big yellow sun on a white background, with a horizontal strip of red above and green below. Chai all the time.” With that, Nine begins her hitchhiking stories and an outline of 2011’s protests.
Il y a des bonheurs réservés aux pouçeux / $3.00 / 60g
Ce zine est extra. Élise raconte ses histoires de voyages sur le pouce, à travers le Canada, avec son partenaire. J’ai l’impression que plusieurs zines de voyage contiennent beaucoup de chialâge, – comme par exemple le fait de ne pas être embarqué sur le pouce ou bien de dormir dans une tente qui laisse passer la pluie- mais pas ce zine. Il raconte (presque) uniquement les moments agréables de leur périple. Elle écrit au sujet des chauffeurs et des familles qui les ont aidés à traverser le pays, les paysages bucoliques, et les amusantes conversations qui sont arrivées. Le zine au grand complet est écrit à la main avec grand soin, et est rempli de dessins supers cute. Ça donne envie de voyager.
Infecticitis #15 / $3.00 / 80g
Comet Crowbar completed this zine during her January 2015 stay at the Fight Boredom Zine Residency. She’d expressed interest in doing the residency so that she’d have a chance to be away from both her homes of Berlin, Germany and Boston, MA and have a chance to reflect on where she wants to be, especially as her Saturn Return approaches. There is a whole lot to read here – nearly fifty pages of writing and comics that combine the personal, the political, and the occasionally absurd (like illustrated re-tellings of silly stories we’d shared over the kitchen table), plus a full-colour poster foldout. This zine is informally divided into two halves, with the first half being more personal and the second half being more political. Two major mental blocks are focused on: one of them is “I can’t draw!” which she’s been working ton while reading Lynda Barry’s Syllabus and drawing comics and self-portraits; the other one is “I have nothing to hide!” which is touched on in the second half of the zine, the half about security culture, the NSA, Black Lives Matter, and more. She made a crypto-punk puzzle and a comic how-to on email encryption, and includes a resource list of writing and films by women of colour. She wrote about staging a die-in in support of Black Lives Matter, and later questioning what it means to perform such an action as a white person who is not likely to be a target of police violence, and while I appreciate her honesty, I wish she’d credited the people who planted that seed of doubt within her, as well as the people whose tweets on Black Lives Matter were reprinted in the zine. So while I do have some criticisms that I’d love to talk about, I did enjoy reading the zine and spending a whole month sharing my home with Comet. She’s inspired me to reconsider the information that I share online, to draw more, and to write for myself before I write for anyone else.
In Situ #1 / $10.00 / 70g
In Situ is a great comic that’s created by rad human and pal Sophie Yanow. This one is perfect-bound and printed by Colosse / Export – I’ve sold out of subsequent issues, but you can order more from there. This first issue is a daily comic that begins in her hometown of Oakland, California, and follows her to Montréal. New adventures, anxiety, homesickness, punk shows, queer dance parties, books, bikes, and babes. Six panels per page, with a very recognizable aesthetic. Made me seriously love comics.