RVA Zinefest 2014 was my best zinefest to date, primarily because I scored a couple of firsts: it was the first zinefest at which I actually made a small profit and it was the first zinefest at which someone came up to me and said, “Aren’t you Robert Mitchell? Could you autograph this zine?”
But this post isn’t about me, it’s about all of the really cool zines I picked up this year. NOTE: All of the titles link to the authors’ web shops or profies so you can buy copies. If you want to buy copies of my zines, browse to PTDICE.com.
Aijung Kim is (besides being a really cool person) a very talented artist with a unique sensibility. I always love her stuff. This year she traded me for two of her mini-zines because I just have a thing for the really small ones. Genius (Love) is an illustrated prose poem “for the full-hearted, broken-hearted, & those who are mending.” It is touching, sincere, and beautiful to look at and hold in your hands. Even in a tiny zine like this, Aijung takes the time to add a little touch — a tiny heart insert on the last page. (A+) Minutiae No.4 is a collection of somewhat random thoughts and observations. It is 14 tiny pages of cuteness and humor with a few dead centipedes and toads thrown in for contrast. Loved it. (A)
All three of these free zines (reprints from the 80’s) are in the classic gonzo comic mold, so if that’s your cuppa tea, you dig ’em. For the most part they are funny, light, and entertaining, although there is the occasional breakthrough into the unsettling and incisive. In Caio Frau there is a one-page story called “Larry the Leper meets Dog*God” that is brilliant. You could write a friggin’ term paper on this thing! Sorry Ralf, have to take points off for some of your panels being just a little too small to read easily. It’d be great if these were 1/2 sheets instead 1/4 sheets. (A-)
First off, I’m just a tourist and sympathizer who sometimes steps into the leftist/anarchist/communist community to write prisoner support letters, deliver material support to protesters, or teach free self-defense seminars to activists. I’m not at all qualified to critique movements and their approaches. So all I can say about Calm Down is that it makes tons of common sense, is fun to read, and demonstrates the ever-increasing wisdom and maturity of Mo Karnage (a.k.a. “the hardest-working human in the anarchy business”). (A). Blending haiku (some funny, some touching) and prose, and mixing the personal, social, and political, Fragments of Karnage is classic Mo: under-produced, emphasis on content over sizzle, minimal, and to-the-point. It’s all good, but the section “Need a man” is brilliant, and the comments on open carry of firearms are insightful and smart. (A+)
I’m pretty sure this 24-page 1/2 size zine violates about a hundred copyrights. That said, it’s super fun to browse the old store ads, screen shots from TV shows, and snippets from newspapers and magazines, all dating back to the 90’s. I especially have a soft spot for Matlock, which earns a full page spread. You go girl! Classic, hodgepodge, cut’n’paste zinester goodnes (24 pages, 1/2 sheet, center-glued). (B+)
Um, wow. I got a chance to meet Hannah when I got her zine. Now that I’ve read it I can say that the zine makes as great an impression as she did. Her art is excellent, and the content really makes you understand the the complexity and importance of studying these increasingly rare birds. This a great zine, and not just for “bird nerds.” After I read it I went to Hannah’s website and spent a half hour browsing. 1/2 sheet, center-stapled booklet. (A+)
This classic zine (40 pages, 1/2 sheet, center-sewed, B&W) is anything but typical. The writing is superb (“I was reading a book under a dim orange lamp light, letting the crystals cast long shadows onto my forearm.”) and the artwork matches the mood and style perfectly. It is intimate but not self-pitying, personal but not sappy. Reading this one leaves you feeling like you’ve made a dear friend, like you want to give her a call and have coffee, like you want to see how she’s doing or mail her a card. Loved it. (A+)
This pink, quad-fold, 1/8 sheet zine is a tiny gem. “Electricity humming/to the bugs singing/heat lightning dancing.” Would love to see other stuff she’s done but I couldn’t find a link to a shop, just a link to her Facebook page. Good job Mara, dig your zine. (A)
Okay, I love bad movies, and this is one of my favorite zines. I only had issues 3 and 5, and although I wanted to get all the back issues, I was a little strapped for cash so I could only afford to pick up #6, the newest issue. Professionally produced and edited, written by pros with real writing chops, and chocked full of interviews, trivia, hilarity, and fun, this is the zine for movie lovers. You’ll find footnotes like this one: “*Hitch also said that “the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” His last film was Family Plot, released in 1976 — coincidentally the very same year that the Big Gulp was first introduced.” 71 pages of 1/2 sheet, center-stapled, pure movie nerd-joy. (A+)
If you’d like for me to review your zine, mail a promotional copy to me at:
Robert Mitchell, P.O. Box 1322, Glen Allen, VA 23060-1322
My sainted father said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” I think that was good advice. So I don’t write bad reviews. If I don’t like your zine, I just won’t review it. That way there’s no bad karma, no negativity, and no assiness. Makes sense, right?