Zine Reviews – October 2009

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A Thousand False Starts: Volume 3.5
Robin Banks
What’s not to like about this zine? The bulk of the carefully hand-drawn pages are filled with short comics featuring a dreadlocked vegan protagonist and his misadventures in dumpsters, on buses, and dressed as Batman.  The comedy is brief and heartwarming, normally my least favorite kind, but in this case, it works.  But even better, the zine goes on to include two nicely illustrated vegan recipes as well as a game. The coconut curry soup sounds especially tasty. And that’s not all—perhaps my favorite part of this well-loved labor is the free CD included in back bearing a whopping 24 tracks, most of which are by bands no longer in existence and plenty of it previously unreleased.  It features a variety of hardcore, ska and Riotfolk-style acoustic stuff from well known, long-dead acts including The Upstarts, Azon, My Man Friday and Vanzetti Crime as well as current operators like Illegal Beagle and Bombs and Beating Hearts. I love how much ska is included! My favorite tracks are from The Mooks and James Miska.  Pick this one up for the sheer bang-for-your-not-buck value, ‘cuz, like it says, it’s “never for profit, sukka!” It was worth it for me just to see the picture on the back cover of a knife-wielding banana slipping on the skin of a recently eviscerated human.  Classic. –Riordan Connelly

Life Savings Issue 2
Nate Adams and Greg Duoso
I had mixed feelings about this zine at first glance.  The cover art was appealing and kept me interested enough to pop it open and give it a gander.  The first piece I came across was “Track One 00:04:11” by Nate Adams, is an obscure free-verse ramble.  I really didn’t feel like investing the time to take it apart or derive any meaning from the words that seemed to be placed at random.  Flipping through the comics, I thought the zine was headed in the direction of obscure juvenile literature. Getting past Adams’ poor drawing skills, I found that he has a great talent for storytelling.  “The Near Side of Death” is a moving and thoughtful piece that touches on dealing with death through art.  Greg Duoso provides some top-notch illustrations and comics for the zine as well as “Jason,” which chronicles the creative process of catchy T-shirt design.  In the end, I really enjoyed everything Life Savings had to offer. –Ben Trentelman

Sofa King #3
Willy Nevins
Sofa King issue no. three is a seven-layered burrito. Photography, art, skateboarding, fiction, enviro-loving, list-making, sex drugs and rock’n’roll (that counts as one) and sour cream.  Every page is wildly different, and the quality of the artwork and photography is surprising.  This issue makes about as much sense as the last, which is somewhere between plenty and almost none at all.  Shit’s rad.  I laughed a hernia at that dinosaur’s “Review Of Things You Might Be Entertained By.”  Reading the letter from the disgusting old man was like falling into a giant anus––gross, but once you’ve started, it’s hard to stop. Zines are always where you’ll find people doing it for the love of the process.  “Whoever don’t get it, ain’t supposed to,” reads this issue’s epigraph from MF Doom. I can see how some folks might feel that small circulation zines like Nevins’ read like an inside joke they’re left out of.  Those folk ought to stop worrying about what it means and just enjoy it for what it is.  Besides, there aren’t enough copies to go around anyway, so leave yours on the bus or in a public bathroom and let someone else take it home.  –Jesse Hawlish

Women, Duh! # 1
Mike Brown
Everything you could possibly ever want to know about Mike Brown’s forays with the opposite sex are included in this zine. Bishop’s daughters? (“Notorious for being wilder than an untamed horse.”) Check. Meth-addicted girlfriends? (“Bad idea to ever date any girl who would rather smoke a glass pipe than smoke me.”) Check. Pregnancy scares? (“The longest seven minutes of my life”) Check. Women, Duh! also features his hilarious musing on periods, masturbation, marriage, divorce, a scale for rating women related to fish and a scale to assess how much emotional baggage a girl might be lugging dependent on her age. It’s ripe with spelling mistakes and run-on sentences, but the content is amusing enough that it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t spend time reading portions of this zine out loud to your friends, it’s probably safe to assume that you don’t have a sense of humor. Or you fall into one of Mike Brown’s many “deal breaker” categories––crystal-meth users, girls with dreadlocks, girls that don’t shave, Mormons, Dave Matthew’s fans, chicks with eating disorders and most importantly … Lakers’ fans. –Jeanette Moses