28 May 2011


Today, I close my zine review blog.  I have read through my four boxes of zines and have even had the chance to review a couple of trades.  Looking over all of my zines has been a useful review of my youth.  With hindsight, I can see how important zines and the independent zine culture have been to my identity as an artist and to my motivation to continue to create and to organize creative groups. 

Tomorrow is the Ravenswing Craft & Zine DIY Fair in Minto Park in Ottawa.  We'll have over sixty vendors selling crafts and zines, live music from local bands, skill-sharing workshops and the Clothesline Project.   I'm giving out my zines to volunteers and selling the rest to help pay for fair expenses.  Check out the Info Table for a great deal on some great zines!

Keep reading and keep thinking for yourself! xoszio

27 May 2011


In John Isaacson's second issue of his Do-It-Yourself Silkscreening series, he brings us to the street to show us his experiences with joining an outdoor market to sell his hand-designed and printed t-shirts.  I enjoyed this issue because it covered most of my own experiences with selling my crafts at fairs and markets.  Overall, it can be a real pain in the ass.  However, John turns it all into a great comic that is worth the read whether you have ever tried selling your own art on the streets or not.

John's zines are among my treasures.  They are sincere and make you feel like you've become his friend by the end of every issue.  You can buy the whole series of  Do-It-Yourself Silkscreening through Microcosm, or visit Octopus Books and see if they have a copy or can order you one.  You can also visit John's page on the web.

This Sunday, you can find your own fair share of crafters and zinesters in Ottawa at the Ravenswing Craft and Zine DIY Fair.  Along with an excellent crew of artists and writers, I am anxiously putting the final touches to our plans for the fair.  With live music, skill-sharing workshops, public feminist art, crafters and zinesters, it's going to be magic. 

25 May 2011

THE ARTICHOKE [by Verwho?]

In The Artichoke, Verwho? transforms the act of eating an artichoke into sensual pleasure.  Using the image of peeling, preparing and eating an artichoke, she takes the reader through a seduction of the protagonist, removing her hard defense to uncover her softness within. 

When I received Verwho?'s zine, I wasn't expecting much.  It was short.  It was a comic.  However, when I opened it up, I was amazed.  Not only was her zine attractively illustrated, it was beautifully worded as well. 

Damn, this zinester is cool.  Check out her website and buy her art: www.verwho.com.

24 May 2011

ONCE [by Kera Willis]

Once is a record of one of Kera's visits to Burning Man.  It is told in her poetic voice, which flows from image to image and makes mystics out of her characters and narrative voice.  She is also a true artist when it comes to her zine design, using cardstock and golden ribbon to make a unique cover. 

23 May 2011


Combining portraits of Ottawa neighbourhoods with comics of encounters with people passing by while he was drawing, Colin White has created a unique document of the nation's capital.  In fact, since its publication in 2006/7, it has already become an archive of how Ottawa used to look like.  For example, he has an image of Bank Street and Laurier before the massive condo was built on that corner.  It is weird to note how quickly the city can change. 

When I worked at Octopus Books, I hand-sold Colin's zine like mad.  Any tourist who came through the doors was guaranteed to leave with his or her copy of Colin's zine by the time he or she left.  The zine shows a more intimate and gentle side of Ottawa than the typical tourist merchandise of the city, and I always felt happy knowing that Colin's portraits of my hometown were being sent out into the world for strangers to show their friends and family.

To admire more of Colin's work or to order your own copies of Cool Drawing, Dude, go to his website.  Alternately, you can visit the Ravenswing Craft and Zine DIY Fair this coming Sunday at Minto Park between 11am and 4pm.  He will be there with his zines and I am confident that he would be happy to sell you signed copies.

22 May 2011


In one week today, Minto Park in Centretown Ottawa will transform into a celebration of art, music, skill-sharing and kindness toward women.  In other words, the Ravenswing Craft and Zine DIY Fair will take over for an afternoon. 

In June 2005, Festrell (aka Faye) and I began Ravenswing as a monthly craft and zine fair at Jack Purcell Community Centre.  With a mutual love for zines and independent art, we brought together a small community of zinesters and crafters and poured our time and love into organizing the fair. 

In January 2006, Festrell made a zine for Ravenswing with vendor's bios, a list of skill-sharing workshops and short articles by her and me.  Reading this issue was nostalgic for me.  Following is an excerpt of my impressions of our second-ever Ravenswing fair:

"Everybody's spirits at the fair was uplifting and positive.  Throughout the afternoon, I was surrounded by the fantastic buzz of people chatting.  Nothing compares to that sound of several conversations merging into the noise of an event.  You can get lost in it, trying to imagine what each conversation is about.  And people were talking about all kinds of things: crafting, writing, music, weddings, the art of culture in Canadian cities, and much more. 

I have high hopes for Ravenswing.  I can dream it as a space for people to gather, to share their creations, and to make a few bucks for a drink, for groceries, or for a new project to be unveiled at the next fair.  Nothing compares to the excitement of something green and wanted by the community.  I feel gloriously grateful to be helping organize an event that creates a space for us as artists to breathe in the city."

The zine itself was well designed by Festrell, filled with great backgrounds of found images in a cut-n-paste feel.  This year, we are going into our 5th annual outdoor fair and we are fortunate to have Festrell designing its program.  We will be giving out a limited number of copies throughout the day, so come early to make sure you get your copy.

See you there!  Fore more information on Ravenswing, see www.ravenswingottawa.com.

19 May 2011

LITTER HEARTS [by Pierre Richardson]

Litter Hearts is a quarter-size zine that features the drawings of Pierre Richardson.  His style was immensely popular in the early millenium, and he designed a number of posters for events during that time.  To see more by him, check out his blog.

17 May 2011

DREAM ZINE [by Mary Ellis]

The first issue of Dream Zine is a short exploration into some of the subconscious minds of Ottawa's artists, including me.  Moving from poems to drawings to stories to comics, it offers the reader a delightful little taste of tales made up of odd imagery and the scattered story-telling typical of dreams. 

I'm not certain if we'll get to see more issues of Dream Zine.  If you want more, or even just a copy of the first issue, email Mary.

16 May 2011


Nontoxic Housecleaning is a useful resource that includes recipes for household cleaning products and tips on cleaning.  The cleaning products are eco-friendly and made with inexpensive items easily found at the local grocery store.

I definitely recommend this zine.  For a couple of dollars, it is a better resource than many of the books I've seen written on this topic.  For your copy, check out Microcosm.

15 May 2011

SMALL TOWN GENESIS [by Jayda Kelsall]

Small Town Genesis is the story of an atheist's relationship with Christianity from childhood into adolescence.  Raised an atheist, Jayda's perspective is the genuine view of someone looking at Christianity from the outside in.  Her childhood misunderstandings of Christian concepts, like sin, are told with humour and tenderness. 

She also describes the prejudice and bigotry of Christianity as a social institution with endearing judgement.  My favourite story in the zine is about the time when she was told, for the first time, that being gay was considered sinful and wrong by Christians.  Just before, she had met a friend of her older sister's who was gay and who was super fun.  He painted her nails and let her paint his, too, and she "had a burning desire to be as cool as he was."  When she was at a youth event, the leader opened the topic of homosexuality and, before the leader could begin telling the group about the Church's view on it, Jayda jumped into the conversation and shared with the group how much she liked her sister's gay friend and how lovely he was.  She wrote, "After enthusiastically telling the group about him, it got really quiet."  The group was then told about how not lovely the Church considered gays.

Homosexuality is the one breaking point between Jayda believing and not believing in Christianity.  In her zine, she does a wonderful job of showing how Christianity isn't all awful and how not all Christians are bigots.  However, by the end, the baby does get thrown out with the bathwater because, let's be honest, gay-haters are people-haters.  Nevertheless, Jayda concludes her zine by discussing how polite she is with others who believe in Christianity, ever the one to practice ending prejudice in any possible way.  

14 May 2011

ZINE WORKSHOP [by The Independent Publishing Resource Centre]

Out of the many 'how to' publications on zine-making that I have read, the Independent Publishing Resource Centre's (IPRC's) version is, by far, the best. It covers everything from format and design to distribution and tabling at fairs.  Its writing is clear and concise, and it is incredibly useful, even for a seasoned zinester like me.

The IPRC is located in Portland, Oregon, and embodies everything beautiful about independent writing and publishing.  For more information on this organization and its services, please visit its website.

13 May 2011

LICKETY SPLIT #1 [ed. Amber Goodwyn]

 The highlight of Lickety Split #1 is a sample of vintage porn in the form of a comic strip that, in one panel, features Popeye with a big boner ready to pound a Betty-Boop-looking girl on a park bench.  The rest of the zine is a heterosexually focused compilation of erotic images and stories.  At one time in my life, I was certain that I would meet lots of gays in the hipster world.  Many, many years and many, many hipster events later, I have discovered that, like the Lickety Split zine, no gays populate this social scene.  Major bummer.   

11 May 2011

KISS OFF 12 [by Chris Kiss]

In, I believe, the final issue of Kiss Off, Chris writes in a nostalgic mood, contemplating locations, people and music as they are and as they were.  This double lens of his life creates a more mature voice, portrays an older self suddenly capable of recognizing the affects of time on places and relationships.

Poverty also makes an interesting appearance in this issue that pushes Chris into a new awareness.  He quotes Elizabeth Gurley Flynn as writing, "poverty was like a dismal country that only those who have been to can speak of with authority," and he laments, "I seemed to have an extended visa."  I remember that when I first read this issue, I was also struggling as an underemployed, freelance worker and his writing about hunger and poverty were helpful to me, were the notes of a kindred soul.  My favourite quotation in the zine comes from his grandmother and was meaningful to me at the time.  Speaking about Poland's social climate under communism and democracy, she notes, "In either case there's the same problem: young people could not find work.  And if young people cannot work they are not really free."

A feature of this issue that I especially like is the quotations that open every article.  They are profound, meaningful and speak to the following article very well. 

I don't plan on keeping many of my zines after I complete this blog of reviews.  However, Kiss Off 12 is one I plan on setting aside as one of the dozen that I preserve to read again when I'm an old man or when my kids find them in an old box and help me rediscover them. 

For your own copy of this insightful and tender zine, go to Microcosm.

10 May 2011


In the second issue of Beautiful Mess, AF moves from Calgary to Montreal and meditates on the changes that this move has brought onto her life, career and self-image.  This issue of AF's zine is my favourite.  In her usual style, she is bold yet reserved, confessional and endearing.  However, in this second issue, we witness her partly shedding her skin and partly developing a new, thicker one.  In fact, the zine's centrefold features a discarded snake skin, which perfectly sums up the theme of transformation that preoccupies this issue as a whole.

If you haven't read a copy of Beautiful Mess, order your copy now!

09 May 2011


I might just be in a grumpy mood right now, but I hate it when zinesters don't put their name in their zine.  You're going to write a zine and send it across the globe but you don't want anyone to know you wrote it?  C'mon now!

Anyway, issue number four of I Hate This Part of Texas was the first issue I read of this zine.  I immediately fell in love with the zinester's lyrical writing and his images of skeletons riding bicycles.  This issue includes an interesting article on the bicycle shop that he worked at called Plan B, which was also run as a community centre of sorts. 

Like his following issue, this one reads as a love song to New Orleans.  Although he and his contributors describe the city as a pretty scary hell-hole, they all agree that it is the greatest place to be.  I think romanticism plays a larger role than sincerity in these opinions. 

Overall, I definitely recommend I Hate This Part of Texas.  It is well written and is a delight to look at with its great images and type-written pages.  To get your hands on this zine, go to Microcosm.

08 May 2011

QUANTIFY 5 [by Lauren Martin]

I bought this copy of Quantify at the Toronto Women's Bookstore.  The last time I was there, they had a great selection of zines.  It has been a while since then, however, and I can't vouch for their current inventory.

Quantify 5 is a great zine.  Lauren is an intelligent and critical writer, and she engages very well with her topics and views.  The main focus of this issue is the intersection of gender and race in feminism, academia and art.  Lauren's discussions of this topic expertly show its complexities.  Much of what she writes about centres on seen identity in dominant and alternative cultures and how that identity influences the rights of individuals. 

One article in this issue does veer away from political discussions on identity and speaks about the zinester's urge to create art and about the importance of the act of creating art to the survival of the human creature.  She briefly writes about do-it-yourself (DIY) art, "I also have a hearty appreciation for that which is DIY.  Making shit yourself is a fucking radical concept.  Crafting is a political act in that it can enable one to opt out of a consumerist culture."  I love when zines politicize crafting!

I don't think that you can order copies of Lauren's zines anymore.  But, the next time you are at a zine library, like the Toronto Zine Library or the Independent Publishing Resource Centre, definitely seek out her work. 

07 May 2011

CULTURE SLUT #23 [by Amber Forrester]

I first met Amber at a Canzine a few years ago.  The afternoon was near ending and I was taking a final break from my table to have one last tour of the zinesters and artists.  My eyes popped and I broke out into a massive smile when I saw Gwen Stefani pinback buttons.  I picked them off the zinester's table as if I would have to fight others to get them and told the stylish young womon behind the table how cool the buttons were.  She agreed and told me that she was surprised that no one else liked them.  "No worries," I said.  "They're all for me!" 

My Gwen Stefani Button!!!
That is the story of how I was introduced to Culture Slut and Amber's zine-amazingness in general---she also runs a rad distro and catalogues her adventures and writes great zine reviews on her blog.

As a blogger, Amber doesn't use her zine to archive her writings.  Instead, she uses her zine as an opportunity to showcase her design talent.  In Culture Slut #23, she shows details of the places where she lives and has lived through colour polaroids.  In addition to these polaroids, she writes short articles about her family and friends, as well as little self-reflective snippets.  Nothing about this zine is excessive.  In fact, it is a wonderful balance of colour, image and idea. 

An added bonus of this issue of Culture Slut is the super cute boy who appears mid-way in the zine.  You have to buy your own copy to see him for yourself.  You can email Amber to see if she has any copies for sale.

06 May 2011

HIP HOP DON'T STOP #2 & 3 [by Tyler Debelak]

I received these copies of Hip Hop Don't Stop through a zine trade a number of years ago.  Both issues are really good.  Tyler writes introspectively and sarcastically, which make a satisfying mix, surprisingly.  His zines are filled with both typed and handwritten articles, as well as found images.

My favourite article is about 'thinking movies' and how college students act like "their entire world has opened up and they have somehow experienced something totally unique and awe inspiring" after watching them.  He writes about how these students tack meaning onto every little detail in these films to a point of ridiculousness.  His attitude toward these viewers is really funny and critical. 

04 May 2011


Red Alert is a women's health and feminist zine produced by members of the Concordia QPIRG.  It includes poems, stories, cool 'grrls rule'-type stickers and many articles on menstrual health. 

The coolest part of this zine is a poem by Evalyn Parry, who I will be opening for as part of the Kymeras at a show on Saturday, June 4th in Almonte.  In the zine, she writes a poem about her early experiences with her period and it is very endearing and touching.  On the 4th, she will be performing her new show Spin.  For more information on this show, visit Evalyn's website.

03 May 2011


Curses is a quarter-size zine about science written in rhyme.  Issue number four is about the sense of smell and the biology of the nose.  It is filled with diagrams, big science words and interesting facts.  Its most impressive aspect is the zinester's ability to incorporate some very obscure words into a rhyming scheme.

Curses is written by a friend of mine who, I am certain, would be pleased to provide you with a copy of this zine.  However, neither her name nor her contact information are in this zine, so get in touch with me if you want a copy.

02 May 2011

INVINCIBLE SUMMER #10 [by Nicole Georges]

Issue 10 of Invincible Summer is mostly about the lives of Nicole's pets and twice reminds readers to be responsible for the care of their pets.  I love when Nicole writes about her life through the lens of her pets.  It is a sweet mix of frustration and innocence. 

Another great feature of this zine is Nicole's comics.  My favourite comic strips were called 'Invincible Bummer' and showed some heart-breaking moments in her day-to-day life with drawings that are as cute as buttons.  The rest of the zine is full of her unique drawings. 

To order copies of Invincible Summer, see Nicole's website.

30 April 2011

JOURNALSONG #6 [by Steve]

The highlight of Journalsong #6 is the drawings by Nicole Georges of Invincible Summer.  They are really adorable and comment on the articles very well.

For a copy of this zine, order it through Microcosm Publishing.

29 April 2011


My friend Chris Kiss sent me a copy of About My Disappearance #2 along with an awesome letter and a copy of his own zine.  After reading the letter and Chris's zine, I opened About My Disappearance #2.  It was about Dave's experiences having Crohn's disease, which is an inflamed bowel disease. 

When I discovered that this zine was about Crohn's, I felt very happy that not only did I now have a zine by someone who has a similar chronic illness that I have (I have Ulcerative Colitis, another form of inflamed bowel disease) but I had a friend as thoughtful and considerate as Chris in my life who would give me a copy of this zine.

I saw a lot of myself in Dave's zine---the sacrifices you have to make to accommodate your pain; the limits that a chronic illness place on social relationships; the fear of eating that comes with a bowel disease; and the amount of planning and thinking that goes into preparing to travel with a bowel disease.  Like the best kind of zine, About My Disappearance #2 made me feel less alone in the world.

In addition to being a great story about a few very difficult years in Dave's life, this zine is refreshing because it is well-written: no spelling mistakes, good grammar and good word choice.  So far, too many of the zines I've been reading have been a horrible offence to the English language (which I love like a cherished Grandmum) and Dave's care of the written word and language is welcome in the North American zine world.

To order a copy of About My Disappearance #2 or any other of Dave's zines, go to Microcosm Publishing.

28 April 2011

DORIS 25 [by Cindy Crabb]

Doris 25 is much less political than the other issue of Doris that I own.  Issue 25 is more thoughtful and allows an insight into Cindy's dreams, life goals and struggles. 

I really like the format of this issue.  Each article is opened with a question from a reader, which gives Cindy the opportunity to write in her conversational tone that is her specialty.  The topics she covers are also very interesting.  She has a good story about her discovery of anarchism that includes a great recommended reading list, which I know because I have read most of the titles on her list. 

Issue 25 ends with an article about Cindy's relationship to drinking alcohol that is noteworthy because it shows her very gentle yet stubborn approach to making peace with it.  She eventually joins a mutual support group for alcoholics and I hope she has continued to attend those meetings because they are founded upon some great anarchist principles that I am certain she would love. 

For a copy of this zine, visit Cindy's website.

27 April 2011

UNTITLED [by Esther]

I came across this zine by Esther, who is from Australia, through Blackburn Distro.  It is an odd little specimen of a zine, a mixed bag of funny commentaries, little stories, found articles and images, and book reviews.  In one part, Esther discusses her work in a youth psychiatric unit, which is very interesting and insightful about the workings of contemporary mental health care.  Overall, if Esther is anything like her zine, she is very cool.

26 April 2011


Ghost is a collection of ghost stories retold by the zinester and her friends.  Overall, the idea of bringing together a bunch of ghost stories and publishing them as a zine is great.  However, although most of the stories are spine-chillingly realistic, some of them are questionable, which made me doubt if the whole zine was not just a piece of fiction for Halloween.  But, meh, that's the beauty of ghost stories, I guess.  Fear is in the eye of the believer.

25 April 2011

BUILDINGS & BODIES [by Ryan Dodgson]

Buildings & Bodies is a collection of portraits of buildings as if they were people.  Each one is full of personality and detail.  To order your copy of this gem, check out Atomic Books.

20 April 2011


Entropic Tendencies was one of my favourite zine trades.  Laura J. contacted me through LiveJournal, back in the day when people used LiveJournal. 

'Entropic' is defined in the zine as chaos, disorder and spontaneous change.  Laura embraces this concept to describe herself and uses it to make a zine full of random images, quotes and short articles.  Everything about this zine screams enthusiasm and energy, and I love reading it over again and again.

19 April 2011

GREEN ZINE 14 [by Cristy C. Road]

When I grabbed this copy of Greenzine from my friend Becky's zine collection before she moved to Tunisia, I was beyond excited to read a zine by an artist whose work I adored.  Cristy's images are inspiring and beautiful, filled with political meaning and all shades of love. 

When I opened Greenzine 14 to read it, I was surprised to find it very text heavy with only a few images.  It's like when you're a kid and your babysitter brings over a storybook and it's full of words with only a couple of pictures.  In other words, disappointing.  What is worse is that this zine is long and majorly depressing.  It's full of sexual victimization, racial discrimination, difficult protests, harsh familial relationships, poor mental health and lots of booze and drugs.  As I read each story and flipped over each page, I kept waiting for the zinester to rise up from all of her pain and crying---but it never happened.

On a positive note, however, this zine does show how a strong and supportive community can help an individual become more self-aware.   

17 April 2011

ROOT #2 & 3 [by Sarah Evans]

Issues two and three of Root show a young university graduate on a journey to discover herself, her place in the world and her home.  In the third issue, she embarks on a journey across America to visit underground communities and tourist hot spots.  It reads like a travel diary of alternative cultures and spaces and is very interesting. 

Sarah's style as a zinester is very clean, thoughtful and well designed.  The images she re-uses are great and her collage commentaries cleverly comment on her text. 

16 April 2011

MARRIAGE AND LOVE [by Emma Goldman]

Written in 1914, Emma Goldman's essay on marriage and love could very well have been written in 1994.  Not only is her style direct and modern, but many of the issues about the ineffectual role of marriage in relationships and in an equitable society remain pertinent even to today. 

Reading this essay, I was most surprised by Goldman's frank discussion of sex.  She defends a woman's right to her desire, to wanting to have pleasure in her sexual life.  She argues that the institution of marriage, based on economy and property, destroys a woman's healthy relationship to sex.  She becomes a breeding machine trapped in a house and expected to do slave labour with no insurance for her life's needs should her husband die or leave.  Grim.

One of my favourite arguments that Goldman makes is that marriage makes a woman 'parasitic.'  It turns her from an autonomous person into a dependent who feeds off of a man.  She argues that the institution of marriage inevitably creates this dynamic wherein a wife becomes someone her husband can easily detest.  She becomes a parasite.

Granted, Goldman's views are unique to her time when women's freedom was drastically limited by marriage.  Today, a woman can marry and continue to work in a capitalist society, own her individual assets and divorce her husband if she should need to leave him.  However, Goldman's essay does remain relevant in her cynicism of marriage's ability to create love between two people and her realistic view that marriage is not going to serve anyone as much as it serves the state and the church.

To obtain copies of Goldman's essays, visit www.kersplebedeb.com.

15 April 2011


Issue three of Slightly More Than Sound Bytes is a wonderful time capsule of Ottawa's cultural underground in the early millennium.  Jess was very active in the local feminist and activist scenes and she writes about organizing events like the Dyke March and Ladyfest.  I recommend this zine for any Ottawa activist who needs a little inspiration.  Jess's articles are a reminder of the power of community and of the possibilities of grassroots organizing in Ottawa.

This issue also includes discussions of gender in the lesbian subculture.  I found it really interesting how self-conscious Jess had to be in order to develop her own identity within the lesbian community.  It seems like she had to deal with two ever-oppressing forces: the patriarchal-male expectations of her sex and gender and the lesbian-female ones.  No wonder it's so hard to be a girl, let alone a lesbian!  As a gay guy, none of these issues press upon me.  I don't have to worry about choosing to wear make-up or to shave or whether my wearing a dress versus pants is making a political or sexual statement.  I just get up, throw on my cords, brush my teeth and go to work.  I always enjoy Jess's zines because they are so helpful in informing me about the issues around being a womon in today's society.  And, even better, she is full of moxy and has the best fight-for-your-rights attitude.

Another great feature of issue three of Slightly More Than Sound Bytes is the recommended reading list on queer herstory and gender that is in the back.  It is a great reference. 

14 April 2011


Reading the first issue of Beautiful Mess reminded me of why I love zines.  It is a doorway into the private thoughts of a sensitive teenager filled with photos, journal entries and creative writing.  It also includes a scatter of quotations from novels, which are perfectly chosen for each page of AF's writing, and it ends with a track listing for a mixed tape, which I think is awesome. 

My favourite aspect of this issue of Beautiful Mess is its refusal to follow a timeline.  It is made up of mostly journal entries from between 2003 to 2005.  Together, they describe a young woman who struggles with her place in both her own world and the world at large.  But, in the span of two pages of journal entries, they can jump with months of space between each one, thus showing AF as a person, showing how she has dealt with her life over the timeline of her actual life.

Also, the journal entries are not presented in a direct timeline from 2003 to 2005.  You could read an entry from 2005 and the next could be from 2003, defying the concept that the zinester's emotions or self-awareness must follow any kind of predictable unfolding.  In fact, at one point she writes, "I hate time.  I don't want to be linear."  Her style throughout the zine backs up this claim and makes me like and respect AF even more as a thoughtful, creative and intelligent artist.  Beautiful Mess Zero restores my faith in the art of the zine.

13 April 2011

MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE [by Gordon B. Isnor & Christopher C. Yorke]

Meet Me in the Middle is a quarter-size poetry zine that is very well designed.  Its content is a ten-part poem that shuffles some of the same lines repeatedly throughout, creating different scenes with similar imagery.  For me, some of the lines stood out above others because they were very sexually direct and evoked some of those awkward feelings you have when you find yourself in a sexual situation that either you or your partner didn't necessarily want to be in.

On the last page of Meet Me in the Middle, it notes that "The preceding poems were generated by the authors using their Mindlist(tm) application."  Generally, I love zines because they are print media and are accessible to all people.  However, with this zine, I think you might need a computer to fully understand its implications as a commentary on technology, media and art.  I checked out the Mindlist(tm) application and it basically generates short poems from a list of phrases that you add to a list.  So, Meet Me in the Middle is an example of where print media can meet technology.  It is a randomly generated collection of poems from the ordered mind of its authors.  I believe that the authors play with this idea by choosing to place an ouroboros on the zine cover and at the zine's centre, suggesting that the poetry is regenerative and can keep getting shuffled to create ever new ideas and images.

Meet Me in the Middle came from MontrĂ©al.  It does not include any contact information for you to order a copy, but, if it interests you, email me and I will get you in touch with the author.  

12 April 2011

LINDA-GAY 1-1: A FEMZINE [by the Lady and the Fag]

Inspired by feminism, SARK and Francesca Lia Block's Zine Scene, my best friend Gidget and I started our own zine in our early twenties called Linda-Gay.  I remember the rush of excitement we put into finishing an issue of Linda-Gay, as if we were racing against procrastination.  After we completed an issue, Gidget would focus on distributing copies through online distros and I would bring them to local bookstores and community hotspots on the university campus. 

Looking back on Linda-Gay nearly ten years after writing it, the femzine is a great time capsule of my friendship with Gidget.  Our first issue is a real mix of articles and art that includes a review of an autobiography by Roseanne Barr, a tribute to Steve Martin as the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors and a mystical story about being a part of the cosmic order of nature.  My favourite article, though, is one by Gidget about her first time reading a Cosmo magazine when she was at the hairdresser's as a kid.  She writes about how she didn't know if it was meant as porn for men or as a magazine for women and how embarassed she was about possibly getting caught looking at it.

In true Gidget-Zio fashion, our first zine ends with a tribute to Madonna and dancing in our spoof of Oprah magazine's 'What I Know For Sure' column.  I love us.

What I Know For Sure: 
Madonna was Right - You Can Dance
For Inspiration

11 April 2011

LARCENY 26 [by Shaun]

In Larceny 26, Shaun is not nearly as bitter as in his earlier zines.  Instead, he is in a more forgiving and thoughtful mood. 

The best feature of this issue of Larceny is Shaun's article about sexual consent in gay sex.  Consent is a more common topic for female feminist writers, so it is refreshing to read the topic covered by a gay male.  Sex between two men has a distinct dynamic that is different than between two women or between a man and a woman.  Shaun covers this topic very well and even includes three important rules for every gay man to bring to the table to protect his body and rights during sexual acts with another man. 

Another great article in this issue is about the violence that society freely allows toward gay visibility in public.  Shaun finally responds to this oppression with good old punk anger: "but until the day that no queer has to fear simply because of who they are, the message is loud and clear: IF IT ISN'T HETEROSEXUAL, THEN IT ISN'T "REAL"**IT IS INVALID**IT IS SHIT, AND WE DON'T WANT TO SEE OR THINK ABOUT IT. ....SO LET'S GIVE A BIG STRAIGHT PAT ON THE BACK TO THE "SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE".  FUCK THAT."

Oh, Shaun, you're awesome.

10 April 2011

INVINCIBLE SUMMER #13 [by Nicole Georges]

When I introduce a friend to the world of zines, I generally lend them a copy of Invincible Summer.  To me, Nicole's zines are perfectly digestible.  They are filled with great comics, touching stories, sweet images of animals, and vegan recipes. 

Issue 13 of Invincible Summer is more of a heartbreak than others I have read.  In addition to a difficult break-up and a bad roommate, it describes a terrible tooth surgery that Nicole had to endure.  In one drawing, she is standing in the kitchen trying to eat a cracker with her toothache and her poor face screams with pain. 

This zine covers about a year and a half of her life, so it's not all bad.  In fact, it does a very good job of showing how bad things have the reliable tendency of slowly but surely transforming into good things. 

To learn more about Nicole's gorgeous art or to order your own zines and crafts from her, please visit her website.

09 April 2011


Unleashing the Imagination is a testament to the energy and vigor of French history, politics and heritage.  It begins with a study of Parisian artists who rebelled against the monarchy and then government in the 19th century and follows through to French artists in America and Canada of the early 20th century who spoke out against war and a society based on hierarchy and class privilege. 

This zine is wonderful because it includes images of each painting it refers to and it includes very good background on the histories behind each painting, painter and social climate.  Although I personally disagree with some of Antliff's interpretations of the paintings and his very critical view of the National Gallery's curators, overall, I am glad that Ottawa's Exile Press invested in this great alternative and useful guide to publicly owned art at the National Gallery.

For a copy of Unleashing the Imagination, contact Exile Infoshop

08 April 2011

LARCENY 23 [by Shaun]

In Larceny 23, Shaun is bitter, sarcastic and rude, which is his charm.  Throughout his grumpy diatribes, however, there are glimmers of vulnerability and sweetness.  Perhaps I love Larceny zines specifically because they are this mix of a bad mood with a sensitive heart.  Like most girls, I am a sucker for a bad boy and Shaun's attitude and writing certainly press hard on my boner for a bad-ass.

What makes issue 23 of Larceny especially unique is that it includes Shaun's coming-out story.  At this point of my life, I am sick of coming-out stories.  When I first came out, yes, they were necessary food for my survival and development of a positive self-image.  Yet, after over twelve years of reading them, they get terribly repetitive: guy discovers feelings of same-sex attraction, hates himself for it, hides from society and then has a revelation to tell everyone he's gay so he can shamelessly be intimate with other guys.  Rinse and repeat.

Shaun's version, in contrast, is full of twists and turns, girlfriends, muscle magazines and a summer of sexual discovery with a guy friend.  I especially appreciate how he discusses his self-discovery, like he's talking about this geeky part of himself that he has to accept.  By the end of the zine, he remains somewhat uncertain about his sexuality, and I find that refreshing.  He doesn't need to be waving a flag or wearing rainbow-coloured friendship bracelets to complete his identity (both of which I've been known to do, so no judgement, y'all).  He's just a young guy making sense of his own life.

Graphically, Larceny 23 is punk fanzine magnificence.  It is typed out with an old-school typewriter and has rub-on numbers denoting chapters. The text is pasted over interesting backgrounds that comment on the stories, and the zine is full of re-appropriated images with commentaries and song lyrics pasted on them.  Shaun gave me permission to reproduce this zine, so, if you want a copy, feel free to email me

07 April 2011


This Kid's Head is one of my all-time favourite zines.  It is filled with comics, musings on gender and patriarchy, lyrics and more.  Perhaps what I love most about this zine is its sincerity.  By the time you've finished reading it, you've laughed, raged at injustice and got that little tingle in your pleasure zone.  In fact, it's a lot like spending time with Jake, who is also one of my all-time favourite people.  

06 April 2011

RAG DOLL [by Jim Larwill]

I wish that this small poetry chapbook came with a cd of Jim Larwill performing its poems.  I bought it from Jim after I heard him perform at a reading series five or so years ago.  I've seen him perform many times since and he transforms the stage into a sacred space every time, whether he is describing his lover's body as bread he is kneading/needing or summoning the raven.

Rag Doll contains eleven love poems that only Jim Larwill could write.  Seriously, Canada goes on every day unaware that she possesses such genius in her fold.  I will close with one verse: "Bury me deep in your heart/ to make a place for tired bones,/ my thoughts whispering words/ murmuring blessings for each beat of your life."