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." 

05 April 2011

YOGA MOVES FOR DUDES #1 [by J.G. Sookocheff]

In Yoga Moves for Dudes, J.G. cleverly combines photos from an 80s Richard Simmons record album with a complete series of yoga moves.  At first, I expected this zine to be a joke, especially since it advertises 'yoga for dudes.'  However, it offers yoga in all seriousness to a straight-male audience.  It provides clearly described poses scattered with quotations from yoga ancients and gurus.  Overall, it is a unique zine that does a great job of bringing together humour with instruction.

To see if you can get a copy of Yoga Moves for Dudes, try emailing yogamovesfordudes@gmail.com (I bought this zine a number of years ago, so I don't know how active this account might be these days).

04 April 2011

REAL ULTIMATE TRUTH(tm) [by Colin White]

Colin White's Real Ultimate Truth(tm) is a stream-of-consciousness adventure through the comic artist's imaginative landscape.  Every page was written as a daily hour-long comic, which produces a narrative that seems to build itself over time---to some wacky results.

My favourite aspect of Colin's hour-a-day comics is Heyzeus, the Jesus-like character who flies on a broom with a machine gun and saves the world from the men-with-hats.  I was raised Catholic, so I get a thrill every time I see Heyzeus swear or rattle off his machine gun.

For your own copies of Colin's comic zines or to see some of his spectacular drawings of Ottawa, please visit his website.

03 April 2011

KISS OFF #8,9 & 11 [by Chris Kiss]

My favourite feature of Kiss Off is its descriptions.  Whether Chris is describing his friends, a city landscape or music, he paints a vivid picture that gives his subjects grand and mythical meaning.  Much of issues 8, 9 and 11 of Kiss Off are tributes to Ottawa, and reading Chris's descriptions of the neighbourhoods and venues suddenly made me feel unique for living here, for being a part of the zine's physical and cultural landscapes.

I think that I am entering a new phase in my life because I used to be charmed by the punk lifestyle that Kiss Off depicts: waking up to hung-over mornings with no memory of the night before; drinking excessive amounts of coffee and alcohol while looking for lighters and smoking cigarettes; searching for food and cobbling together a living with crappy jobs; and staying up all night wandering the empty streets.  When I was younger, these stories were inspiration.  I read them to help me get through the day, and I would go to sleep with them littered over the nightstand beside me.  Now that my body has rejected all forms of self-abuse and my goals involve husband and house-hunting while I dream of raising a family, the punk stories of Kiss Off seem adorably adolescent.  I worry that I will have to deal with such shenanigans from my own teenagers in the future, my mind recollecting stories from Kiss Off of Chris getting mugged at his local park in the wee hours of the morning after he had secretly escaped from his suburban bedroom.

Like any of Chris's zines, these issues of Kiss Off are impeccably designed in the fanzine style: type-writer font pasted above photograph and distorted backgrounds.  His writing is also a joy to read and every story succeeds in being entertaining.

02 April 2011

ZINE-O-PHOBIA [by Fiona Kelly]

Zine-o-phobia is a small, 1/8-size zine that covers the basics of zine formatting and design.  I believe that it was initially made as an instructional aide for a course that Fiona was teaching through the public library on making zines.  It is definitely useful, especially for its many diagrams on page numbering.  The most difficult part of making a zine is getting the page sequencing correct on your flats and this zine is a handy cheat-sheet.   

01 April 2011


The eleventh issue of Lisa Hoffman's zine, The Interview Was Literal, is a travel diary of her cross-Canadian tour that she took with fellow artists/musicians/poets/zinesters Paula Belina and Kyra Shaughnessy.  In fact, I met Lisa when Paula brought her and Kyra into my life for their Ottawa stop of the tour.  I organized their show at Collected Works and helped secure a safe billet for Kyra and crammed Paula and Lisa into my bachelor apartment with me and my cat.

I am a die-hard fan of Lisa's music.  The copy of the first cd I bought from her is now so scratched from over-play that my cd player stops and skips in the middle of songs.  I love that album.  Lisa's lyrics and deeply felt compositions tug at my heart every time, over and over.

The eleventh issue of Lisa's zine includes a scatter of lyrics from her album along with drawings, musings and poetry.  My favourite aspect of this issue are its landscapes.  As she traveled across Canada, she drew landscapes of the different areas she passed through, making the zine a tribute to Canada.

To explore more of Lisa's art or to order her zines and music, please visit her online portfolio.  She is also planning on tabling at Ravenswing 2011 on Sunday, May 29th from 11am to 4pm at Minto Park in Ottawa.  Look for her!