Hello Alabama / temporarily sold out
I was overjoyed when Courtney told me she was reprinting this zine, as I’ve been a longtime fan of her writing. First published in 2009, Hello Alabama is a one-shot zine about Courtney’s move to Alabama to attend library school. As she says in the intro, “This is about my experiecnce in Alabama. Understand this: Alabama is not the place for me. I respect the stories and histories of people who live here and grew up here.” Her frustrations with her new surroundings are clear, as she writes about the ugly history of her new home state, the culture shock & lack of community she felt, & the ways that she had to censor herself in order to prioritize her safety. Courtney also shares her disgust with her school itself, including stories of racism & class privilege that took place inside of her classroom. Having graduated, Courtney had since moved away from Alabama. Even so, this zine shows how where we are affects so much of who we are.
High on Burning Photographs #8 / $1 / 1 oz
I think Ocean is one of the best writers in zines today. This issue is especially excellent because Ocean uses it to explore her emotions and actions following a heartbreaking split with her long-term partner, which I (and maybe you, too) can relate to. It’s filled with stories of how she has survived this pain so far, of becoming aware of just how deeply this break-up has affected the ways that she lives her everyday life, of the tiny moments that made her see that she will make it through this somehow. There is a lot of reflection and realization taking place in these pages, & even though there is a lot of sadness here too, this zine left me feeling hopeful for Ocean & what lies ahead. Highly recommended.
Hoax #8 / $3 / 3 oz
This time around, Hoax focuses on the theme of feminisms and mythologies. The best thing about Hoax is the various ways that each theme is interpreted by the numerous contributors to each issue. Submissions range from personal mythologies to mythologies based in communities to mythologies of others. There are pieces on living/being/feeling alone, on “transgender women and the necessities of theory”, on feeling nostalgic for a time when queer folks were more participatory in HIV/AIDS activism, on the need to create archives and make history, plus WAY MORE. If you’ve read Hoax before, you know what to expect — so many dynamic essays & interviews, so many thoughtful ways of addressing a loose theme, that it takes a long time to get through & digest all of it. It’s just what a comp zine should be.
Hoax #9 / $3 / 3 oz
I’ve said it before, & it holds true here — one of the best things about Hoax is the way that the theme of each issue is interpreted by each contributor, making for an extensive range of ideas. The theme of this one is feminisms and vulnerabilities & it’s stacked with 80 pages of essays, interviews, & poetry. Like previous issues of Hoax, there is so much here — writing on vulnerabilities within queer, trans, POC, & feminist communities, along with disclosures of personal & private vulnerabilities. There are stories of mental & physical illness, of sexual violence, of questioning gender, of surviving trauma, & so much more. I have major respect for Rachel & Sari, the editors of Hoax, for continuing to organize this huge project, & to sell it for just $3. This is well worth your three bucks, I promise you.
I Dreamed I Was Assertive #15 / $2.50 / 3 oz
This is the final issue of I Dreamed I Was Assertive! Celia has been publishing this zine for 15 years, & while she plans on continuing her zine writing, she’s leaving the IDIWA title behind. She fills this issue with more of her lovely handwritten stories & illustrations that we’ve come to adore. Her writing is very introspective & diary-like, and she shares stories of a trip to Oaxaca, reminders of her late sister, days spent with her young son, relationships with her siblings, and so much more. She also includes a list of 100 things she wants to do in 2014, which I found to be incredibly inspiring. Celia’s writing is extremely personal, & you can tell as you are reading through it that she rarely holds back. I’m sorry to see this zine ending, but I look forward to whatever Celia creates next. I know it will be fantastic.
I Was a Teenage Mormon / $3 / 4 oz
This is a classic zine, an old school gem, & I’m so happy to be carrying it in Stranger Danger. Caitlin (of All I Want is Everything) released this zine in 2002, & I was just as floored by it back then as I am today. In it, Caitlin shares what it was like to grow up a Mormon in the LDS church. Knowing very little of Mormonism myself, this zine opened my eyes to a lot of what is expected of those who are a part of it. There is a lot of pain & confusion in these pages: sexual assault, the unequal treatment of women, the breaking of overly strict rules & regulations. At the end, Caitlin reveals why she left the religion, & what her relationship with her family is like now that she is no longer a Mormon. This zine is super thick & very text-heavy (it will probably take you hours to read, for real), & it’s a must have for any zine collection.
If Nothing Else the Sky / $5 / 5 oz
New stuff from one of Chicago’s most beloved zinesters, Dave Roche! This here is a straight up GEM. More than a zine, it’s a 96 page, perfect bound book that covers Dave’s travels through Australia and Southeast Asia. Woven through stories of zine readings and unexpected mishaps and new friends are some of Dave’s internal conflicts. What does it mean to be a dude in his mid-30’s who still struggles with the idea of himself as an adult? How can he be a better son to his father? Why does he continue to make zines, to share his stories? But really, this is the tale of what life can be like if you choose to LIVE. You’ll have to rely on the kindness of some punks you’ve never met before, and you’ll have to take chances and risks, but you will find yourself in places you never thought you would be & it will mean everything to you. Dave is one of the most gracious, kind folks I know, and he’s also a gripping & often hilarious writer. And at $5, this is a legit bargain. Don’t miss it.
International Girl Gang Underground / $3 / 5 oz
IGGU is a compilation zine that examines Riot Grrrl through the personal narratives of contributors from around the world. The range of voices is reflected in the essays, which include praise for & critiques of Riot Grrrl, stories of how Riot Grrrl impacted contributors’ lives (in the past & the present), & questions surrounding the need for a Riot Grrrl revival. Also included are artwork & band reviews. Contributors include Mimi Nguyen (Evolution of a Race Riot), Osa Atoe (Shotgun Seamstress), K (Lake Effect), this rad 11 year old girl from Montreal named Lenora, & many, many more. This zine is thick & thought provoking. Edited by Kate Wadkins & Stacy Konkiel.
Canada or Mexico
Inspirado / temporarily sold out
I wrote this on the internet immediately after finishing Inspirado: “Dear everyone who writes a zine (or does any other type of creative project): Buy Inspirado. It will make you think about the reasons you create zines, and the ways you create zines, and why zines rule your life. This is one of those projects that pushes you to MAKE THINGS. I am pulling off the cover & taping it to my wall as a reminder.” And then I did just that. This zine, written by Marissa Falco & Megan Mary Creamer, documents their answers to questions about how & why they create zines/art, how they feel about things such as deadlines & critiques & the internet in response to their creative processes, & their ideas about projects ever being perfect enough. This is one of those zines that you read & think, I wish I had thought to do that! But I didn’t, & so I made a zine of what my answers to their questions would be, did a limited print run of two copies, & mailed them off to Marissa & Megan to read together. Don’t be surprised if you have a similar reaction. Get Inspirado, & then get going.
It’s Alright: A Truckface Anthology (Volume One) / $19 / 13+ oz
The first of two Truckface anthologies, this thick book (360 pages!) contains issues 7 – 11 of LB’s long-running & exceptional zine. From the back cover: “From scooping chicken salads to selling dirty clothes to shelving books to teacher training, It’s Alright: A Truckface Anthology details years of embarrassment and missteps. This volume contains stories of rowdy backyard brawls, awful customer service, awkward social interactions, underpants dance parties, staying angry and learning how to try.” Truckface is the best zine out there, and we’re fortunate to have another chance to dig through its earlier, out-of-print issues. Read this & feel alive. Highly recommended.
(Because this book weighs a ton, please email me if you’re outside of the USA & interested in buying this so that I can determine your shipping cost!)
It’s Alright: A Truckface Anthology (Volume Two) / COMING SOON!
The second volume of the Truckface anthologies is even more massive than the first — 448 pages! From the back cover: “Through strikes, standardized testing, violence, bouffant wigs, school closings and drawings of wieners, It’s Alright: A Truckface Anthology documents the life of one Chicago public high school teacher. Simultaneously hopeful and hopeless, volume two contains issues 12-16 of the long running zine.” LB’s stories are sometimes agonizing, sometimes hopeful, but always moving. I want to force this book into the hands of everyone I know (truly — even my mom bought one). Highly recommended.
Jen(ny) Ambular #1 / $2 / 1 oz
Written from a feminist perspective, Jen documents the formation of and early experiences with her band The Ambulars. She writes of pulling away from a misogynist hardcore community and how she found strength in surrounding herself with progressive, supportive folks. In tales of the many firsts for her band (first show/mini tour/record), Jen shares a feeling that many of us are (hopefully) familiar with – the incredible bliss found in being able to create something you love and share it with others. Awesome and inspiring.
Jen(ny) Ambular #2 / $2 / 1 oz
Even though this issue of Jen’s zine is the story of her band’s 2010 summer tour, it’s not so much about the shows as it is Jen’s thoughts, adventures, and conversations with others while on tour. Many of Jen’s experiences are influenced, both positively and negatively, by her being a female musician: She encounters rape jokes and sexist bullshit, but also moments of solidarity and understanding. There’s also stories of the quiet parts of the tour, and of the anxiety found in being on stage, and of friends old and new. More than just a tour diary, this zine is complex and so, so rad.
Jen(ny) Ambular #3 / $2 / 1 oz
This issue of Jen’s zine chronicles her experience as a counselor at Girls Rock Chicago. She shares touching, inspiring, & often hilarious stories of being a mentor to pre-teen & teenage girls in two bands at the camp, & the things she taught to (& learned from) them. She also tells of an incredibly problematic workshop & how they all worked together to create a way to respond to it. Also included are tales about the women who were influential in Jen’s life as she was just getting into punk, and Jen’s response to dismissals of female bassists. Oh, and the front & back covers of this zine were done by Jen’s campers – yeah!
Lake Effect #2 / $1 / 1 oz
I’ll just start by saying that this is my favorite zine of 2011 (it’s mid-June as I write this & I know the year is only halfway over, but still). This zine is, as K writes, “about the connections between clothing and memory and identity” & how our personal histories are attached to specific items of clothing. Inside, K shares the stories & emotions hidden behind eight pieces of clothes, revealing intimate details about her experiences with class division, homesickness, an abusive relationship, violent crime, & more. Also included is a paper doll, which you can cut out & dress up with illustrated versions of the clothing K writes about. Seriously, buy this now.
Lake Effect #3 / $2 / 1 oz
I’ve read this zine three times since it arrived in my mailbox last week, and every time I just can’t get over how good it is. K says of it, “Like pretty much every zine I’ve made for the last 10 years, this is short stories about boredom & bad news.” And yeah, it’s comprised of brief accounts of some of the hardships & heartbreaks that she’s gone through in the recent past. But there is so much more buried underneath these stories of break-ups, disease, sadness, & assault. There’s the emotion of being tangled up in so much despair, and the hope of making it through it all. Most of my love for this zine lays in K’s writing style — it’s graceful & strong, with sentences & scenes that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. This is hands down one of the best zines I’ve read in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been into zines. Highly recommended.
Lake Effect #4 / $2 / 1 oz
K’s writing tears me up inside. She is a first-class storyteller, using experiences from her own life to reveal the heaviness buried inside of her: feelings of uncertainty & of being lost, the anxiety & worry that is ever present, the push & pull of making it through hard times. Many of the stories in this issue focus on her relationships with others — people in both her past & present, and the impact they have on K now. This is a zine about survival, and it will gut you. Highly recommended.
List #15 / $4 / 3 oz
This issue of Ramsey’s long-running zine is subtitled “On My Own” & it traces her move from Chicago to Philly (& all of the emotions tied to that move). Saying that Chicago “never felt like home,” Ramsey writes detailed lists about leaving Chicago behind & finding her way in a new city, about the relationships that are shifting as a result of her move, about what she is discovering about herself in the process. But there are also lists that aren’t tied to a particular place, lists that reveal other things about Ramsey: her life as a nanny, the things she thinks are important, the bad things that have happened in her life, & so many more. As always, these lists are illustrated with charming, gorgeous art that bring each list to life. Ramsey is so open with the ways that she is trying to create her best life & I am stoked that she uses her zine to share these things with all of us.
Low Risk / $1 / 1 oz
This is a tiny zine — at 2” x 3.5”, it fits right in the palm of your hand — but there’s so much to it that you’ll be left wondering how K packed it all in to such a small space. K is the author of one of my favorite zines, Lake Effect, and her tender, stirring writing style transfers over into this new side project. Here K talks her experience with HPV: the process of being diagnosed with it, the emotions that came with her diagnosis, & the effect it has had on her. She also works through complicated feelings regarding her idea of being healthy, her relationship to her own body, & intimacy with her partner. As K’s zines always are, this one is smart & packed with emotion.