Malcriada / $3 / 3 oz
Suzy X has written my very favorite zine of 2012, & this is it. I read with Suzy while on a tour stop in a Brooklyn living room & she floored everyone with her stories from this zine. When I got home & read the entire thing, I immediately felt so lucky to have found it. Subtitled “On Abuse, Assimilation, and Latin@ Identity,” this zine is essentially a memoir that traces the troubled, harrowing parts of Suzy’s history: the abuse Suzy suffered from men throughout her life, the ways that cultural expectations emerged within her family, the acts of violence that happened to her & around her. Suzy is a skilled storyteller whose writing is as good as anything you’ll find on your library’s shelves. Her stories are intimate & often painful (please note the trigger warning for physical & sexual abuse), but oh boy, you will read Malcriada & be so thankful that this zine exists. Crucial reading. Highly recommended.
Malcriada #3 / $3 / 1 oz
Oh, how I love Suzy X’s writing! Through her print zines & comics, along with her online writing for sites like Rookie Mag, Suzy has emerged as one of my very favorite writers. She keeps the goodness going with her newest issue of Malcriada, which covers a recent trip to her mother’s home country of Belize. It’s a travel diary, narrating her trek to & through Belize, with full color drawings & photographs accompanying the entries. As all good travelogues do, this one offers slight detours into things beyond travel recaps. Suzy also explores body image, language, cultural traditions, politics, and the idea of home. As with her previous zines, this one is a true treasure. Grab it up.
Masculinities / temporarily sold out
This purpose of zine, compiled by Cindy Crabb (of Doris), is to “highlight some of the more hidden, harder to define ways that patriarchal masculinity is subverted” through interviews with Shane Parish, Brontez Purnell, Larry, Tomas Moniz, Em, Ka Veen, and Colin Atrophy. The interviews are short but sharp, navigating through ideas of masculinity as it relates to fatherhood, feminism, self esteem, queerness, and so much more. This zine holds thoughtful, honest conversations about the things we don’t always find ourselves talking about with others, so I appreciate being privy to them through this project.
Mend My Dress #10 / $2 / 2 oz
Neely splits this issue into four separate parts, each it’s own pamphlet-sized zine. Each one feels like a letter to a friend (& oftentimes it quite literally doubles as that, as Neely explains that her letter writing days are mostly over due to physical pain), with intimate stories about dealing with depression, returning to therapy, struggling with feelings of loneliness, & wondering if your home is the place you’re meant to be. There is a lot of progression in these issues, as they were written months after one another, & it’s so good to see how Neely survives the hard times & what she does to work on making a full life for herself.
The Most Beautiful Rot / $12.95 / 11 oz
I’ve seriously been waiting for this novel, written by Ocean of High on Burning Photographs, for YEARS. From the back cover: “The Most Beautiful Rot is about solidarity, kale, girl love, and the families we make when our other families leave us behind. Also: overflowing dumpsters, stupid men, catastrophic illness, hot queer makeouts, and a compost pile gone horribly wrong; a testament to the act of digging through the bleakness of everyday life to find something beautiful growing underneath, something that you weren’t quite expecting.” This book will swallow you whole, believe me. 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!)
Motor City Kitty #24 / $2 / 1 oz
There is some real tough stuff in this one, as Bri fills it with writing on grief, abuse, depression, anxiety, & trauma. There is a ton of Bri’s history of the ways she’s dealt with things, from thoughts of self harm to her current method of therapy. This is an extremely personal zine, so much so that Bri reprints pieces directly from her journal about what she is going through. And yet as a bonus, Bri also includes a second, tiny zine (Motor City Kitty #24.5) that looks at the reasons why she’s been writing about such intimate things & whether or not it’s healthy for her to keep MCK going in that same direction. Whatever Bri’s next projects end up being, I know they’ll be really damn good. Bring ‘em on.
Motor City Kitty #25 / $4 / 1 oz
This issue of MCK strays from Brianna’s usual perzine format. Instead we get the results of an ultra rad project she created in order to push her to draw more often — doing a portrait exchange with other artists. It grew into this zine, where we get Bri’s portraits of seven artists, their portraits of her, and accompanying interviews. I took my time with this zine, because it was nice to spend time with each person, looking at their art and then reading about their own artistic processes (which I love doing, as they vary so much & always make me investigate my own approach to my work). It’s a tiny bit more expensive than past issues due to the color printing, but trust me, it’s worth every penny.
Motor City Kitty #26 / $1 / 1 oz
Brianna is so good at consistently releasing perceptive, thoughtful zines. While she grew cautious in the recent past over spilling her guts through her writing, she’s returned to the perzine format to share more of her thoughts on trauma & recovery. The entirety of the zine is one piece in which Bri shares a discovery that she’s found through therapy, and how this discovery has changed her. There’s other things woven into this larger narrative, like a sweet story from her time at Girls Rock Camp that you’ll hold onto long after you’ve read it. Bri’s writing is introspective & tender, and I hope she keeps writing zines until the end of time.
No Better Than Apples #9 / $3 / 1 oz
I saw Kate read from this zine at the 2013 Chicago Zine Fest & I immediately knew I had to have it in the distro. She opens with a single sentence in large, looping letters: On Thursday, my feet went numb. From there it comes tumbling out: pain, tests, anguish, support, all stemming from a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Kate reveals how MS informs her life, from the mysterious agony consuming her body, to the friends who help pull her through. Her sentences are stunning, her layout is gorgeous (for real — each page looks like a work of art), her cover is silkscreened. This is a truly stellar zine. Highly recommended.
No Better Than Apples #11 / $3 / 1 oz
I keep gushing over Kate’s zines but it’s because they make me feel things, every damn time.This one covers the past year of Kate’s life, and while I can tell you that she spills stories of tour stops & a sick parent & nerve damage & buildings on fire, it’s really about other things like learning that it’s okay to lean on your friends & trying to make peace with your body when it has turned against you & the ways we find it in us to push through life’s hardest, most trying times. This is a zine full of tiny moments that aren’t so tiny at all, laid bare with a gorgeous, striking layout. I am begging you to get this. You won’t regret it.
PALS: The Radical Possibilities of Friendship / $2 / 1 oz
It was obvious from the title of this zine that I was going to love it — one of my favorite things to read about & write about & obsess over is friendship. Plus, I was already familiar with LP’s writing through their killer zine reviews on tumblr (catch ‘em at zine-reviews.tumblr.com & see what I mean) & so I knew their zine was going to rule. And I wasn’t disappointed. LP uses PALS to share why friendship is so crucial to them, along with the reasons that creating & sustaining friendships can be a radical act. They writes about the love they hold for their friends, the friendship disasters they’ve gone through, and the ways in which we make room for those we love. This zine will make you think about your own friendships, and it will fill your heart right up.
Pander Mafia / $5 / 4 oz
This is the long-awaited comp zine celebrating the 20th anniversary of the legendary Pander Zine Distro & its founder Ericka Bailie-Byrne. Pander existed from 1995-2005 and in that ten year span, Ericka curated a catalog of smart perzines, maintained a beloved message board, and in turn, created a tight-knit community of writers and readers based around the world. This whopping 72-page zine is bursting with stories from the folks whose lives were changed by Pander, including Caitlin Constantine, Celia Perez, LB, Yumi Lee, Kelli Callis, Mimi Thi Nguyen (who lovingly compiled this thing!) & an extensive list of so many others. I can’t stress enough how vital this zine is, both to me on a personal level and to the zine community as a whole. It’s a testament to the long-lasting power of DIY projects, a document of zine history, and necessary reading for every single zine freak out there, even for those who have never heard of Pander before. Highly recommended.
Pansy #8 / $3 / 3 oz
My favorite new zine discovery of 2014 is Pansy! I’m so into Laura’s zines & am so pumped to be carrying them in the distro. Pansy is beautiful & huge — half-legal sized, with a layout heavy on the cut & paste & with typewritten text. The writing is on the heavy side, with Laura divulging her experiences with (& recovering from — or not) an eating disorder, a painful break up, & drug use. Throughout the zine she comes back to ideas of negativity & apathy, & how these things lay seeds both in herself & the world at large. There’s a lot of struggle in these pages, but there’s also an equal amount of hope. Laura’s writing will pull at you, and it will make you root for her to make it through the tough times.
Pansy #9 / $3 / 3 oz
In the intro of this zine, Laura says that her last issue of Pansy (her first zine in six years) was a catch-up issue, while this one is more about reflections. And I dug this one just as much as the last, as it has a lot of the same rad aesthetics & strong writing as the previous issue. Laura begins with tales of past roommates — some good, some soooooo bad. The second half of the zine was what got me, though. First Laura shares her thoughts on being single & navigating a life without a partner, and how being (& not being) in a relationship affects her mental health. She then writes the most adorable story about her tight friendship with someone across the world. I want Laura to keep writing zines forever & ever. Get this now.
Pansy #10 / $3 / 3 oz
Laura keeps destroying it with these Pansy zines. There’s a lot going on in this one — she says in the intro, “please take care of yourself when you are reading. there is content about psychological / verbal abuse, eating disorders & body image, depression, & shitty coping mechanisms. i hope some things i write, if you relate at all, help you feel less alone.” This issue feels like pages torn from Laura’s diary, with thoughts about an upcoming move from Toronto to New Orleans, pushing past fear to attend the Chicago Zine Fest, wondering if she’ll ever feel like a good enough friend & feminist. What really got me was her writing on being in a verbally & emotionally abusive relationship. This part is really text heavy, taking up half of the zine, & it’s awful & fucked up &, if you’re like me, it will leave you with lots of feelings. Highly recommended.
Pansy #11 / $3 / 3 oz
Another issue of Pansy already? Hell yeah. Laura is a zine making machine. This one has a theme to it: anxiety & what Laura calls “the never ending feeling of doom.” She has spent part of this year in transition as she moved to another country, leaving behind a steady & well paying job, to find herself navigating the same feelings of anxiety that she’s been dealing with throughout her life. She tries to work through it in small ways, pushing herself to figure out how she best functions in this world. Laura’s zines are always so heartfelt & sincere, & her frankness about her (sometimes debilitating) anxiety is just another reason why her writing is so damn good.
Pansy #12 / $3 / 3 oz
Laura says of this issue of Pansy, “this zine is alllll over the place, heavy references to the darkness and how real of a THING it is. i had a breakdown in march that is still lingering and there is a lot of content related to this. also writing about the daily struggle to accept my symptoms and behaviours as being part of who I am which is seemingly a never ending process. i also reevaluate my perspective on the zine community and what it means to me.” This is some heavy reading about mental illness, emotional instability, and feelings of disconnect. It’s dark and sad, and it will leave you hoping that Laura finds better days soon. This is a difficult issue of Pansy to read, but also a necessary one.
People Make Plans #1 / $3 / 2 oz
Nicole is an excellent storyteller, & her zine is filled with tales that pull you in tight. There’s so much of her life on display here — tiny moments (scheming to hide mementos in the blocks between her house & a friend’s) to immense, scary moments (her family being forced to suddenly flee their home). But mostly these are tender, heartbreaking stories about her relationship with her mother. And I don’t want to say too much because Nicole tells it all so much better than I could ever sum up. But trust me — just get this. You won’t regret it.
People Make Plans #3 / $3 / 1 oz
I’m gonna start this description the same way that Nicole starts her zine: “This is a zine about healing from trauma via my experiences with animals. While there are no explicit descriptions, there are references to violence.” This is an intense, aching zine, and I imagine it must have been very difficult for Nicole to write. It covers her history with animals — pets that her family took in (& neglected), the kitten that helped save her — but also reveals her history with suffering & the surfacing of old wounds. Nicole’s writing is direct & vivid, and it will bury itself deep inside of you.
Phases of the Moon #5 / $8 / 7 oz
In the 120 text-heavy pages that make up this zine (which, let’s face it, is pretty much a book) Stacey-Marie recounts the five year relationship she had with an abusive alcoholic partner & how she was able to eventually escape it. It’s oftentimes difficult to read, littered with incidents of manipulation & violence, & yet it also functions as a record of how to break away from relationships that are quite literally destroying you. I’m not sure I can convey how truly powerful this zine is, but believe me when I say that it is something that will stick with you for a long, long time. Highly recommended.
Queer Sailor Moon Fanfiction Saved My Life / $4 / 2 oz
If there was a LP fan club, I’d be the president of it. They wrote one of my favorite zines (PALS: The Radical Possibilities of Friendship) & now they’ve given us another gem. The title of this zine sums up its contents. As LP writes in the intro, “This is the story of my girlhood and the unlikely ways I used nineties girl culture to survive it.” But you don’t have to be a Sailor Moon fan to appreciate it — this zine is more about the things we grasp onto that function as survival mechanisms & get us through tough times. It’s about 90’s pop culture & queer identity & growing up & making it out alive. Highly recommended.
Race Riot #2 /
This zine, the follow up to Evolution of a Race Riot, is a gigantic (118 pages!) comp zine that was first published in 2002 (reprinted & distributed in 2011 with permission of editor Mimi Nguyen). There is so much in here: frustrations over being held up as educator or enemy, conversations with friends who see racial tension as non-existent, the importance of being critical, examinations of language, & more more more. As Mimi says in her intro, “All these pieces were chosen to make you think, to prick you under the skin, to turn the screw, to incite rebellion in your hearts and minds.” This zine also comes with a 32 page project directory which serves as a historical document of many of the zines, comics, films, etc created by people of color in the late 90’s/early 21st century. It’ll be the best four bucks you’ve ever spent.
Roots of Hope / $4 / 3 oz
Through vivid descriptions, pictures and comics, Corinna weaves together stories of heartbreak and perseverance from her two years of living in Oaxaca, Mexico. She finds friends and lovers to discuss politics, teaching and feminism in Mexico. Corinna describes feelings of isolation from her illegal abortion, attempting to make friends in a new country, and having lovers leave her to return to drugs or wives. This is all heart and hope for a world with more honesty and empathy. As always, Corinna’s zines leave me longing for a life of adventure.