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.
Miss Sequential #4 / $4 / 2oz
This issue of Miss Sequential is about one of my very things: mail! Subtitled “Outgoing: My Life in Mail,” Marissa uses this zine to document her love affair with all things postal. Included are handwritten (!!) stories about finding (& losing) pen pals, working in her college’s mailroom, her obsession with envelopes, using mail to bring a famous author to her first grade class, & more. Throughout this zine are so many drawings: her outgoing mail, her middle school pen pals, the best mail she’s ever received, stamps, letters, & other tiny things. A million years ago, Marissa used to write the zine Red Hooded Sweatshirt — I am so glad she is making zines again. Get this for the artwork alone!
The Most Beautiful Rot / temporarily sold out
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.
Motor City Kitty #23 / $1 / 1 oz
This issue of Motor City Kitty straight up rules. I’ve been reading Bri’s zines for years & this is my favorite so far. Inside Bri writes about the power found in true friendship & in playing music with your best friends, her reasons behind getting sober, what the idea of ‘support’ looks like to her, & how she planted roots in an unexpected city. Each of these stories reveal, in different ways, how Bri is navigating her way through life & settling into herself. Creating a life that is what you envision for it can be really tough & scary, and I felt really happy for Bri while reading this issue. Not to mention that she really knows how to do a killer cut & paste layout!
Nashville Transit / $2 / 1 oz
I was so thankful to find this zine in my po box, as it is surely one of the best zines I’ve read in a long time. In it, Kale documents the many times that he’s been harassed while using Nashville’s public transportation system. As a transguy, Kale often deals with harassment from men based on their various, & often misguided, perceptions of his identity. This stories in this zine are really fucked up & intense & heartbreaking (& please note that Kale includes a trigger warning for graphic verbal sexual harrassment, transphobia, & homophobia). And yet after revealing so many excruciating, fearful experiences, Kale ends the zine with the story of an interaction on an airplane that is a real glimmer of hope. Even though this zine was really hard to read, I’m so glad that Kale is sharing these stories. I hope it helps. It did for me. Highly recommended.
Neither Doll Houses Nor Tree Houses: On Living Outside of the Gender Binary / temporarily sold out
Sari, one of the co-editors of the feminist comp zine Hoax, covers a whole lot of territory in this text-heavy zine. They begin with their history of feeling on the outside of standard gender roles throughout their life, beginning at age six. They describe the process of admitting their gender variant identity to their friends, and how this identity often influences the ways that Sari feels that they should dress or act in front of others. They also write about workplace acceptance, language accessibility, the privileges that white trans* folks hold because of their race, & so much more. Throughout the zine, Sari works through questions about gender while using stories from their own life to help locate the answers. There is way more to this zine than I could ever write in this tiny paragraph. Highly recommended.
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 #10 / $3 / 1 oz
The previous issue of Kate’s zine detailed her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis; this one sees her through remission. Kate is intent on building a full life, & she shares the ways in which she is doing so — starting the new year surrounded by those she loves, tending to a friend who has been abused, traveling to another country to be with her far away best friend. She also reveals the effects of being so public about her health & the invasive (& sometimes awful) things that strangers say to her in regards to it. Kate’s zines knock me over every time. The writing is touching & strong, the art is stunning, & the cover is beautiful. I can’t say enough good things about No Better Than Apples. Essential reading.
Not Straight Not White Not Male / $2 / 2 oz
I am SO STOKED to have this zine in the catalog. Rosi is a queer Asian woman, & her writing is tough as nails. She confesses that her identity influences her actions & appearance, spurred by her belief that she must prove herself as both a female & an Asian. She includes a ton of fucked up things that white people have said to her or around her, & the expectation that she constantly be up for calling people out on it. There is writing on privilege & resentment & supposed allies & so much more (I could never tell you everything that’s in this zine, as there are so many excellent essays in here). As I told Rosi, this is definitely one of the best & powerful & important zines I’ve read. It’s one of those zines that I want to shove into the hands of everyone I know. Highly recommended.
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 Lily’s writing through her killer zine reviews on tumblr (catch ‘em at zine-reviews.tumblr.com & see what I mean) & so I knew her zine was going to rule. And I wasn’t disappointed. Lily uses PALS to share why friendship is so crucial to her, along with the reasons that creating & sustaining friendships can be a radical act. She writes about the love she holds for her friends, the friendship disasters she’s 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.
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.
Race Riot #2 / $4 / 7 oz
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.
Roethlisberger Castration Society / temporarily sold out
As a feminist who loves football, Jen (author of the Jen(ny) Ambular zines) is aware of the misogyny that runs rampant in football culture. This zine explores some of the ways that the football community devalues women: the minor repercussions given to players who have been accused of assaulting women (or committing other crimes), or the controversial Tim Tebow pro-life commercial that garnered so much attention from those inside & outside of football. Beyond that, Jen also discusses the many sports teams who still use racist names & imagery. This zine isn’t a total bummer, though – Jen ends it by highlighting different folks inside the NFL who have used their position to create positive change in the larger athletic community. RCS is a great zine for any feminist sports fan, & a reminder to us all to never stop critiquing the things we love.