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.
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 #23 / $2 / 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!
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.
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.
Ofrenda: A Zine Anthology / $15 / 12 oz
This book is an anthology of Celia Perez’s zine writing over the past 20 years & it is SUPER RAD. Inside are selections from her main zine I Dreamed I Was Assertive, along with the many mini zines & one shot zines she’s done along the way . And oh man is she prolific — there are excerpts from 38 different zines in here! I’ve loved Celia’s writing for basically forever (I think the first zine of hers I read was IDIWA #5?) & it’s so awesome to have all of her writing compiled in one place. Just reading the intro (in which Celia explains her need to document her life through zines + writing) gave me a bunch of feelings. Celia rules, her zines rule, her book rules. Buy this & keep it forever.
(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!)
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.
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.
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 #2 / $3 / 3 oz
The second issue of this rad zine focuses on Nicole’s experiences as a participant in the Teach for America program, where she found herself in a near cult-like environment, surrounded by privileged, wealthy folks looking to be a white savior to poor children. As someone who grew up in poverty, Nicole doesn’t hide her disgust for the program, although she finishes it & is eventually placed in a bizarre “maritime themed” charter school. Nicole is passionate about public education reform & does her best at being a part of it, while trying to care for herself (& her mental illnesses) as well. Engrossing stories, eloquent writing, another gem.
Phases of the Moon #5 / $10 / 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.
Punk / $10 / 2 oz
Punk is the fourth project in Sarah McCarry’s (of Glossolalia zine) Guillotine chapbook series. This one features a conversation between Mimi Thi Nguyen (Slander, Race Riot) and Golnar Nikpour (former MRR coordinator) on different parts of punk: their personal histories, the notion of punk politics, punk as it is represented in academia & archives, the people in punk who are often dismissed, and more. From the Guillotine website — “Punk is a moving target”: Punk is an unwieldy object of study–because of fictions that circulate as truth, absences in archives and the questionable subject of recovery, and the passage of “minor” details into fields of knowledge. A conversation about the politics of methodology, and historiography, of subculture. 32 pages, letterpressed covers, necessary reading for punks everywhere.
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 / $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.