Secondhand Emotion / $3 / 2 oz
Finding this zine submission in the distro’s po box is one of my true zine-related highlights of 2015. Subtitled “a zine about love, anxiety, gender, race, and feelings,” Cassandra explores her anxiety around romantic relationships in a very open & authentic way. She digs through her familial relationships, her friendships, and her past romantic relationships to examine the complicated feelings she harbors about being a black feminist woman who seeks love. This zine is super text-heavy, with pieces on the Black Lives Matter movement, problematic white feminism, & tattoos as self care filling up the second half of its pages. I can’t wait to read the forthcoming second issue. Highly recommended.
Secondhand Emotion #2 / $3 / 2 oz
I really loved the first issue of this zine & so I was thrilled to discover that the second issue is also incredible. It carries the subtitle of “navigating the politics of attraction in late capitalism through a nihilistic feminist lens” & the writing inside is candid & powerful. Here Cassandra looks back on past relationships (& her actions once they ended) in order to dig through feelings about race + location + desirability + social capital. In doing so she works through difficult questions & realizations about herself, her past partners, and her community. This is one of the best zine series being published today, I promise you.
The Sinew That Shrinks / $2 / 2 oz
This is Sassyfrass Circus, continued, renamed. It feels very much like pieces pulled from a diary, from a sketchbook, from scribbled-on scraps of paper, all copied & pasted into something that, presented together, create a larger story of where Jenna is at in her life right now. It feels — and looks — very much like a scrapbook, text & art that makes more sense together than alone. Jenna’s striking comics are littered throughout: ones remembering the late artist Mark Aguhar, one telling the visual side of a story about her grandmother’s ever-present piece of jewelry, and more. Text-based pieces, which include Jenna’s own writing and quotes from things she has been reading lately, reveal uncertainty, transition, & fear. This issue feels darker than past writings of Jenna’s, but it’s just as exceptional.
Small Bikes Big Trees / $2 / 2 oz
Jen & Benji created this zine to document a bike tour from Seattle to San Diego, or as the subtitle says, “Two Brown Folks Brave the Pacific Coast, From One Hometown to Another.” I’m not a cyclist, but the stories inside are so, so rad. Along the way Jen & Benji embrace adventure (even though it can be scary and hard), have run-ins with sometimes weirdo / sometimes helpful strangers, and push themselves in new ways. Their tales are written through a critical lens, with writing about how gender + bodies + race were wrapped up in their tour, because those things are tangled up in everything, always. Also included are tips for long bikes trips: what to eat, where to stay, how to tour for cheap, and more. I love this zine so much. Highly recommended.
Small Magic #1 / temporarily sold out
I knew I would be into this zine from the very start, when Hannah described seeing graffiti that read protect your magic and the meaning she found in it (hooray for those small reminders to keep building a good life!). This zine is about some tough topics, but it’s also super positive & hopeful. Hannah writes about social anxiety & depression, her experiences being on & off antidepressants, being surrounded by a supportive queer community, coping mechanisms to get through the daily grind, tiny acts of self care, nutrition & disordered eating, & more. Hannah’s last zine was seven years ago, but let’s hope that her next one comes sooner, as this is one of the best new zines I’ve read in a long time.
Telegram #39 / $3 / 1 oz
Maranda says of this issue, “Telegram #39 is about examining the ways poverty, trauma, and chronic pain shape & alter & distort my perceptions of myself, my body, & my imagination.” I’ve already read this zine twice & I know I’ll read it again — it’s that good. It’s one long essay that reads like an open letter or diary entry, and Maranda doesn’t hold back when writing about how poverty & trauma & chronic pain have affected them throughout their life and into the present day. They lay bare their reality, they dream & ask questions & seek out coping strategies, they keep living. This is one of the best issues of Telegram I’ve ever read, & I’ve been reading it for years & years. Highly recommended.
Thou Shalt Not Talk About the White Boys Club: Challenging the Unwritten Rules of Punk / $3.50 / 2 oz
This is the second, expanded edition of a zine Sari wrote in 2012. They acknowledge their shifting perspective on some of what was in the earlier edition, and yet it’s still a striking examination of the flaws found in punk, and the ways it pushes away folks (many of whom are women, people of color, trans, queer, or genderqueer) who feel betrayed by it. It’s split into seven sections: race and gendered expectations for dress and behavior; perpetuating misogyny, girl hate, and “special snowflake” syndrome; accessibility, faux unity, and ironic perpetuation of racism in punk; influence, creative participation, and going behind the music; mosh pits, white masculinity, and normalized aggression and anger; purity in politics, behaviors, and interest; and trying to incite positive change in the scene. There is so much to take in — this zine is 58 text-heavy pages — & it will probably break your little punk heart a bit more than it already has been, but if you’re up for it, it will also challenge you to make punk better.
Tongueswell #2 / $2 / 1 oz
Jen follows up the first phenomenal issue of her newest zine project, Tongueswell, with yet another fantastic zine. Jen first offers up an essay about going to the doctor — how various doctors throughout the years have scolded her about her weight, & the effect this has had on her physical & mental health. She then recounts a recent medical scare & how a diagnosis has changed her. Shifting gears a bit, Jen writes about toxic relationships & the patterns found in them (this part is especially essential reading). She finishes the zine with a lengthy section entitled “on interacting with the world while single” that depicts her experiences navigating through brief but intense makeout sessions, misogynistic dudes who try to chat her up, & disastrous & strange OK Cupid dates. Jen’s writing is a reflection of her settling into the person she is, & it’s rad to watch as she builds a sweet life for herself.
The Tyranny of Civility / $4 / 2 oz
The four lengthy essays in this zine are centered on, as the subtitle says, “the choice between black liberation and white comfort.” Marc writes about the racial & gendered implications of respectability politics and tone policing, the reasons why empathy isn’t enough to threaten social oppression, how white folks need to work through their personal discomfort with the ways in which people of color voice their resistance to racial oppression, the harm in framing of disruption as “violence,” and so much more. This zine is pointed & passionate, and it’s absolutely necessary reading. Highly recommended.