Zine Reviews

Zines are given special consideration here because we encourage people to make a tangible document over thought explored only online. One way to view a zine maker is as a guerilla fighter. If we had more time and energy, we could also write about the more organized magazines & newspapers such as Fifth Estate, Earth First, Black Seed etc. that we are inspired by and want to see more widely read.

No Gods, No Mattress 23

$3-4.00 enola d P.O. Box 3936 Berkeley, CA 94703

No Gods, No Mattress 23 is Enola’s latest very personal perzine. It’s the sex issue. It’s done in an aesthetically pleasing cut-and-paste typewriter style and is thick at 68 pages. My favorite thing about it is the beautiful voice it’s written in. Language is playful and fresh. Content covers childhood sexual abuse, a failed attempt at riding freight to Portland, travel, staying in a shack, health, getting older, personal style, crying, queerness, dating, feelings about sex. I found myself relating. Vulnerable yet fun, this is a zine the world needs. (Nest)

(Piltdown) Behind the Wheel #1&2

Kellydessiant.com/piltdown PO Box 22974 Oakland CA 94609

This personal zine captures the collected thoughts and experiences of a low wage ride share driver. He interprets the invasion of high tech “Jerks” that he services and also spells out the destruction of the local counter culture. War stories abound. But this zine humanizes the aggressors revealing that they are actually fallible people who are struggling — a few of them are even well intentioned. Much of the money floating around is unsustainable and this zine reveals that the techies are a door knock away from shitting in the streets themselves. What was most alarming about reading this was the subtle admissions by the author of the wreck of a life that’s to be squeezed from driving a ride share — one in which his body is being worn down. All this hustling just to get by with no security for getting old or having any money at the end of the road. A document of the rotting corpse of capitalism. (egg)

The Political Pre-History of Love and Rage: Anarchist Struggle in the 1980s and 1990s

by the Anarchist History Nerd Brigade anarchisthistory.noblogs.org

The text of this ‘zine was largely adopted from the article After Winter Must Come Spring: A Self-Critical Analysis of the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and The 1997 Love and Rage Members Handbook. For anyone interested in how a serious attempt at organizing first a North American wide Anarchist newspaper then a continent wide revolutionary Anarchist organization in the 1990s was able to form groups and co-ordinate the efforts of already existing organizations in the U$, Mexico and Canada, please check this ‘zine out. What I found most fascinating, was how many of the protests and anti-authoritarian movements in the 2000s were clearly descendents from happenings in the 1980s, such as protests against the major political parties’ conventions in the U$ in 1988. I also was excited to read of how Neither East Nor West had emerged as an Anarchist response to a Revolutionary Communist Party U$A (RCP) front group, No Business As Usual. For all the debate that goes on about how to try to maneuver as anti-authoritarians in or out of such organizing in the U$, when it does at least sometimes manage to bring great numbers of people out in to the streets around just causes, it added another perspective I hadn’t seen or heard before and would be interesting to learn more about. (By A. Iwasa)

Cometbus #56

It has been well over a year since Cometbus #55 but this was well worth the wait! This issue is 112 pages of an aging punk’s perspectives on being a book dealer in New York City in an A to Z format. This issue has all the usual witty and curmudgeonly comments that make Cometbus fun and worth reading no matter what the topics covered are. Once a friend who saw me reading Cometbus said “I can’t tell if you’re laughing or crying when you’re reading that,” to which I replied, “Neither can I.” This applied to #56 just as much as previous editions. (By A. Iwasa)

Rabbit Rabbit Rasbbit #3


A zine can resemble anything from a pamphlet to a magazine. The number of variations is part of the medium’s charm. This work has pages that look like assembled collage. The photocopier is used to capture animal bones, novelty buttons and sewing supplies to decorate the written word. The ideas that are captured can be confused with poetry at times and is condensed with revolutionary euphoria. The largest body of writing is a tour diary that will speak to people who are immersed in the punk music scene. Overall this issue is a powerful directory of the underground in cities across America. (egg)

Functionally Ill #18

$2 + shipping, 4 1/4” x 5 1/2”, 20 pgs. robotmad@gmail.com www.etsy.com/shop/robotmad

It’s tricky to write about the topics which Laura Marie covers in Functionally Ill. It’s tricky because depression is boring. All emo teenage posturing to the contrary, it is boring to struggle to get out of bed every day, or to be able to think of nothing but killing yourself. So how do you write about those things in a way that anyone would want to read? I think the tendency is to go too far away from realism; to romanticize it. But there is nothing romantic about these topics, and the danger in romanticizing them is that it might make some people less likely to get help, thinking that their suffering is some glamorous badge of honor. So, again, how do you write about them in a way that’s readable but not romantic? Laura-Marie seems to have achieved it. This short zine is broken up into bite-sized chunks. It includes excerpts from letters to friends, and stories about attending a support group, about feeling suicidal, and about the fear of moving to a new place and leaving her favorite therapist behind. Her writing style is succinct and sharp. Each section is like a tiny arrow that makes you wince in recognition or think: “Damn, it would be awful to go through that.” One thing I like about the way Laura-Marie addresses mental illness is that she does not push the medical model, but she doesn’t flat-out reject it, either. She takes the viewpoint that medication can be helpful, but that are many other factors involved in mental illness, and only community and therapy can help with those. My favorite sections of the zine come at the end – “visualization for the suicidal me or you” and “affirmations for the suicidal me or you.” Thanks, Laura-Marie. (Rust Belt Jessie)

Fixer Eraser #s 1-4

2 3/4” x 4 1/4”, between 8-16 pgs. (Jonas, PO Box 633, Chicago, IL, 60690)

I was so bummed when I found out that Jonas would no longer be writing Cheer the Eff Up. The six issues of that zine put him way up on my list of favorite ‘personal’ zinesters, right alongside Cometbus and Crabb and Miller. But, I am happy to say, Jonas is not done with zines. He is now publishing Fixer Eraser. Each issue, from 1-4, is 1/8 sized, and either 8 or 16 pages long. Though they’re tiny, they pack a punch. They feature the kind of writing I’ve come to expect from Jonas — bitter, no hard truths held back, yet not completely despairing. One thing that impresses me most about Jonas’ writing is that he doesn’t pretty things up. He digs right into the dark heart of life, and does not try and turn that darkness into beauty.

Still, while they don’t spare any sorrow, they each offer something to hold on to. Each issue of Fixer Eraser is based around some sort of story or theme. #1 is about how broken robots keep moving. #2 is about love and good pairs of boots. #3 is about identity and ally-ship and houses on fire. And #4 – the most recent and by far the most poignant of the four — is about art and death, and it leaves you with this: you are not alone. (Rust Belt Jessie)

Passionate and Dangerous: Conversations with Midwestern Anti-Authoritarians and Anarchists

edited by Mark Bohnert, distributed by AK Press.

Comprised mostly of interviews done in 1998 and ‘99 with radicals from Chicago and Springfield, IL; St. Louis and Columbia, MO; Detroit, Bloomington, rural and urban Tennessee, and one undisclosed location; there are also a couple interviews with national and international activists Peter Schumann of Bread and Puppet Theater and Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry, and an excerpt from ex-Black Panther Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin’s Anarchism and the Black Revolution. Projects range from making art, media, cooperative living, workers’ collectives and running an Infoshop.  This is an amazing snapshot of late ’90s heartland radicalism in an area way too many people consider flyover country.  Bohnert also obviously made a point of including the voices of women, people of color and queers in a non-tokenizing fashion.  A couple of historical pieces show how these movements were grounded in longstanding traditions. (A. Iwasa)

SF Resistor #1&2

sfresistor@riseup.net resistor.spaz.org

This features reporting and storytelling from a squatter’s perspective that documents the last 4 years of the shifting terrain in San Francisco and is an example of someone who has given themselves up totally with the economic struggles in one of the world’s most expensive cities. He now lives free and writes with the conviction that this is the future we must consider. Proof that the counter culture may win people over with rad art – a zine like this could knock someone over whose on the fence to our side. The politics and prose have heart and are very coherent – a rare blend. . (egg)

Bacon in the Beans #4

PO Box 4912 Thousand Oaks CA 91359 $3 U.S. $6 Global

A hodge podge of humor and storytelling with a punk attitude and inclination to the music scene. A couple of prisoners are given space – as well as a degenerate thug who use the “B” word to painful degrees. Another strike is the horrible font used on some pages that is too small to read or is just badly scribbled. Enough variety here with comics, reportage and delivery for it not to be a waste of your attention span. (egg)

Fix My Head #4-7

$4.50 US per copy fixmyhead.storenvy.com blog: annaxvo.tumblr.com

A radical Person Of Color publication, this covers a dynamic range of activists, punks and really smart people who are overlooked. Largely presented in interview format, issue #7 breaks routine and is all articles. The content is confrontational with the issues that are suppressed or maligned in mainstream discourse. More than anything I get the feeling that there is a lot of zeal in the production of this without being zealot. It is this kind of concerted effort as seen on the page here that does a lot to make for real social change. By highlighting marginalized people and their work it should make it more inviting for you to participate in radical politics. (egg)

P.U. #1

Free in Portland $2 in the mail portlandundergroundpaz@gmail.org

Talented artists are assembled together here on large pages of newsprint. Hardly any articles, just visuals to wow you. The art is similar to their neighbor publication Pork but without the lame regressive anti-PC front — and way more space to appreciate the pictures. This publication may be born out of dissatisfaction with Pork and the other sorry ass things to look at which often have more ads than organic ideas. Various styles of art are represented that resemble everything from comic books to galleries. The subject matter includes the bizarre, spiritual, impressionistic and political. The paper is funded by the artists who are in it. The next issue is due out in June so move to the City of Roses, save some money for a page and get to work making it come alive. (egg)

gardening is for eaters

Laura-Marie, robotmad at gmail dot com

This so far is a stand alone ‘zine by one of my favorite ‘zinesters whose other work primarily focuses on mental illness and relationships, frequently expressed in poetry. As usual this one is thought provoking and well written. It includes interviews with three different gardeners with practices ranging from Permaculture and Guerrilla Gardening to Grow Biointensive. Books and the names of organic gardening and farming rock stars are cited for those interested in further research. Laura-Marie weaves her own experiences and feelings about agriculture through the text. Unfortunately, I think she put the cart before the horse by making a comprehensive list with brief descriptions of the things she was growing at the time with one of the interviewees after the intro and before the interviews. This was a bit tedious and would have made more sense as an appendix. In the middle of this, she also offers a recipe which includes one of the plants, which I think probably should have just been printed since I think brief and easy tutorials are one of the best potential components of ‘zines, and a lot of people could have missed the offer being buried in a list. (A. Iwasa)