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Xerography Debt is a review zine for zine readers by zine writers (and readers). It is a hybrid of review zine and personal zine (the ancestor to many blogs). The paper version has been around since 1999. This blog thing is are attempt to bridge the gap between Web 2.0 and Paper 1.0. Print is not dead, but it is becoming more pixelated.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mini-Comics Reviews in Library Journal

Hi all-

As you may know Library Journal has started reviewing zines. Superlibrarian Jenna Freedman edits it. I wrote this month's column, which reviews mini-comics.

I'm putting it here so it's still up after LJ takes it down. Sorry it's so long that it pushes other stuff pretty far down the page. If anyone can tell me a quick and easy way to create the equivalent of a LiveJournal cut (to create a "Read More" type link) here in Blogger, let me know. For now I may mess with the time-space continuum to put it below Davida's first post.


Zines
Edited by Jenna Freedman -- Library Journal, 5/1/2008

Mini-comics—self-published comic books that can be any size and vary greatly in terms of aesthetics, content, binding, and printing techniques—constituted only a small part of my library’s zine collection holdings, at Baltimore County Public, when the collection was established in 2005. It quickly became apparent that readers liked the comics, borrowing them 30–60 percent more often than other zines. We responded by moving the collection closer to the adult graphic novel section and shifting most of our purchases to a local, independent comics store and the annual Small Press Expo comic convention.

Now over half the titles in our zine collection are mini-comics, and we intend to keep circulating other zines as well in order to feed relevant materials to the tech-savvy and format-omnivorous Generation Y, a frequently overlooked core of library users. Unless otherwise noted, the following mini-comics recommendations are for adults. [Visit the library’s zine collection online at bcpl.info/zines or email bcplzines@gmail.com.]

Gauld, Tom Hunter & Painter Cabanon Pr. 2007. 24p. 9½" x 4". $4.95. buenaventurapress.com/books/index-BPB.php.

Painter, a caveman, agonizes over creating a new mural for his clan. His friend Hunter counsels, “Do another Bear Hunt, they lapped that up last year.” But Painter has a creative block and must find his own inspiration. The resultant painting and the clan’s reaction are a brilliant satire on art politics. British cartoonist Gauld’s comics often involve two nearly identical characters engaging in dry, hilarious, and thoroughly contemporary banter that contrasts to their ancient milieu. The melancholy visual sensibility, prehistoric setting, and leisurely comedic timing evoke B.C. as drawn by Edward Gorey. Yet Gauld’s own art is trenchantly original, without attracting any spear-wielding mobs.

Longstreth, Alec & others. The Dvorak Zine 2005. 24p. ½ size. $1. Free to download. dvzine.org. Distro: C, M

On graffiti, traveling, self-publishing, or typing, Longstreth’s mostly autobiographical comics have a laid-back and engaging style and art that’s precise, humorous, and easy to follow. Longstreth draws daily and participates frequently in group projects; he won an Ignatz Award for his work guest editing the sixth issue of the mini-comics anthology Papercutter (normally edited by librarian and zine publisher Greg Means). The Dvorak Zine is about retraining yourself as a typist on the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout. Written with Michael Cardiff (Frunch) and Gabe Carleton-Barnes (GCB), it includes fascinating typing history. Longstreth’s trademark überenthusiasm is apparent as is his frequent theme of the transformative experience of finding something that interests you and really getting to know it. Dvorak and Longstreth’s Phase 7 series installments are highly recommended.

Novgorodoff, Danica A Late Freeze 2006. 48p. ½ size. $6.50. danicanovgorodoff.com.

This near-wordless love story features a robot and a bear who meet after the robot escapes from its manufacturing plant. At the end of hibernation, the bear (pregnant with their child) leaves the cave for the local Cracker Barrel to satisfy a craving. There, she rescues a half-price stuffed frog who is weeping on the sales shelf. The gorgeously composed pages portray an almost cinematic reality where nature and development, past and present, simultaneously clash and mix. Imagine covered wagons juxtaposed with Chevron stations or the beautiful curve of a river filled with trash. The expected cuteness of an animal story is turned on its head by the dangers the characters face in the borderlands between forest and society. This slim, full-color booklet’s epic scope makes a great case for how a mini-comic can, like good poetry, benefit from an economy of words.

Mini-Reviews:

Jess S. On Being Jealous of Invertebrates Nos. 1–3. 2004–06. ¼ size. 50¢. myspace.com/skirtmuseum.

This funny and wistful mini-comic is very mini indeed—the first one is just six pages. Each new issue is a bit longer than the last, and all feature a mix of simple drawings and clip art, scientific facts about invertebrates, and oblique references to the emotional life of a twentysomething human female.

Kulik, Missy Ahoy There! 12p. $1. missykulik.com. Distro: L

Zine star Kulik has created dozens of other charming, tiny comics with titles like Half Boy/Half Stupid, Story of an Elephant, and Kneehigh Cats I Know. Most are appropriate for all ages. They are a great example of how mini-comics don’t have to be complicated to be satisfying.

Porcellino, John King-Cat Comics Nos. 56–68. 1999–2007. ½ size. $2–$3. king-cat.net. Distro: A, M, PP

Porcellino has been publishing King-Cat Comics and Stories since 1989. It’s not just the longevity of the series that accounts for its renown—Porcellino’s understated work has a Zenlike elegance that only improves with time.

DISTROS

A Amazon www.amazon.com

C Corndog Publishing corndog.co.uk

L La-La Theory thelalatheory.com/distro2.html

M Microcosm Publishing microcosmpublishing.com

PP Parcell Press parcellpress.com

You can usually buy the zine directly from the creator.

This column was contributed by Miriam DesHarnais, a librarian at Baltimore County Public Library. DesHarnais also reviews zines for Xerography Debt (leekinginc.com/xeroxdebt), a review zine with perzine tendencies.

Author Information
Jenna Freedman (ljzines@gmail.com) is Zine Librarian and Coordinator of Reference Services at Barnard College Library, New York. She is also a librarian zinester (Lower East Side Librarian, among others)

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