Who and What We Are

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, March 19, 2009

Reviews from Gavin Grant: Floation Device, Ker-Bloom, Oh No, the Robot, Prints Not Dead, Lazy Boy, Musea

No.11, $5, half-letter, 64pp., Keith Helt, 1242 Dean St., Woodstock, IL 60098. floatationdevice@gmail.com
Picked this up at some point (this issue came out in 2005) at Giant Robot in San Francisco. A long way to go for zines, but those were the days when a cross-country trip to get some reading material seemed like a sharp idea. And it was: this is a great zine. Keith gave all his stories to different comics artists to illustrate so, while he looks into his relationship to zining over the years, the many illustrators give it a ton of different looks. It’s almost worth the $5 for the cover which you could frame or just put up on your wall. It’s a great idea and his sense of joy at being part of the zining community is catchy.

No.74, $2+stamp, quarter-letter, 8pp., artnoose, 5532 Baywood St., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Yay! A Manifesto! This issue of the long-running letterpress-printed Ker-bloom! is titled “Pittsburgh Relocation Project” and it’s very persuasive. Artnoose and partner moved there so that they could have their “Dream Shop”—a print shop (see www.craftycards.net for their other print stuff) in the ground floor of their house. A year later, it’s done and now we should all move there. This zine makes it sound like an idea we should all be considering: free bikes and free screenprinting are both available, there aren’t many cops, there are loads of punk families, punk rock brunches (that may be an oxymoron, but it gets the meaning across), and so on. As economies around the world wait for China to start selling dollars and begin the big collapse, artnoose says Pittsburgh is readying itself for the apocalypse. Read the zine and get on your bike.

No.10, $2, half-letter, 12pp., Chris Morix, 23 Crystal Villa, Warman, SK, SOKOAI, Canada. ohnotherobot@hotmail.com

A set of short stories about a guy, maybe Chris, who hates much about life including dating, marriage, and other forms of partnership hooking up with a friend and wondering how it will go and whether it will last, some of which are illustrated by naïve-styled color illustrations. There are some great lines here: “The end is when you get to relax after the climax, take a deep breath, and begin plotting a way to do it all again.” It’s hilarious, mercifully short, and ends in a way that points to larger, weirder things. Something like Joe Meno meets Kevin Brockmeier.


Andrew Coltrin, Look for Signage, PO Box 40782, Tucson, AZ 85717, look_for_signage@yahoo.com

I love that when I read a good zine and google it I find a whole new bunch of interesting people. I just looked up Andrew’s other zine, Bony Landmarks, and came across a well-established distro shop (www.parcellpress.com) that looks like the next place on my buy tour of the internets. Um, right, liked the zine, too.

No.1, $2 US/$4 world/trade, quarter-legal, 80pp., Mike Baker, PO Box 1174, Tallahassee, FL 32302. gomek@comcast.net

Mike gives the reader fair warning for what to expect in his preface: it’s a trip through how fucked up he is, so don’t read it if you’re easily offended. It starts off gentle with a couple of letters from prisoners and a photocopied “fag story from the fifties.” Then comes, as it were, the exciting stuff: episodes of his sexual experiences that run the gamut. There are also a couple of nihilistic short short stories that didn’t do much for me.

No.163, $?, half-legal, 8pp., Tom Hendricks, Art with Craft, 4000 Hawthorne, #5, Dallas, TX 75219. tom-hendricks@att.net

Reprints an older essay of Tom’s, “Pentalium,” in which he calls for a Wiki-style collaborative world history to be written. (Does Wikipedia count? Not sure.) There’s also a nice short piece of MUSEA history that will mess up future historians. The last essay is on new ways to know the past. The last of these is astrology, so how you take it will depend on whether your mind is made up on that or not. I don’t think the past will be able to be read by looking at where the sun was or who was born on which days and so on, but maybe you do. I did like checking out his music at hunkasaurus.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maynard Reviews some Zines (March 2009)

Opuntia 66.1 November. 2008 ISSN 1183-2703
Dale Spiers
Box 6830
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2P 2E7
$3 cash for a one-time copy, no US checks or US stamps

Oil, oil and more oil. Dale Spiers discusses the driver of modern industry with alacrity. He assures us that Armageddon isn't really at hand, we are just going through yet another awkward economic convulsion, caused, in part, by oil speculators dumping their once-precious black-gold. Personally, I was hoping for Armageddon, as I don't want to have to save for retirement anymore.

Dale also reviews Reinventing Collapse (Dimitri Orlov, 2008). No one knows economic woes better than Russians, but this book will be an unpleasant wakeup call for us spoiled Westerners, whose privately owned dwellings and industries are completely subject to the value of our currency. In the recent Russian collapse, the currency was worthless and people had to rely on barter. This was possible because their housing and major industries are owned by the State, so at least the communities stayed together as housing ownership was unaffected. City dwellers could also go about living as they could use bikes and public transit to get around.

America's impending collapse will be spectacular. So horrifying, in fact, that I am tempted to dig a pit and fill it with Spam and gold bars. The future collapse would be fascinating if I didn't have to participate.

Think how lives will change with no money, no jobs, no cars and no cable! It's primitive as can be. Anyhoo, upshot is we'll have to rely on each other, learn to mend and make do, and give up our selfish, isolated, environmentally detrimental lifestyles, which is a pity because I enjoy having my own bathroom.

Also included are zine reviews.

When the Spam runs out, think of the good old days when you could read zine reviews on the Internet.

Sugar and Spite Presents
Angry Carrot and Diabolical Pea
Ali Thompson and Mikkie McGregor
PO Box 95
Runnemeade, NY 08078

$3 Other titles by these authors are reviewed below and prices vary per title.

These are the chronicles of a murderous pea and carrot who specialize in sophisticated riffs on great moments in history, and ironic illustration of text. Format is a quarter sheet with a quotation and accompanying crude stick-figure drawing to illustrate the concept in the quote.

My only admonition to the authors is the labeling Stairway to Heaven as a great tragedy in History. You young whippersnappers have no idea of the health benefits the DJ population derived from this song. Many years ago, before automated radio, Disc Jockies would play this classic, 6-minute tune, so they could go take a leek. This song is great on so many levels, but the thing that impresses me most is Led Zep was on some pretty heavy drugs and were able to hold and slide a tempo like nobody's business. Mega cool.

If you favor crude, yet erudite drawings, this will bring a grin to even the most jaded, history-major-cum-baristas out there.

Sugar and Spite Presents
Sad Robots
Ali Thompson and Mikkie McGregor
PO Box 95
Runnemeade, NY 08078
$3 Other titles by these authors are reviewed below and prices vary per title.

Brief allegory of the coming Age of Robots and how they sort of appreciate what they lost when they destroyed humanity. Deeply disturbing, but in a good way.

Sugar and Spite Presents
Revelation Chapters 1-11
Ali Thompson and Mikkie McGregor
PO Box 95
Runnemeade, NY 08078
$5 Other titles by these authors are reviewed below and prices vary per title.

Jesus help me! I am a huge sucker for the Book of Revelations, so forgive the Rave for this zine; it probably isn't as great as I think, but I am extremely biased with this sort of thing, and am unable to remain in the proper “reviewer” stance and have shifted over to hopeless fan.

The authors take the best of the Scripture, add some crude drawings, vivid color, and viola! A masterpiece.

The Four Horsemen illustration – alone - is worth $5.

ETC #1 Everybody that Creates: Regret
PO Box 678421
Orlando, FL 32867-8421

This zine has uneven content, and a lot of poetry, so if poesy makes you puke, skip it.

There are some gems in here. Poetical standouts are Song of Songs by Christopher Almond; Doctor Holdout by Curtis Meyer, and the Untitled Comic by Chuck E. Folgar.

This last offering, Untitled Comic, is the highlight of the zine for me. It's a brief comic which is a painfully funny study of what it's like to reveal all the wrong parts of yourself to others whom you wish to impress, and they subsequently reject you.

32 pages, half size
$2 US, $3 outside US, trades accepted
Ashlee Swanson
8150 W 30 ½ St. #306
St. Louis Park, MN 55426

For those of us who trembled at the thought that there was no replacement generation of zine-creators, think again. Ashlee Swanson's excellent zine on the confusing, twentysomething experience is a fine representation of the next generation of zinesters.

Ashlee captures that feeling of random, drunken-free-fall life. It's the oddly-in-between-time, when one isn't a teen, and isn't exactly sure who or what one is. I am still waiting for this period of life to come to an end, but I am a very slow learner. Ashlee shows us how she stumbled her way through her first years living on her own, and what she experienced as she learned about herself through her relationships with others.

Hand-lettered, slice-of-life style makes you feel you really know the author at zine's end.

Absent Cause, #2, January 2009
PO Box 1568
NY, NY 10276
$4 US; $5 Can/Mex; $5 World (includes shipping)
Trades OK
96 p; size: 5.5” X 8.5”

Essays and poems from numerous authors– mostly essays with a central theme of self acceptance or becoming part of a group.

The essays are top-notch, well-written, and highly engaging.

Topics include an interview with rocker Amanda Palmer; fat acceptance; the Muslim experience – one in NY city and one in Egypt; obsessive disorders; transsexuals; horror and fantasy fiction; poetry; and some amazing graphic and photographic art with very strong, sexual images.

The essay that made me stop and think even more than usual, is Andria Alefi's essay “Arab in the American world (or the other way around).” A first-generation, Arab woman describes her complex identity as an Arab-American; Arab-American mistaken for a Jew, and a daughter of immigrants. This essay is a generous, humorous, and complex take on the American Experience.

The revelation of the fear within the Arab-American communities to be themselves is heart-breaking.

The history of immigration to America is one of hazing. And that is for the folks who came here voluntarily. We have forgotten “Irish need not apply” and “No Italians Allowed” on the door of the local watering hole that was a hallmark of the turn of the last century.

Arab-Americans today are suffering a double-whammy of normal American xenophobia and freaky global politics resulting from stateless warfare techniques, which has been cruelly and incorrectly associated with Islam.

Can the Republic survive this episode and preserve Constitutional Integrity? We have an unpleasant chapter of American history to refer to: how we treated Japanese-Americans during WWII. I pray we have learned our lesson from this less-than-glorious period of our history.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

IN My Mailbox 3-11-09


Ah, spring is coming, the time of year that a young man's thoughts turn to baseball and illegally distilled homemade liquors. And also too, time for another trip to the PO Box!

This time around, a light load. Two bucks, a couple of letters, and just two publications:

- Intersections ($3, Eight Stone Press, PO Box 11064, Baltimore, MD 21212; www.eightstonepress.com). Man Bill Tandy and 8SP is a busy bunch, eh? And more power to 'em. I have no idea what this zine's about, frankly, as I haven't read it yet and it lacks the sort of easy-to-digest cover patter that a smooth mind like mine likes for easy distillation. But, they use a quote from me in one of their advertisements, so they rock.

- Zine World #27 ($4 US, $5 CAN, PO Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133; www.undergroundpress.org) Yea! Another issue of ZW, which we love. Contains a good review of TIS, as well, which is always nice, and a bad review of one of my novels, which is the risk you take. It's a *funny* bad review, which takes some of the sting out of it.

And that was it. Never a bad day when there's *something* in the box, so I ain't complaining.



Blog - http://www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/
The Inner Swine - http://www.innerswine.com

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Go listen...

A podcast about zine hosted by Mark Parker & Alex Wrekk. It's called the NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR STUPIC ZINE podcast and it has a wicked catchy theme song by Androo Robinson and I just found it to be an enjoyable listen.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reviews from Fred Argoff: Elephant Mess, FlavorVegan, Map of Fog, Musea, Opuntia, For the Clerisy

As we advance deeper and deeper into the 21st century, it comes as more and more of a surprise to find that zines live. Real zines, produced on paper, that you can hold in your hands. I find this to be very comforting. My own brother has been on my back for years to stop doing a hard copy zine and switch over to the e-version. He says I'm wasting my time. "Hah!" I reply to him. And also, "Fuhgeddaboudit!" So saying, it's time to see what was in the bulky envelope with the Maryland postmark...

ELEPHANT MESS. Now, really--how could you go wrong with a title like this? It's a mini-zine full of words. All kinds of words. In fact, #20 is subtitled "Extra Words." And they come under such flavorful headings as How to Repair Everything (I can't repair anything, so I'm pretty impressed by this), Green Tea and Suicide Notes, Ninja Movies and Curse Words at the County Fair. More words like this, I say! It's a Dan Murphy production, and he says he'll accept trades. Otherwise, $2 (US, Canada & Mexico; $3 rest of the world) gets you the next copy from Dan at P.O. Box 3154, Moscow ID 83843.

FLAVORVEGAN is a blog. Their operating philosophy is that vegan food, like life, should be full of flavor. OK, I can accept that; flavor is a good thing. And for those of us still living our lives away from the computer screen, they put out this little notice on paper to tempt us into making a visit. Once there, we find not only recipes, but photography and tutorials. The little teaser sent to me for review had a tasty-looking photo on the front that turned out to be the Pizza Sandwich. And no, I'm not listing the recipe here. You're going to have to check this one out for yourselves. But I'll tell you this much: that photo made it difficult for me to sit here and continue writing. All I could think about was pizza. http://flavorvegan.blogspot.com

At first, I thought that MAP OF FOG was a litzine. But upon further investigation, I realized that it's actually an urban oriented zine focusing on San Francisco...hey, wait a minute! It's practically a West Coast cousin of my own little contribution to zinedom (that would be BROOKLYN!) So then I couldn't wait to dive right in. And the first writing encountered in this, the premiere issue, concerns a suicide at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. But for your friendly local urban reviewer, the highlight of the zine was a piece entitled "These Stagnant Streets," about the Sunset District in SF, which the editor points out is not usually on the tourist's itinerary but probably ought to be. And there are photos to back up his textual assertions. Two thumbs up, and a gold star besides. I eagerly await further issues. $2, trades accepted, from Marcos Soriano, P.O. Box 27252, San Francisco CA 94127.

Well, I've reviewed MUSEA before, but Tom keeps putting out new issues and besides, I happen to like it. It's the zine devoted to the arts. No politics, no environment, no religion, no finance. Just the arts. Issue #166 (I told you Tom keeps putting out new issues, didn't I?) is the annual holiday story issue, a love story and mystery rolled into one. Here's the opening sentence: "Reich and Van Smith re-opened the taped packing tube with a ceremonious flare." Now try to tell me you aren't curious to see what develops from that point on. And guess what? Each issue is completely different, so you never have any idea what's on tap. No price listed, but for heaven's sake, make a contribution to the arts, willya? Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne (#5), Dallas TX 75219.

OPUNTIA is the coded zine. Each issue has a number on the front containing a decimal, so you know what to expect. .1 issues are reviewzines, .2 indexes, .3 apazines and .5 perzines. Here's issue 66.3, devoted to amateur press association zines. In particular, the Fantasy Amateur Press Association. Now you know the deal; ask for the topics that interest you. $3 cash for a one-time sample from Dale Speirs, P.O. Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2E7

And then there's FOR THE CLERISY. People are always confused by that title, and some avoid the zine because of it. But if you look it up, you'll find that the clerisy happen to be (the envelope, please)...people who read. Go figure! The zine's purpose of statement is twofold: one, to assure readers that other readers do, in fact, exist--a comforting assurance in the Age of the Internet--and two, to provide suggestions for expanding one's horizons through reviews of generally neglected books. Just as a small sampling, here in Vol. 15, No. 75 we find David Sedaris' "Barrel Fever," wherein ordinary people wind up in predicaments; Hannah Ropes' "Civil War Nurse," a collection of her correspondence; and "West with the Night," by Beryl Markham, the pioneering avatrix who was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic from London to North America. And there are letters of comment, too--not entirely surprising from people who read! No price listed, from Brant Kresovich, P.O. Box 404, Getzville NY 14068-0404.

And now I must curtail my reviewing activities in order to start working on the next issue of my own zine. Until next time, adieu, adios and foor gezuntaheit.