Queer!Content #5: Sadvertising – An Attempt At Healing
Sadvertising is a full colour A5 perzine about growing up in foster care, mental illness, and finding healing. Wolfram writes this in a memoir style, and it also includes poetry and photography.
Buckle up, zine friends. I have a lot to say about this one.
Sadvertising contains a lot of strong emotions right from the start. I pretty quickly got the impression that Wolfram was someone who feels very strongly about putting this out there but there’s also a sense of vulnerability that comes in doing so.
A content warning (foster care, mental illness, sexual violence) is very normal to see in a zine introduction, but this is the first I’ve read that almost dictates the terms of reading it. Wolfram clearly feels a desire to share these experiences – even if it means “pointing at those shitty people” – but doesn’t want to answer questions or have their writing called things like ‘brave’ or ‘heavy’.
While I did feel a little bit wary with the mention of pointing out ‘shitty people’, the whole tone of the introduction was different to most in a way that made me curious about what was to come.
After a poem and the introduction to the zine, Wolfram starts out writing about their early life and watching a parent deal with mental illness. Something that ultimately lead to Wolfram and their brother being put into the foster care system. From there, we learn about a life of growing up in foster care – both good and bad – and as Wolfram slowly discovers their sexuality.
There are so many things in this zine that brought up feelings of sympathy and empathy – not just because of my own background but also the thought of how just a mature conversation or two could have gone so far in so many situations.
The first half ends with a full colour mini-comic that you can easily take out of the zine and enjoy on its own. I do love a surprise ‘zine in a zine’ and found it an interesting addition that Wolfram calls ‘a breather’ before the second half.
The second half covers more of Wolfram’s late teens and adulthood. They write about making friendships online, outgrowing those friendships, and what it was like only ever being at a distance with those friends (in most cases).
The timeline jumps around a little bit more as Wolfram goes on to write about mental illness fears, not relating to other adults who have parents they can rely on, and disconnections from others’ experiences.
There is a section in amongst this called ‘Femme in Question’ that steps away from the otherwise more traditional memoir style this zine felt like through the rest of it. In an anonymous ‘dear you’ style rant, Wolfram doesn’t hold back about their feelings whatsoever. I must admit I was thrown out of the ‘reading zone’ I had been in otherwise by this section. However, I fully admit that I was only thrown because I’d identified with the book memoir style, and it did work well in reminding me that I was reading a zine.
Toward the end, there is also a piece that discusses ungendering discussions of sexual violence and how not doing so can and does cause problems for male victims in queer spaces. I can see this being an extremely sensitive subject and don’t think it’s right for me to express an opinion within the conversation, but it did lead me to wonder if Wolfram will make a zine solely on that topic alone.
Sadvertising ends on a hopeful note of self-word and, dare I say, self-respect. I have a better understanding of the introduction and their desire for their story to be taken as it is rather than made into something other than one life and one life perspective.
I think if you like memoirs and are okay with the content warnings, then this is a zine to check out.