Mini-Zine Review: Too Pretentious For Melbourne

Too Pretentious for Melbourne: How to Alienate a Community You’re Desperately Trying to Build
Sober Bob
IG: @soberbobmonthly
soberbobmonthly@gmail.com

I have heard the expression so much, but reading this zine title is the first time I’ve actually said, “Shots fired…”

Too Pretentious for Melbourne is a zine about Sober Bob’s recent journey to Melbourne and Festival of the Photocopier. In it, Bob shares thoughts about Melbourne the city as well as thoughts on FotP.

As much as the title and the first paragraph of this zine prepared me for some toasty hot flaming, I found myself very glad that Sober Bob took it back a bit to the prep for travel and the like rather than launching straight into critique. Not only does it make the whole ‘story’ complete, it reminds the reader that this isn’t some random, faceless rant; this is a real person sharing their experience.

I quite like Melbourne and was gearing myself up to defend it, as I wasn’t sure what to expect with this zine. I love to perve on a good flaming as much as the next person, but Melbourne? Alas, I found myself nodding along. Sober Bob definitely takes a few solid prods at the Victorian capital, but nothing that I think is unwarranted. Reading along, I was reminded of the town I live in: a place considered lovely but ever searching for more, different, shiny and so on ways to identify itself.

But what about FotP? What would Sober Bob say about that?

I felt more geared up to defend FotP than Melbourne itself, which may have been a touch more warranted, as Sober Bob is more direct with criticisms of the event. Again, I found myself nodding along. Some might argue that it’s semantics, but I looked at the things written as weaknesses for FotP rather than blatant ‘this is wrong’. I think Sober Bob made some very good points about tweaks that could be made for a more enjoyable experience for all. As much as there is frustration there, I think it came from a place of experience (as Sober Bob has participated in organising zine events).

Aesthetically, I really love this zine and want to see more like it. There are little notes, drawings, and doodles to go along with everything. While they refer to what is being written about in the main type, they are almost like bonus content within the zines. Director’s commentary, if you will.

For something that is a critical piece, I feel like this could be the beginning of a conversation – or comparing notes, at least. It’s a growl and a touch of rant, but I think it’s born of dashed expectations and the knowledge that things can be better. Melbourne… I don’t know what to do about Melbourne. But Festival of the Photocopier is experiencing growing pains. Commentary, even in zine form, can be taken on board to improve things for the future.

All up, this zine made me nervous at first, because any kind of conflict (even simply perceived) gives me anxiety. But I ended up getting right into what Sober Bob has written here and appreciate that making this zine means that at least Bob gives a damn.

*Apologies for using the Happy Mail picture to show the cover of the zine. I can’t seem to find anything today – neither the picture I already took of the zine alone nor the zine itself so I can take another picture. Grrrr.

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