Zine Review: Proof I Exist 28

Proof I Exist 28
Billy McCall

Proof I Exist 28 is a quarter-sized perzine printed with blue ink on cream paper about life, family, and the ways we grow apart.

I feel almost flippant trying to sum up this zine – even though that’s what I do for every zine. This zine is one that is so full of emotion that you just know that it was hard for the author to write it no matter whether they say it or not. Does it somehow take away from the experience of the author for me to call it ‘heartbreaking’? Does it somehow lessen the zine itself? I don’t know.

This zine has me thinking on a number of levels.

Proof I exist takes us in a mostly linear fashion through Billy’s life – one of frequent moving, exposure to drugs, and few connections with the few being very deep ones. It soon emerges that this zine isn’t so much about Billy as it is about his closest relationships – his parents and more so his brother.

Billy writes in brief, numbered snippets, a style we learn at the end is inspired by ‘Bluets’ by Maggie Nelson. I’d never heard of Bluets nor seen this sort of writing, but it’s an art form by its own right. Sharing thoughts and ‘scenes’ in this numbered fashion feels almost life flipping through a scrapbook – each having its own little story and still fitting into the whole as well.

Two things emerge a lot in this zine: drugs and Billy’s brother. Drugs play a large role, both in how Billy’s decision not to use them influenced his life and how he perceived himself as well as how they influenced his brother’s life. And the latter is my rather bland way of putting it that doesn’t give too much of the actual content away.

This zine represents not only the stories Billy is sharing from his life but also an important step of acknowledging and starting to release some of the feelings he has wrapped up in his brother and their lives. He admits to waiting to write this even longer because he was waiting to see how the story would end. Alas…

“but this isn’t a movie, and the final scenes of resolution aren’t coming through all clean and smooth like they’re supposed to.”

This zine makes my heart said and makes me wish I could take Billy out for a long, leisurely cup of coffee where he could talk (or not talk) to his heart’s content. This zine, to me, is an example of one of the important facets of zines in giving us a way to process should we show choose to use it.

There is mention of drug and alcohol abuse, but if those things won’t cause problems for you, I highly recommend you pick up this zine.

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