Pre-Existing is a full-colour, US-quarter-sized zine about various people’s experiences with disability, chronic illness, medication, and other related subjects during a pandemic.
Pre-Existing opens on the inside cover with a few article headlines about COVID and disability, warming the reader up for the content to come. What comes isn’t gentle, however, with the page opposite featuring an art piece called “Sacrificial Worker” featuring a worker with a medical ID bracelet on. It’s a little dark to see all the details of the art, but it still says so much about working during the pandemic.
What follows are short written pieces covering topics from getting diagnoses to getting/trying to get treatment in this ‘new world’. They are quick reads in word count, but they leave you with a lot to think about long after you’ve finished reading them.
There is hope mixed in with the frustration however, with one contributor writing this about having found a chronic illness support group:
“It was the first time I felt like I didn’t owe an explanation about why I couldn’t do something.”
Along with the Sacrificial Worker art being a bit too dark (printers are printers are printers), my other nitpick is that the text is cut a bit in a few places. That said, it didn’t pause me for long in my reading of this zine. There was also a small, considerate touch that I don’t see very often – washi tape put over the staples internally. That’s such a nice little touch (especially for someone who has been poked more than a few times by staples).
All up, Pre-Existing is a shorter read and one that I’m glad exists. This is one of those zines that helps us to have sympathy and empathy for each other, lets the contributors have a place to express themselves, and might even help some readers take it easier on themselves in whatever they are dealing with.