Zine Review: Pieces #13 on being a romantic asexual

Pieces #13 on being a romantic asexual
IG: @corridorgirl

Pieces #13 is a black and white quarter-sized perzine “on being a romantic asexual” that also serves as an introduction to asexuality and the asexuality spectrum.

I hardly know where to start with Pieces #13. It’s one of those zines that I absolutely devoured and that left me with so, so much to think about. I like perzines, and I like learning things. This zine happened to be an intense combination of both.

Aesthetically, Nichole’s zines have always been appealing to me (as mentioned in reviews of previous Pieces reviews). I do so love a thick quarter-sized zine, and I like how the cut and paste style is fun but not overly distracting from the writing.

Oh, the writing.

Nichole manages to be frustrated, informative, vulnerable, and many other things, all within one zine. While the pieces do cut from one to another – the intro being distinctly perzine, the laments being vulnerable, and the FAQ/comments responses being a mixture of many things. Nichole doesn’t need to say the obvious because feelings come through so clearly in the writing.

There is a section in the back where Nichole responds to questions and comments regarding asexuality. I felt so, so frustrated that people could say and ask those things. At the same time, I have to respect Nichole for addressing them anyway.

I found the spectrum of asexuality absolutely fascinating. Like many (I imagine), I was part of the problem in that I only ever saw it as the ‘you don’t’ side of ‘you do or you don’t’ when it comes to sex. I had no idea that there’s not only a spectrum but that there are other names as well. Thanks to this zine, I’ve not only learned things about asexual people but may have clarified a thing or two for myself as well.

I think this is a great resource not only for people who are still figuring out the facets of their asexuality but also for anyone who has even a little open mindedness in learning more about asexuality. It’s a zine I want everyone to know about because I know it’ll be valuable to those who are looking for zines on the subject (and more beyond them).


Zine Review: Pieces #11 On Connecting Through Friendships, Letters & Zines

Pieces 11 Zine

I’m not sure what’s going on with my colouring in this pic because the cover of this zine is definitely yellow, not cream/tan/whatever.

Pieces #11 On Connecting Through Friendships, Letters & Zines

I’m usually so utterly focused on reviewing things in order, but when you have a zine series you love, you make exceptions…

In a way, jumping from Pieces #5 to Pieces #11 has been interesting in that Nichole’s writing ‘voice’ has changed so much. There seems to be this level of inner acceptance in this zine that I didn’t pick up in previous zines. That’s one of the reasons I love being able to ‘stay with’ a zine series over time – people change and grow.

That being said, I was very happy to see that Nichole’s cut and paste style that I have loved over the course of this series is still going strong in #11.

Nichole talks about taking a new approach to interactions with people, the beauty of letters, and meeting penpals in person in the setting of Chicago Zine Fest 2014. The inner acceptance that I mentioned earlier really shows in the beginning pages,the very first starting with the words “hello, hello” and the second pages displaying her mailing address with an open invitation to connect.

The funny thing is that I felt this shyness come over me at such an invitation. Not unpleasantly so, though.
The zine wraps up with beautiful thoughts about cultivating ‘second homes’ – those spaces where we feel safe to stop in and comfortable enough to stay. I loved the imagery and loved being reminded of little things that I can do to make my own life a happier one.

For me, the Pieces series continues to be everything I want in a perzine in both aesthetic and content. Nichole makes me think but doesn’t lecture, and I always feel welcomed in rather than forced to watch from the outside.
Definitely grab a copy.

Zine Review: Pieces #5 On Change

Pieces 5

Pieces #5 On Change

I’ve reviewed Pieces 1-4, so if you’d like to check them out, you can find the links in my recently updated *cough*it’sabouttime*cough* Zine Review Index.

When I first get a zine, I have a quick scan to get a sense of the layout and what kind of zine I’m about to get into. The Pieces series never fails to be a pleasurable scan. I am a huge fan of the A5/regular page half-fold zine, but there’s something about the A6(ish for US friend paper) size that makes it feel a tiny bit more like a zine. A fun little treasure just for me. Pieces #5 is a smidge smaller than A6, and I love it.

Plus, I love how she continues to use white text on black for the change to more stream-of-consciousness type writing. The visual change to go along with the writing style change is a nice touch.

Now enough about paper, Nyx. Not everyone has teh lurve for the stationery like you do.

Pieces 5 is all about, you guessed it: Change. Looking to go back into regular work, contemplating a move and facing fears are topics that we can all identify with. As with previous issues, Nichole does so with that hint of vulnerability that makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with a close friend.

It’s strange to read something that was written in the past (2011) and yet have it apply so well to things I’m dealing with now. This zine is all about change, and Nichole’s writer-ly background along with a keen craving for the creative sits her well with what 2015 Nyx is sorting through. Maybe I have a severe case of narcissism, but even when the situations are different, her questions and thoughts ring true.

The beautiful thing about a perzine is that it’s like getting to know a person. You can read all sorts of things, but they can still surprise you. Nichole’s foray into S&M was a surprise but a pleasant one. I admire her bravery in a number of ways: admitting her wants and needs to herself, pursuing them with another person, and writing about the whole lot. As I contemplate what to write in my second perzine, I read what Nichole has shared and think deeply about what I could share with the world.

Another win for Nichole in the Pieces series. I’m very happy to see that she is continuing on with Pieces and is on Pieces #12. Looks like I’ll have to catch up.

Zine Review: Pieces #4 On Lucid Dreaming

Pieces 4

Pieces #4 On Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming! I love lucid dreaming. I’ve only done it a few times, but each time has been amazing. But, moving on, because this is not a review of my lucid dreams.

The beauty of having so many issues of a zine is that I get to see it grow and change. In Pieces #4, I feel like we’ve gone from life musings in a general sense to something ‘outside’ Nichole that she’s passionate about. This zine is packed full not only with her experiences but also with information on lucid dreaming – like techniques to use to help you achieve lucid dreaming.

I really enjoyed that. I feel like it’s a lucid dreaming handbook that I can refer back to when I feel the need. There’s even a list of resources for further reading, which I always appreciate.

About half of the zine is dedicated to her dream diary. Dreams are like sports to me, though: I’d rather be in the action than watching (or reading, in this case) it all happen. Even so, this zine is a keeper.

Zine Review: Pieces #3 On Writing, Drinking & Demons

Pieces 3

Pieces #3 On Writing, Drinking & Demons

I understand now what drives a lot of people to do this and, more importantly, the vague reasons why.

Pieces #3 is one of those zines where I want to quote everything because I identify with this, and with this, and with this…

You get the picture.

From the beginning, Nichole had me with this zine for a number of reasons. Perhaps because I’ve been so desperate to write – to actually finish something. Or perhaps because I’ve been exactly where she was when she made this zine: longing for the possibilities an altered state of mind might provide. I, too, used to look down my nose at people who did such things, but I also now understand why they do it…

As Nichole states on the first page, this zine was written over two days in a flow-of-consciousness style while she swims to the bottom of a bottle of Captain Morgan. It’s an interesting transition as the first strip of black is put on the page partway through the journey and ends with white text on a page of black – plus a photocopied, handwritten page almost as if to prove it had happened.

Even in the literally darkest part of the zine, she seems unsure to the point of needing ‘proof’. Or I could just be reading into it too much. Either way, I still feel the urge to take her out for an ice cream and tell her that I really like her zines.

The next morning in the zine dawns bright once again with black-bordered type on white pages. Attempts to write disappear completely in the wake of ice creams and conversations. While the whole thing left Nichole feeling like she wasn’t sure whether it was a success or not, I see it as the former. After all, I think producing words requires ‘getting out and living a bit’.

For the anxious and shy, sometimes that requires alcohol.

Drinking never seems to accomplish what I initially set out to do…

I hear you.

Somethin’ somethin’.Read More »

Zine Review: Pieces #2 On Girls & Wondering

Pieces 2

Pieces #2 On Girls & Wondering

This zine is about the handful of girls in my life that really made an impact on me.

I think there is a true, deep value in being able to look at past relationships and feel the feelings without getting lost in them. In this zine, I think Nichole makes a beautiful tribute to women she has met. From her first kiss to realisations of unrequited love, we get to view the women that influenced her life as she views them.

Nichole shares her awkward moments in ways that are endearing and yet ‘are what they are’. She doesn’t indulge in fantasies of what could have been or should have been. When you’re reading, you get a real sense of how she appreciates them even though, in her own words:

…things didn’t work out the way I wanted with any of them…

What was especially gorgeous for me is that there are a couple of women who don’t have names. Why is this gorgeous? Because it reminds me that you never really know whose life you’re influencing. You might think that everybody thinks your [X], but it just so happens someone out there is too nervous to ask you out. Or even to say hello.

Love it.

Zine Review: Pieces #1 On Writing, Reading & Growing Up

Pieces 1

Pieces #1 On Writing, Reading & Growing Up

This zine (and #2-#5) came through a trade I made a few years ago thanks to the We Make Zines site. Nichole prefers trades to outright sales, so my financially-challenged self was quite happy.

I had a good feeling that I would like this first one because I am an author (and was back when I made the trade, too) and love a lot of things that are writing-related. This zine did not disappoint.

Pieces takes a ‘snippets of life’ approach to her zine with, well, snippets of her life. Bits and pieces that surround reading, writing, authors and what it means to grow up as a creative person. She does skip around in time – jumping forward and back – but chronology doesn’t matter as much as the feelings of the scenes involved. While my glitchy self would have loved chronology, my free love hippie self was happy to go with the flow.

What was even better is how many experiences Nichole and I had in common. For instance, I also wrote for Young Authors when I was in school. I also started using British spellings in school only to be told a resounding no. (Yay for moving to Australia and putting extra letters in all sorts of words! Colour!) While she was not allowed to read at the table, I was not allowed to write. But we were both convinced (if only a little bit) that the characters would get up to something while we were away.

We’ve even both met Garth Nix.

I won’t give it away, but the zine ends on an exhilarating (especially if you’ve done it yourself) note that leaves you wanting to know what happened next.

Zine Review: Wiseblood 66

Wiseblood 66

Wiseblood 66 is a 1/2 size black and white perzine with three stories of alcohol, drugs, and the strange relationships we develop with people sometimes.

Fishspit opens this zine with recalling what it was like to be a mentally ill teen before the days of school counsellors and openness about mental illness. Amongst bullying and a lack of avenues for help, Fishspit finds an unexpected friend in alcohol – and in the person who introduces him to it.

From the stolen secondhand whiskey, he writes in the two pieces that follow about accidental cigarette fires and what happens when you’ve had alcohol for so long that it doesn’t really get you drunk anymore.

While you might end up smiling a little at the shenanigans in the name of getting alcohol in Fishspit’s youth, he shows you in the same ‘it is what it is’ memoir tone the harsher realities of being an adult alcoholic and drug user.

Fishspit’s almost stream of consciousness style writing may wander here and there, but it still carries you easily through the zine.

With the first story being about Fishspit’s first taste of alcohol (and second, and third…), and the second story being about bad things that happened while drunk, I found myself hoping the third story would be about finding AA. But it isn’t, and I realise that’s only appropriate. Life doesn’t always culminate on a high note, and it certainly doesn’t obey neat and tidy story beats.

I think that’s what fascinates me about these zines – they remind me that life is often anything but pretty.

If you’re sensitive to politically incorrect words (or topics like bullying, alcoholism, drug use, etc) then this may not be the zine read for you. But if you like gritty memoir style writing, definitely get in touch. Fishspit is always looking for new mail friends.

Zine Review: Eldritch Yourself

Eldritch Yourself
Meeni Levi

Eldritch Yourself is an A5 full colour zine of art and poems.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, poetry often flied right over my head. I’m afraid this zine is not an exception to that. But, for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts:

Despite the poetry being a little beyond my grasp, I did like Meeni’s use of ‘imagery’ words and phrases. Mirrors and falling into rabbit holes, for instance, are easy (for me) to imagine and gave me something to play with in my mind.

‘Eldritch’ means ‘weird and sinister or ghostly,’ which put an interesting spin onto the poetry and the zine itself. I can’t help but feel like the entirety of the zine is meant to make you feel uneasy (in a good, horror movie viewing kind of way). There’s the combination of bright colours and darker images conjured by the words. The cover art is a splatter with what could be argued is a ‘scribbling out’ using ink.

Even the use of the word ‘eldritch’ seemingly as a verb rather than an adjective throws things a little. (Or does that only inspire weird feelings in editor types?)

Thinking about all of that, it’s quite clear to me that this zine is as much a collection of art and poetry as it is a piece of art in and of itself.

Aesthetically, this zine is great with plenty of colours and thick enough paper so there isn’t bleed through or shadowing distracting from what’s on the next page. It’s a combination of mediums from handwriting on torn up pieces of paper for the table of contents to things written in what is either lipstick or rough crayon.

The binding is great with green thread woven in and out of the spine.

I liked looking through this zine and liked the strong image words, but I think, as a whole, it may have been a little lost on me. If you are poetry and/or art inclined, I think you’ll enjoy checking it out.

Zine Review: Lost Projects 3

Lost Projects 3
Editor: Amy Louise Bogen
IG: @lostprojectszine

Lost Projects 3 is a black and white ½ fold zine about lost projects and plans that ‘scream at you across time and space’. (I just love that image, by the way. Mine would be less screaming and more passive aggressive commentary on current projects, though.)

The thing to understand about Lost Project that I didn’t until I read it is that this is not only a collection of pieces from people writing about lost projects; this zine is also a place for lost projects to live.

It’s like a haven for art, poetry, writing and more to live. Even a dead app got a mention. The whole idea of this is really beautiful to me – a space that values what may have been rejected or abandoned elsewhere.

As such, Lost Projects is a treasure trove of bits and pieces; you’re not sure what you’re going to get – and you won’t get the same thing twice. More often than not, you won’t even get an introduction, but that only lends itself to feeling like you’ve found a box of forgotten treasures in someone’s attic.

I’ll resist the urge to write more similes, but I think the urge itself just goes to show how much I enjoyed the whole concept of Lost Projects.

While I hesitate to name a favourite as such, I have to say that the very last piece that pondered what could be done with the time lost to hair removal really got me thinking.

Lost Projects 3 is an interesting collection of bits and pieces and a zine that I think many would enjoy reading as well as participating in future issues.