Zine Review: Inside the Cavern of Your Mind

Inside the Cavern of Your Mind
TQ Walton / Purple Bat Press
1 page mini-fold

Inside the Cavern of Your Mind is a full-colour, one-page-folded mini-zine about exploring inner mental spaces.

Funnily enough, just as I finished reading this zine and started writing this review, a friend decided to have a philosophical debate. So a mental examination was well timed.

Exploring inner mental spaces sounds like a massive topic, and many things have been written on it. Inside the Cavern of Your Mind, however, is a lighter but just as important exploration. With relatively few words and simple but colourful pages, TQ both ponders with and encourages the reader.

Inside the Cavern of Your Mind is a short read but one that I have read over many times. I quite enjoy the positive feelings and recommend checking it out.

Zine Review: …with an e.


…with an e.

…with an e. is a US 1/4-sized black and white zine about gender stereotypes, societal expectations, anxiety, and not so healthy coping mechanisms… all wrapped up in preparations for and attendance of a wedding.

As Lynne mentions on page one, this zine does contain writing about alcohol in case that is triggering for you.

…with an e. opens with Lynne writing about how this zine was put together in 24 hours the day after Thanksgiving and how a 24-hour zine seemed to fit the bill of writing about the experience but not taking weeks or months to do so. From there we have the aforementioned trigger warning before launching into where it all started: their brother got engaged.

Lynne writes about many things, from hating dressing up, anxiety from being expected to do so at their brother’s wedding, looking for a dress, and more. Lynne’s writing style is an interesting mix of opening up with personal anxieties, thoughts, and feelings but with as sort of ‘one step back’ perspective that lets them – and the reader – take in their actions from a self-reflective sort of stance. With a flair for a sort of subtle, dry humour as well, I felt like I was reading a letter from a friend about everything that had happened.

I’m someone who likes to get dressed up and is comfortable presenting as a cis female, there was still so much in this zine I identified with. I may like to wear a dress, but I abhor clothes shopping. Trying clothes on? Horror of horrors. Lynne also writes about how their boobs suddenly got bigger after thirty. Strangely enough, I can identify with that and all the fun adjustments clothing-wise that needed to be made. Only at 35 for me.

The mythical makeup class that Lynne felt like they missed, the feeling awkward in social situations – especially when there are expectations set for behaviour, etc – and even using alcohol as a coping mechanism… I was right there with it all. Heck, music isn’t my strong suit either.

It was hard reading about the sort of silent agreement Lynne has with their family to just ‘not talk about the things’ in regards to Lynne’s queerness. But I think there is a great value in the fact that Lynne wrote about it because I imagine that a lot of people are in the same position with family: not ‘out’, possibly suspected, but they don’t talk about it to avoid any potential conflict.

I could keep going on and on about this zine, and I think that goes to show how much I enjoyed it and how it made me think about things. I love it when a zine surprises me with ‘I’m that way too!’ thoughts while I’m reading.

…with an e. is a zine about so much but, overall, about being human and trying so hard to navigate the weirdness we call life.

Check it out.

Zine Review: Am I A Dreamer

Am I A Dreamer
Richard Larios
20 pages

Am I A Dreamer is a US quarter-sized, black and white comic zine about staying true to your creative self, how your creativity can change and grow as you do, and the difference between doing and dreaming.

This is another instance of reading a zine exactly when I needed to read it. My creative self is very happy.

Am I A Dreamer opens with Richard writing about being called a ‘dreamer’ and how that title doesn’t really jive with him – because he’s doing things! He then moves into different motivations for things and how he does things for fun. Meaning he stops them when they stop being fun, a mindset passed down from his mother who always told him to do what makes him happy.

From there he talks about changing as a person in jail and how he survived it by continuing to be creative. Even more, other prisoners related to his writing. He escaped the mindset of prisoner by being the writer even in the cell where he spent so much time. Upon release, he was a blank canvas, and yet he continued to process and create. Not dream. Create.

“Left to me I would say that I’m a grunt that self-medicates with art.”

Am I A Dreamer is a great zine that shows in few but powerful words how life can change dramatically but our dedication to our art(s) doesn’t have to. Reading about how Richard kept creating and kept writing, doing what he does for fun, therapy, and many other things, is very inspiring to me. It reminded me that what we nurture and stick with is what grows within us.

He also touches on a number of different subjects (dreaming versus doing, life as a young man in jail, doing what is fun, etc) while seamlessly blending all these topics into a great read.

I would love to see more on every subject from Richard. I highly recommend this zine for everyone but especially creatives (And especially if you’re like me and feel like you may have lost your creative way a bit.)

Zine Review: Renaissance I

Renaissance I
Connor Ovenden-Shaw
8 pages

Renaissance I is an A6, full-colour zine of photography and poetry.

I feel like I’m always saying the same thing about poetry – most of it goes over my head, and I just like what I like – but here I am reviewing more poetry zines. What can I say? I’ll always keep reading poetry.

Renaissance I opens right into things with a handwritten note from 1949 on the front inside cover and a poem on (I believe) the quickly fading nature of fame and/or empty praise. From there we take in the combination of poetry, which often expresses feelings of sadness and things lost, as well as photography of various things.

The photography is personalised not only by the eye of the photographer taking the picture but also by sketches that have been drawn on them. I wish I could say what it reminded me of. Either way, I quite liked the added elements.

Connor’s writing often feels fuelled by depression: calm and accepting but with an air of despondency. There also feels, to me, that there is an air of nostalgia mixed into some of the poems as well. I can’t say I fully understood all of the poems – there were a couple of places where I felt like symbolism was being used but I didn’t click onto it. That said, these all of these poems made me feel something – and making someone feel something is the aim of any art.

For anyone curious, the back cover is the one that ‘got me in the feels’ the most.

Connor doesn’t include any socials in this zine, but a quick Google of their name will lead you to where you need to go. This is usually a nitpick of mine, but, to be honest, it feels like the right choice for this zine in a way I struggle to articulate. Perhaps if you have read or do read this zine, you will agree.

As always, the inclusion of a ‘1’ in the title has me smiling, because I do hope to see more of these. Connor’s writing is full of emotion, and I adore the element of drawing on the photos (something I’d like to try myself at some point).

Check this one out.

Zine Review: It’s Odd.

It’s Odd.
4 pages (one-page mini)

It’s Odd is a full-colour, one-page mini-zine about the mixed feelings that come with a diagnosis that confirms things you long suspected.

It’s Odd opens right into things with, “It’s odd, knowing you were right” accompanied by a drawing of Latibule (with snail characteristics as seen on the cover). From there, we read about Latibule always knowing she was different and experienced the world in a different way.

The text is accompanied by Latibule’s art, which I love. There’s so much emotion conveyed in the drawings that was so easy for me to pick up her feelings and empathise.

This is a lovely little mini that beautifully explores that strange and almost indescribable feeling of being proven right about news that one has to come to terms with. It seems like such a complicated thing – something I have pondered many times in my own life – and yet Latibule expresses that ‘odd’ feeling so well.

Definitely pick up a copy.

Zine Review: basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue

basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue
Joshua James Amberson
56 pages

basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue is a US-sized, half-fold black and white zine for the love of (and sometimes frustration with and doubts about) the humble cassette tape.

Sometimes you need to go with the beautiful description on the zine itself:

“Twenty writers, musicians, DJs, label owners, publishers, and comic artists tell stories of how cassette tapes have affected their lives, for better or for worse. Within: the art of the mixtape, the importance of the boombox, the intimacy of the Walkman. Plus tales of recording with cassettes, performing with cassettes, releasing cassettes, falling in love with cassettes. Nostalgia, subversion, frustration, possibility.”

Now this is the sort of nostalgia I am all about. I remember holding my little boom box up to the TV in an effort to record the music that played during THAT infamous Final Fantasy VII scene while my heart was breaking. But this isn’t about my memories. Let’s dig in.

basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue opens with a Track List (table of contents) split into the A side and B side, which I love as a little detail. From there we get a personal introductions to Josh’s life with cassettes and the nagging worry of whether one’s passion equates to a life well spent. Josh goes on to write a little something that I’m encountering within my writerly self more and more:

“But, as a writer, I’m never content with unexplored joy. I want to pick it apart and understand it, open up its contradictions and absurdities.”

Ah, I know that feeling all too well.

We then read a brief timeline of the life of cassettes as well as a brief primer about how cassettes work and have worked through time. From there we get to the shared experiences of first cassette tapes, the freedom of easily transported music on the Sony Walkman, the trials and tribulations of trying to respool that precious musical tape back onto the wheels. Everything is in black type on white paper with a clear tape-insert background for the title. (I love it when zines add in little details to fit a theme.) Some are accompanied by anything from cassette diagrams to actual mixtape lists.

This is the kind of zine that makes me want to share my cassette tape stories. I read the stories written by these contributors and want to tell them how I remember this or had a similar experience with that. Oh, and do you remember…

I could go on and on. I had so much fun reading this zine and think anyone who grew up with cassette tapes, grew to love them, still love them, and even perhaps even still love being able to hold that Walkman close and play those cassettes just for your eager ears will love this zine.

Mini Zine Review: 6 Things I Don’t Like About Depression

6 Things I Don’t Like About Depression
4 pages (one-page mini)

6 Things I Don’t Like About Depression is a black and white, one page mini zine about six effects of depression Elisa doesn’t like.

Sometimes I will read a zine because I’m really ‘feeling’ it, and today this mini really spoke to me.

6 Things I Don’t Like About Depression opens right up into the six things, with each depressive symptom getting its own page for the symptom title and a few thoughts from Elisa about the symptom. Each page has nicely sized big type so it’s easy to read even in low light.

I must admit I thought a mental ‘Yes!’ when I saw the first thing mentioned: Fatigue. People experience depression in different ways and at different times, of course, but fatigue has been at the top of my list lately, so this felt like a meant to be read. While I didn’t feel each symptom in quite the ways Elisa did, I have and do experience all of those symptoms. That just goes to show that even if we both call a symptom something, that doesn’t mean we all experience and interpret it in exactly the same way.

One thing I wanted to note is how, with the way Elisa writes, it was easy for me to make connections between symptoms. Fatigue can make you feel sad because you don’t have the energy to do things. Sadness can make personal hygiene difficult. So on and so forth, around and around.

I’d love to see a sequel to this along the lines of ‘6 Ways I Deal With Depression’ because I’m me and those are the sort of things that make my heart happy. That said, this is a lovely little zine reminder that you aren’t alone and could make for a good introduction to depression for someone who isn’t familiar with it.

Zine Review: Thicker than Water

Thicker than Water
Frank Candiloro
44 pages

Thicker than Water is an A5 size, black and white mature readers horror comic zine about whether we can truly break free from so-called family.

This one definitely is for mature readers – not in language but in content.

Thicker than Water opens with a nice and clear information page (though I did note most of the links aren’t working, and I found the above links by searching). From there, we begin with once upon a time through the dark woods and the ungodly sight of the Kraven residence…

The Kravens are made up by Mother Kraven and her dear sons Hansen and Gunnar. Their typical diet isn’t exactly polite or friendly, and obtaining the food they eat sets Gunnar on a path that ultimately has him questioning his life, identity, and whether blood is thicker than water.

Frank’s art style really draws me in – no pun intended. On one level, it reminds me somewhat of the show Samurai Jack, but there is more of a horror element to it. Frank truly makes it their own, distinguished style. The panels are nice and big so you can see what’s happening, and there is plenty to pay attention to. The content can be gruesome at times, but I couldn’t help but take a closer look at each panel.

I tried not to tell too much of the story because, even though it is told in a horror genre way, it leaves the reader a lot to ponder. Sure, you could pick this up, enjoy it, and put it down. But you could also pick it up, read it, and be urged to think about the meaning of family, blood, breaking free, and what’s necessary to truly to that – if being truly free is actually possible.

Perhaps it’s because I personally cut off ties with my ‘blood’ a long time ago that this really hit me, but I think others may feel the same way.

All up, Thicker than Water is a great adult horror comic with some interesting themes if you care to think deeply about them. Everything about this comic wants me to read more of Frank’s creations, more comics in general, and more horror. A win for certain.

Zine Review: Why Does Society Care So Much About My Body Hair?

Why Does Society Care So Much About My Body Hair?
Crash Reynolds & Edd Castillo
8 pages

Why Does Society Care So Much About My Body Hair? is an 11cm x 14cm black text on coloured paper zine about feelings around body hair and body hair expectations.

Razors, waxing, societal expectations… Never the makings of a good thing.

This mini opens with Crash writing about body hair embarrassment when they were younger. Crash was prevented from shaving and required to wax if they wanted to remove body hair. Crash writes briefly about the shame around body hair and how that goes against the traits that we’re trained to believe society expects. After this, in the middle of the zine on neon orange paper, Edd shares their body hair experiences from youth in comic form. From there we go back to Crash who struggles with their feelings around their leg hair but is starting to face it.

As a person with PCOS, I am well-acquainted with the trials and horrors around body hair, so I already empathised with Crash and Edd on the subject. Crash’s writing is thoughtful and to the point whereas Edd features a setting I’ve never been in: the boys locker room for the opposite kind of experience I have faced.

I loved that Crash and Edd teamed up to share both of these experiences though because it makes it oh so clear that so many people experience this kind of pressure. Two sides of a coin, if you will. I think it was a great way to handle a big picture with only two authors.

Why Does Society Care So Much About My Body Hair? left me feeling a bit sad about why humanity continues to demand things of each other that don’t really matter in the end. (Your body, your choice.) But I am glad to see zines like this because body hair is still very much a discussion in media for various reasons. This is definitely worth picking up, reading, and pondering. And, perhaps, making your own zine on the topic.

Zine Review: A Zine-Zine Proposition

A Zine-Zine Proposition
Billy McCall
8 pages

A Zine-Zine Proposition is a US-sized, half-fold, black and white, primarily text zine collection of the best/worst lines from Winner Takes All to create an out-of-context text…

This zine probably wasn’t intended for serious examination by any means, but I needed a laugh today, and this zine certainly provided. Also, not really suitable for younger readers.

Out of habit, I looked at the cover and then looked at the back – something I recommend doing with this zine. Billy gives his own take on the synopsis of Sebastian and Missy’s ‘love’ story, which had me chuckling straight away and feeling prepared for what I would find inside. Well, as prepared as I could be.

Inside Billy launches right into his featured bits and pieces of Winner Takes All. Through these chosen bits of text, we are introduced to Sebastian and Missy – neither of which quite get to any sort of positive light. They’re in Vegas, and they’re tempted to some adult activities with each other. All of which you picked up from Billy’s synopsis.

While these look like complete sentences and paragraphs taken out, some are actually just phrases and snippets. They are more than enough, however, as the reader moves back and forth between wondering what in the world is going on and what in the world kind of sentence is “He wasn’t undisturbed by her nearness”.

On the back, Billy asks if any of this makes sense taken out of context like this. Sort of… but then again, it doesn’t really matter. If you’ve read these sorts of books, you can fill in the blank spots. If you haven’t, I hope the confusion you feel is an amused sort of confusion.

A Zine-Zine Proposition is exactly the sort of zine I wanted to read today: something a bit ridiculous that made me laugh out loud. On one hand, I feel bad for the writer. But I have also enjoyed many a cheesy romance novel in my time as well, so I know just how high the cheese gets piled at times and can laugh along with my guilty pleasure. If you’re like a chuckle, pick this one up.

Really though, what about Tim and all his anime?!