Zine Review: Five O’Clock in Tokyo 1

Five O’Clock in Tokyo 1
12 pages
Back cover by https://www.instagram.com/ogatatetsuo/

Five O’Clock in Tokyo 1 is an A5 size black and white, handwritten text perzine about the cycles of life.

Five O’Clock in Tokyo 1 opens with a note from Craig about wanting to make a zine like this for a long time – a zine about current life. From there we read a definition of season, the theme of the four part story to follow.

Craig writes about the parallels between the inevitable cycles of the seasons and the cycles in life. He writes about life experiences and coming back to them later with new perspective. Fatherhood plays a strong part in these contemplations – both Craig’s father and father-in-law as well as being a father.

We also get a bonus zine review and an introduction to two places where Craig likes to buy books.

An A5 zine with big, clear handwriting and contemplating life? Talk about a zine I’m totally into. Craig’s writing style is contemplative with a flow that keeps things moving forward – utterly appropriate with the themes being written about.

I enjoyed this zine a lot. I felt like it was the tip of an iceberg in Craig’s perzine writing. I look forward to the next one.

Zine Review: Snow World Acts 1 & 2

Snow World Acts 1 & 2
Micah Liesenfeld
40 pages each

Snow World Acts 1 & 2 are about 5.5cm x 5.5cm black and white comics about exploring a new world… and then efforts to escape.

Comics featuring snow worlds are definitely welcome as I’m sitting here trying to beat the heat of the day with the fan blowing on my face.

Snow World Act 1 opens wordlessly with our space explorer moving along through the vastness of space to find the snow world. From there we follow the explorer as they wander the world and are pulled into a whole different world. This is where Act 2 starts, and the explorer discovers they are not alone, but togetherness might not quite be what they are looking for.

Holding these tiny comics, I am definitely getting some serious Mini Zine March vibes. They are small! Not only that; each page features four comic panels. That being said, I would have expected a bit less detail for some of the panels. Some are very simple panels, but others still have a lot going on. Micah doesn’t let the size deter them whatsoever in telling the story they want to tell.

Speaking of the story, it’s fairly easy to interpret, but I did find myself taking a few different possibilities from it. (Not so much the ending but building up to the climax.) This isn’t a bad thing, though. I’m a writer and enjoyed the whole imagining process.

I think these zines are cute, and I tip my had to Micah for not only putting so much onto each tiny page but also to telling a story without a single word. They made for quick reading (viewing?) but enjoyable nonetheless. I hope there are more to enjoy.

Zine Review: Manifest (zine) #1

Manifest (zine) #1
Jennifer Payne
1 Page Folded

Manifest (zine) #1 is a full colour 1-page-folded mini-zine that explores the theme of divine intervention in the forms of poetry, collage, and art.

This is the kind of paper that makes me want to pet zines.

Manifest (zine) #1 opens to a note set on a background of yellowed pages of (I believe) a book written in latin. The note asks the reader to contemplate the forces that inspire or otherwise cause is to move in our lives. From there the reader opens the zine once more to reveal side-by-side poems about change. Finally, we open to the middle spread: a combination of art, collage, and more poetry exploring self and change.

I have mentioned many times how poetry is something I don’t often connect with for a few reasons. That said, the poetry in this zine is more in the form of prose-like poetry, which made the imagery and messages easier for me to follow and understand.

The design of this zine is lovely. The paper is so nice and smooth, and the colour printing goes all the way to the edge. I love watercolours and clocks as a visual theme, so I felt drawn in before I read a single word. The layout with each unfolding revealing its own spread was a nice, fun touch too. (It’s not your standard ‘one page folded’ layout. You open this all the way up.)

I love contemplations of self and various forces in the universe, so this zine is definitely one for me. Combine it with Jennifer’s art style, and you have a much-enjoyed read for me.

This is such a fun, creative zine, and I’m so happy to have more in the series. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Zine Review – The Stars Are Back

The Stars Are Back
16 pages

The Stars are Back is a full colour 14cm x 18cm comic about the impact of toxic relationships and how life-changing it can be to develop a healthy relationship with yourself as well as with another person.

There is a trigger warning for a suicide mention in this zine.

Oh my goodness, this zine got me right in the centre of my heart and stayed there the whole way through.

The Stars are back starts in a dark place with one of the hardest ordeals a friend can deal with. From there, the author writes about bad relationships and friendships in their life that were toxic for various reasons. But there is light to be found in the darkness and reasons that the stars come back to light the universe. This isn’t a story that ends up in a neat little happily ever after bow, but rather a story of real life that ends with the unknown future looking positive.

“But one day, I tried to stop lighting myself on fire to keep them warm.”

There are so many different things that I like about this zine, but this quote really stuck out to me. As someone who deals with PTSD and still has nightmares thanks to other humans, this zine spoke to me so much. Also, as someone who only recently found someone who makes their heart shine in that special way, it resonated. I think a lot of people will identify with this zine on a number of levels. Bad relationships are something many have struggled with, and I can only wish that everyone will find someone who makes their stars shine brightly again. This comic zine definitely give that hope.

I can’t write a full review without mentioning the quality of this zine. It’s lovely! From the cardstock cover to thicker inner pages to the to-the-edge colour printing, it’s simply a beautiful comic. Bern’s art style is colourful and intense with so much visual interest. Yes, there are dark elements, but the art style itself and later panels show an artist with such a fun and bubbly personality underneath all the bad things that have happened.

All up, I think this is a wonderful zine. If you don’t mind what’s noted in the trigger warning, this is definitely one to check out.

Mini-Zine Review: Sometimes People Don’t Suck #4

Sometimes People Don’t Suck #5

Sometimes People Don’t Suck 4 is a black and white one-page mini-zine featuring a story about a chance encounter with a stranger and momentary bonding over an awe of nature.

If this title sounds familiar, it may be because I reviewed
Sometimes People Don’t Suck 1, 2, and 3 as well as Sometimes People Don’t Suck 5.

HRW was incredibly generous to send me this zine after I mentioned how much I love the series and how my completionist heart needed the fourth of the series. This mini fits right snugly nice into this good feels series with a short story about following a hawk that led to a brief but interesting chat with a stranger.

HRW launches right into the story with typed text set on patterned backgrounds. The backgrounds bring interest visually but aren’t so intense as to take away from the story itself.

I absolutely adored this story. There’s a point at which the stranger asks, “What are you looking at?” which I immediately interpreted as aggressive. Tone of voice and body language can be everything, as can be previous experiences. I don’t know if other readers will have that immediate gut reaction, but that reaction made me appreciate the ending and the overall story itself all the more.

It can be a little difficult to find these zines if you come across one and want to go looking for the others, as the only identification is the “HRW” on the back. However, a title search along with that will bring you to my past reviews to help guide any curious people.

I think we could all use reminders that sometimes people really don’t suck, and this whole series is great at doing that. I imagine whether or not this series continues depends on how many more experiences HRW has had or will have in the future. But I truly hope this is a mini-zine series that goes for a very long time.

Zine Review: Electron Libre 2

Electron Libre 2: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times
Izalixe Straightheart
28 pages

Electron Libre 2 is a black and white, US-sized half-fold perzine about life, weddings, communities, setting boundaries, sticking up for yourself, and much more.

Full disclosure: My zine ‘BUJO’ is reviewed in this zine.

Electron Libre 2 opens with a brief nod to the typewriter Persephone that, sadly, went berserk and needed to be rehomed. Iza then gives a not to the typewriter Phyllis and The Regional Assembly of Text who generously loaned Phyllis to Iza for the creation of this zine. (Thank you from Iza’s readers as well.)

From there we launch into the real introduction to the zine, which starts with taking a little poke at the tried and true ‘sorry I haven’t made a zine in so long’ before getting into the whirlwind of events that kept this zine from coming into being up until now. (‘Now’ being November 2020 when it came out.)

This introduction is a raw and open sharing of experiences Iza has had being with and then being married to someone with a mental illness. Good times, bad times… They are all there in Iza’s ‘this is my life, so take it or leave it’ kind of way that is also reflected in her YouTube videos. I had to admire Iza not only for sharing things that are clearly painful and complicated but also for sticking with the decisions she has made. Whether you agree with her or would make the same decisions, you have to respect a person who knows that they want in life and knows who they are and what they want in life.

From there, Iza writes about YouTube communities (yes, I remember video responses!) and the evolution of not only the site itself but her channel as well. With being ‘out there’ comes hate and trolls as well, which Iza has taken a healthy approach to dealing with. She also writes about zine fests, new habits, workout tips, reviews, and more.

As I mentioned, Iza reviewed my Bujo zine. That hasn’t influenced my review of this zine whatsoever, but I must say that it was quite lovely and made me smile. The review and the zine itself is refreshingly unapologetic. Iza loves, hurts, and has joy just like all of us, and her writing voice and style embrace all of it with no expectations from the reader.

Unlike with the first issue of Electron Libre (https://seagreenzines.com/zine-review-electron-libre-1/) there are no pieces written in French. While I fully support writing in any language you want to write in, it was nice not to have to break out Google translate before I could wrap up this review.

Electron Libre 2 is a great edition to a series I have come to really enjoy. Iza’s wandering ways are so different from the life I know that it’s all quite fascinating to me. I like the variety of topics in this zine as well as the fact she includes reviews.

I recommend checking out this and Iza’s other zines.

ZineWriMo Day 4 – Get Prepared – Get out your creative tools and make mini-zine blanks

Hello and happy Thursday, the fourth day of ZineWriMo goodness. The sun is bright, the motivation is strong, and the tissues for my sneezes are soft. Haha. What do we have today?

Get Prepared – Get out your creative tools and make mini-zine blanks

I always have a stash of mini-zine blanks on hand, so that stays the same for me as previous years. However, I have changed up my art (writing, bullet journal, doodling, etc) supplies and how I carry them around the house.

This is my little tote bag beauty for all my various pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, sticky notes, rules, so on and so forth.

Earlier this year, I made a goal of adding more colour and creativity into my life in as many ways as possible. Since then, I have changed things up a big in regards to the pens I use (though I still love Papermate InkJoys) as well as washi tapes and such.

With my little creativity kit here, I feel ready to get into fun stuff no matter what time it is.

What are your creative tools of choice?


Stop by and say hello to other participants:

*A Peaceful Homemaker
*Echo Publishing
*KT Mayflower
*r28 Zines

Mini-Zine Review: How to Draw Doctor Strange (made easy!)

How to Draw Doctor Strange (made easy!)
Eric Sobel
12 pages

How to Draw Doctor Strange is a black ink on orange paper mini zine guiding you the process of “impressing your friends and family with a Doctor Strange drawing made with your own two hands!”

“Greetings! You’ve begun your journey…”

Indeed I have! How to Draw Doctor Strange opens with a fun greeting from Eric that made me smile with fun as well as encouragement. From there we go through the steps it takes to create your own at least passable rendition of Doctor Strange.

I must admit I expected more of a ‘draw this line, make this curve’ sort of drawing instruction specific to Doctor Strange. Keeping in mind that I’m not sure when, if ever, I last read drawing instructions. That said, I was very happy to find Eric giving advice as well as direction. Eric writes about how eyes are a mater of ratios and ears are weird. It made me feel like I could take this advice beyond the Sorcerer Supreme and start practising other faces as well.

This zine also surprised me with the layout. It’s not one page folded but rather cut pieces of cardstock stapled together. (With the staple ‘teeth’ on the inside – thank you!) I like the extra work put into it and also appreciate the sturdiness as I can take it with me to practise when I’m out and about.

How to Draw Doctor Strange is a great little zine with great general drawing advice as well as instruction for drawing Doctor Strange specifically. I enjoyed it a lot and will be referencing it in the future, as I would like to learn how to draw well.

Zine Review: Seance

Joe Ledoux
20 pages

Seance is a US-sized half-fold, full colour zine of art and short tales of the spooky and strange found in everyday life.

It’s October! Let’s get our creep on.

Seance opens with a short scene about mistaken creature identity that sets a slightly ominous tone for the rest of the zine. What follows are real scenes from Joe’s life – some scenes easily explained and others not so much. From the fear of very real threats to the unease of the unexplained, Joe’s experiences come together in words and art in a way that may inspire the reader to take a second look at the world around them.

Each short scene/story is accompanied by an art piece on the opposite page. This does lead to a bit of font size changes, but the font is nice and clear so it doesn’t really cause readability problems.
This layout of art with story gave me such nostalgia for an old Twilight Zone-esque show from my childhood called The Night Gallery. There’s also the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series as well. So I think the combo is a really great one – especially for people around my age group.

Joe’s art style is a fun mix of small details and colours that really pop off the page. This is served well by the glossy, bright white paper. Joe’s writing style is fairly to-the-point with a slight flair for the dramatic (which suits the feel of this zine perfectly). It’s not ‘too much’ of anything. I did wonder for a while if I would have preferred to see the stories fleshed out a bit more, but I think they actually suit the overall zine well. And most modern attention spans, to be frank.

Seance wasn’t really a scary read as such for me – save, perhaps, for the bus driver, but I do tend to find people much scarier than anything else. I did go in somewhat expecting the creeps, but I ended up loving what I did get: a reminder of what it’s like to view the world through younger eyes as well as a reminder to pay more attention to the wonders in the world around me.

Those are reminders I am always grateful for.

I do have my nitpick of no socials, but, as always, this may be intentional. Still, a name search does lead to an American neuroscientist so socials in future editions (please create more zines Joe!) would be a good idea.

Seance is an interesting mixture of perzine, art zine, and suspense/thriller zine. The mix intrigues me and has me going back through the pages even after I have finished reading. Be it the mix of genres, the parts of personal nostalgia, the inspiration of looking at the world through a different lens, or everything… check this one out.

PS. Big nostalgia points for the mention of Pogs.

Zine Review: Flotation Device 16

Flotation Device 16
Keith Helt
44 pages

Flotation Device 16 is a black on cream paper, US-sized half-fold zine about life with panic and anxiety attack over the years.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again: People can say what they want about content warnings, but I appreciate them. I was glad to have the heads up about the content being about panic and anxiety so I could make sure to read this when I was in a good space to do so.

Flotation Device 16 opens with the aforementioned warning as well as a creative table of contents introducing the zine’s four parts:

Part 1 – A chronology of selected attacks
Part 2 – A neutral recounting of what happened and how it happened
Part 3 – A selection of recent thoughts
Part 4 – A brief chronology of selected coping strategies

We go right into part one of the zine, which is the first half of the zine. From 1996 to 2017, Keith details a number of panic attacks from before they knew what to call the experiences. The experiences have been written out in diary style format, with just a year covering multiple entries. Keith’s writing style is interesting to me; it’s a balance of not going over the top but not holding back either. The panic is a horrible mix that encompasses the mind and body, but Keith writes about it in a way that documents the experience without trying to elicit any specific response from the reader.

It’s simply honest writing.

From the diary-style of recounting specific attacks, Keith takes a little step back in part two to give a broader overview of what the attacks are like, when they started, what it took to go to the doctor, and what’s happening now. Part three takes us back to 2016 and the diary style of writing, this time focusing on Keith sharing more of the emotional and thought processes of dealing with these anxiety attacks – which clearly causes even more turmoil and depressive type thoughts as well.

Part four takes us in a more positive but still realistic direction with the diary style detailing various coping strategies over time. I think this is a great subject and style to round the zine out with. This section normalises medication, has a healthy list of helpful books, and even ends with a long list of various life highlights. Most importantly (in my opinion) is that it clearly shows that learning to manage your anxiety is a process that grows and changes as you grow.

Save for the inside covers and one page, Flotation Device 16 is a purely text zine. So if you’re looking for a zine that will keep you reading or give you several reading sessions, then this one is for you.

It’s definitely an intense read. Perhaps because I have panic attacks or because I empathise. Perhaps both. I did have to take reading this in parts, but I don’t consider that to be a bad thing. I’ve never read someone write about panic and anxiety quite like Keith, and Flotation Device 16 served as a personal reminder to me that even though people may have the same condition, that condition can still be experienced in a myriad of different ways.

Flotation Device 16 is an interesting look at one experience of panic and anxiety over time. I think this is one that will be sticking with me for quite a while though I’ve finished reading it.

Worrying will not protect me.