Mini-Zine Review: Does This Count?

Does This Count? Poetry From a Non Poet
Don Leach
12 pages

‘Does This Count? Poetry From a Non Poet’ is a ~10cm x 14cm black and white zine of short poems written by a self-identified non-poet. (Does that make them non-poems?)

If you have followed me for a while, you will know the long and wary history I have with poetry. I know what I like, though I can’t often articulate why. I love a metaphor, but that doesn’t mean they are my forte. If you speak to my of meter, then my face may just go blank while I float off to my happy place. With that in mind, this zine had me smiling from the get go and completely into the idea of poetry from a non-poet. I feel like I could do the same.

We open up with a brief introduction from Don, in which he writes about not caring for poetry growing up but getting into writing lyrics as a teenager. These lyrics were never put to music, but then Don discovered spoken word, and things made sense… From there we delve into haiku – or rather, sort of haiku. I don’t know much about haiku, but I’m pretty sure there are rules about syllables. But it only fits that poems from a non-poet would be, well, not-haikus.

Each poem is given its own page an is accompanied by simple line art. Each poem is in its own font, which makes the part of me that took graphic communications wake up and feel both curious as well as confused. The poems range in subject matter, though many of them touch on relationships and interactions between people. As will pretty much every poetry zine I’ve read, some went over my head. Yet others struck me, making me ponder the words and their implications in my own life.

I’d state a favourite poem, but I think that might be giving away more than I care to about my current mindset.

All up, I quite like this zine. Something about ‘poems from a non poet’ helps me to relax and not feel like I have to understand everything that is going on in each piece. I also like the humour that goes with writing something like this. A sort of ‘I’m not sure if I’m doing this right’ feeling that I think we can all identify with. It made me smile and made me feel like trying my hand at writing poetry – or not-exactly-poetry – again, which makes it a win for me.

Mini-Zines Review: Kim Rounsefell Self-Help List Zines

50 Ways to Protect Your Body Image, 70 Acts of Self-Care, 50 Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery
Kim Rounsefell
One-page tri-fold

50 Ways to Protect Your Body Image, 70 Acts of Self-Care, and 50 Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery are all ~11cm x 9.5cm full-colour, tri-fold zines full of prompts for the title subject.

I should note here that these were not packaged or listed as a set as such. There are enough similarities for me to want to review them together.

These three zines in gorgeous pastels (I love pastels) with cutie doodles on the covers are all list zines about the title topics. Whether you need some self-care time, some self-discovery time, to protect your body image, or all of the above – these minis are the zines for you! They open up in the traditional tri-fold fashion to reveal easy-to-read numbered lists that follow a quick little intro to the subject at hand.

As I mentioned, I love pastels. I also love lists and doodles, so these three zines are like a trifecta of awesomeness for me. None of these subjects are strengths of mine, so I am so happy to get help with ideas on all counts. Each zine held both ideas that I had heard before (but appreciate being reminded!) as well as completely new-to me ideas. You can pick them up for a quick scan for a few ideas or sit down and take the whole lot in. I love the size of these, too. How small they are in size as well as thickness makes it easy for me to tuck them into my planner.

As you can probably tell at this point, I really adore these little minis in every way. They are a cute, portable, friendly way to remind myself that that I don’t need to have it ‘all together’ because there are zines like these out there to help. Definitely check them out.

Zine Review: Words for my younger self

Words for my younger self
One-page folded mini

Words for my younger self is an A7, one-page-folded, full colour mini-zine with words of advice Shei has for their younger self.

This colourful mini from Shei opens with them writing about how they will being turning 30 and reflecting back on what they have learned over the years.

From there, we go into words of advice – many of which my younger self could have certainly done with hearing, that’s for sure. Each page features typed advice set on colourful collage backgrounds that I have long associated as Shei’s style. I always appreciate so much colour; it makes me smile.

Shei also writes this at the beginning: “So here are a few things I’d like to tell my younger self. Take it as self therapy.” I love this concept of writing to your younger self as a form of therapy. Perhaps it’s just my life scope, but I don’t think reflection is given enough due considering the impact it can have.

I don’t know if this will surprise anyone, but, when I was a child, I always took advice from my elders very seriously. I always had this thing about making the most of life, so why wouldn’t I listen to those who’d lived more of it. With that in mind, I absolutely love zines like this. I love the idea of other young people out there coming across this zine and zines like it, taking the advice to live better lives.

With each piece of advice, I thought, “That’s my favourite.” Then I would read the next and think, “Ah, no, this one is definitely my favourite.” All up, Words for my younger self came together as a lovely mini that I appreciated on many levels. Definitely check out this mini-zine and consider making one of your own.

Zine Review: Scenes From A Marriage Vol 2

Scenes From A Marriage Vol 2
Matt MacFarland
60 pages

Scenes From A Marriage Vol 2 is a 5 inch x 5 inch (~12.5cm x 12.5cm) partially black and white, partially colour comic zine about, well, marriage life. The zine is filled with comics that are one or two pages long, with each page featuring four panels per page.

I haven’t laughed so hard while also feeling called out at the same time for a very long time.

Scenes From A Marriage opens with a short and sweet dedication before launching right into the comics. From the very first one, I was laughing out loud and enjoying myself thoroughly. I wonder if Matt looks back on that first one and shakes his head because he didn’t realise just how appropriate it would be for the rest of 2022. I won’t spoil the whole thing, but I will say that even the spirit world is feeling the inflation.

The chuckling and laughing continued on to the point that Wanderer started giving me weird looks from the kitchen until I told him about what I was reading. One specific comic I could have sworn was taking from our life (though a friendship and not a marriage). A scene from my life played out right there in the comic with the husband character marching in to announce some sort of bad news the wife character doesn’t want to hear about while she prepares to listen to true crime videos. I feel so called out.

I enjoyed each and every comic in this zine. There are so many great ones to mention, but I want to add in one more to what I’ve already mentioned. In one comic, the husband character finds he’s ‘speaking’ in text and emoji speak and doesn’t know how to stop. It’s just so funny and adorable to me.

There’s no way I could review this zine without mentioning how much I love the covers – yes, front and back – on this zine. It reminds me of those t-shirts in the 90s with the cartoon characters facing forward on the front but on the back, you could see their behinds. There’s only a little behind on the behind of this cover (which gave me a giggle), but I just absolutely love the touch of looking at the characters’ backs on the back. Even the title is on there – backwards! Love it.

There’s so much I love about this comic. From the humour to the art style that just fits everything so perfectly, Scenes From a Marriage Vol 2 has quickly and easily become a favourite in my collection. Definitely check out this and Matt’s other creations. My completionist heart needs it all!

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.