Zine Review: Doris 26

Doris 26
Cindy Crabb

Doris 26 is a black and white (save for the cover) perzine that is, well, hard to describe. It’s about life, hope, society, and living. More specifically, it’s about the state of people and their desire for meaning, social ecology, the stories we tell ourselves and more.

I’ve been a fan of the Doris series since I first started reading them – thanks to a number of recommendations on a WMZ thread. Right from the unrelated snippets on the first page, I am sucked into the life of this person whose use of language and way of doing things is so different from mine.

I quite enjoy the aesthetics of this zine. I feel like I’m reading someone’s diary or looking through a junk journal (if you’re not familiar with the term ‘junk’ is not an insult). There’s a fun and seemingly unplanned mix of typing and handwriting, cut and paste and drawn comics.

Reading Doris zines is like a reminder to myself that I am too uptight. While that may sound bad, I look at it as Cindy’s writing style relaxing my mind while simultaneously giving me interesting concepts to think about. There are so many times as I am reading when I note down something I want to look into further or think, “That’s exactly how I feel!” (Page 1: “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get over the lifelong problem I’ve had where I think I don’t know anything about anything…” – This!)

Admittedly, I didn’t understand everything. Cindy’s life experiences are so different from mine, but that’s probably why I found everything so fascinating. Some of the social ecology stuff did go over (way over) my head, but what I did understand was very interesting to me. Also, what I did understand has inspired me to keep learning to I can understand the other stuff.

The seeming randomness of this zine is beautiful to me. It speaks to sharing for the sake of sharing and nothing else.

I think that anyone who has an interest in zines should read at least one Doris zine. I think 26 is a great place to start with plenty of it being about people and currency society.


Zine Review: Birder Beginnings: Introduction to Bird Watching

Birder Beginnings: Introduction to Bird Watching
Sarah E. Hoffman

Birder Beginnings is a black and white comprehensive beginner’s guide to bird watching and birding, and boy am I ever a beginner.

The chaos of the house move delayed my reading this zine, but I’m almost grateful for it (save for the annoyance of the delay for Sarah). Since moving to a much quieter place, I’ve been hearing so many more bird calls and have a greater appreciation for this zine.

Birder Beginnings takes you by the hand and leads you into the world of birding. Sarah’s writing is informative without waffling, telling you things you don’t need to know, or distracting from the subject. The cut and paste style fits in very well with the guidebook style of the zine.

I was impressed by the amount of information that was packed inside. There are so many elements of birding – and bird watching; I now know there is a difference – that I simply wouldn’t have been able to even guess before. Sarah writes about how binoculars work, developing and advancing your skills, birding event etiquette, and plenty more. There are even events and various types of documenting the birds you’ve spotted.

There’s even a list for further reading, and you know how much I love lists for where to get more info.

While this may seem overwhelming, Sarah makes it clear at the beginning that all you require to start is the ability to enjoy nature.

The part I appreciated most was the ‘birds in your backyard’ section. The specific of breeds and seeds may not all be applicable in Australia, but the ideas and tips are. Even better, I felt like they were things I could implement fairly easily. I feel inspired and am looking forward to making the space I have bird-friendly.

As I mentioned, I am a complete beginner to all of this, but I feel like this zine has all the information anyone needs to get going for anything from casual bird watching to more involved birding.

Zine Review: Wildlife of Victoria Vol 1 – Semi-Domesticated Animals

Wildlife of Victoria Vol 1 – Semi-Domesticated Animals
Twitter: https://twitter.com/celuran@cerulan

It was bound to happen again sometime, and here we are…

Wildlife of Victoria Vol 1 – Semi-Domesticated Animals is a funny black and white zine featuring two stories: one about bees and one about a goat. There are also some bee facts and recipes to try out thrown into the mix.

With the title being what it is, I expected something like a listing of wildlife encountered or something along the more ‘dry factual’ lines. I was surprised in all the best ways when I realised that, while this does serve as a guidebook of sorts (I had no idea that if you move bees, it has to be more than 5 kilometres away because they know their way home), it’s primarily a funny memoir-style zine about animal encounters.

Before I get carried away, I want to start off with the beginning of this zine, which is very, very sweet. Apples talks about being afraid of meeting new people (I hear you!) and dealing with that fear by seeing them simply as people who haven’t heard the bee-moving story yet.

I thought the concept was a fun and funny (in a good way) way to do things, but I didn’t realise quite how funny until I got into reading about the bees.

And then reading about the goat. Oh, my goodness, that goat.

I struggle to talk about the stories because I enjoyed them so much and don’t want to spoil even the tiniest bit of goodness. The stories are funny on their own, but they are made even funnier for two reasons.

The first comes in having the wisdom of hindsight. I laughed, with empathy, when Apples wondered why they thought a certain move with beehives would be a good idea because it definitely wasn’t.

Right now, typing this, I cannot believe what a stupid idea this is.

Secondly, it’s funnier because Apples has taken tweets made while these things were actually happening and included them in the zine.

I now realise why goats are linked to Satan

Apples also includes recipes, both of which I’d like to try out. But I think what I love most about them is that they are put into the zine when they are mentioned. Even mid-story. Readers might not think one way or another about this, but I really feel like sticking them in like like (as opposed to putting them in their own recipe section or something like that) adds to the ‘chaotic flurry’ that is the feeling when reading about angry bees and even angrier goats. It feels almost like an aesthetic choice to simply put them in as they came up in conversation.

The funniest thing about this zine for me is this: I looked at the back cover before I started reading, and it reads “look forward to vol. 2 where I will talk about chooks”. Now having read the zine, that now takes a hilariously ominous tone.

If you want to have a(n empathic) laugh at tales of semi-domesticated animals, then you are missing out if you don’t check out this zine.

Zine Review: If You Hate Someone… You Hate Someone

If You Hate Someone… You Hate Someone

If You Hate Someone… You Hate Someone is a black and white handwritten zine about language, relationships, and the question: Are hurtful words turning romantic?

I’ve been sitting here for a while now trying to figure out how to get into this review, but my head is still filled with everything I’ve just read. I should learn to simply not have expectations with any zines because this zine certainly went in a different direction than I thought it would. What started out as a rant turned into a real ‘lightbulb’ sort of zine for me, making me think about things in a new light.

Inspired by people ‘shipping’ Resident Evil 7’s “protagonist and the game’s next door asshole”, the zinemaker asks:

“Are we normalising loathing in healthy relationships?”

They start off talking about tired of people deciding that two men who hate each other ‘obviously’ must really be in love with each other. The concern (amongst many) in this is that it’s taking nasty words and phrases thrown at each other as some sort of secret, disgusting love language and how that is playing out in society with hurtful words becoming normalised.

I like the clarification of the difference between liking the ‘enemies to friends to lovers’ trope and the ‘they hate each other so they must love each other’ thing that the zinemaker is talking about. Furthermore, there is the clarification that this isn’t about abusive relationships either – even though, when it comes to this topic, they are muddier waters to navigate.

They go on to point out the societal implications of indulging what some would argue is an ‘innocent fiction’ and how it’s not just simple or fun. How these sorts of things tend to leak into behaviour and normalise it.

Who hasn’t heard ‘if a boy hits a girl, then he really likes her’?

I do have to point out here that the handwriting is a bit hard to read at times. But I found the subject so interesting that it only slowed me down rather than prevented me from continuing.

If You Hate Someone is a zine that I expected to read casually, but it ended up really making me think a lot about things that I’d simply accepted as how things work. Things that I hadn’t taken the time to think critically about. If anything I’ve described here sounds interesting to you, then definitely check out this zine.

Zine Review: The Life and Times of Cashed Up Bogans

Terrible Comics Presents: The Life and Times of Cashed Up Bogans
Sober Bob Monthly
IG: @soberbobmonthly

There’s a saying in Australia – “not happy, Jan” – that sums of feelings of extreme annoyance. That saying came to mind when I read this comic zine. Sober Bob isn’t happy, Jan, and she’s not about to hold back on what she thinks.

Cashed Up Bogans is a full colour comic of cynical musings about modern so-called ‘middle class’ life and the dredges of suburban humanity. Each page has its own multi-panel comic featuring the hypocrises and shallowness that turn people into full-time cynics.

‘Draw Your Favourite Bogan*’ – a spot on the inside front cover – made me laugh out loud. But when it came to the comic about real estate… Well, after spending the past two years or so learning about the annoyances, discrimination, and outright BS in that system, I felt annoyed all over again.

Even though I’m a ‘why can’t we all just be a bit nicer to each other’ kind of woman, I fell right into this zine. I totally understood why Sober Bob made this zine, and I know a fair few friends of mine who would enjoy it as much as I have.

I feel like Cashed Up Bogans is a combination of rant, dark humour, and completely taking the piss out of common culture. Because, in the end, they are jokes (even if they have teeth). I definitely want to see more of the terrible comics series.

If you like to take a dark poke at humanity – more specifically the suburban class – then this zine is one to check out.

*Bogan is more or less the Australian equivalent of the US redneck mixed with the stereotypical trailer trash.

Zine Review: Sticks And Stones

Sticks And Stones

Sticks and Stones is a black and white zine of poetry and nature sketches.

I was a little bit nervous when I opened up this zine. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, poetry isn’t my strong suit, and no one likes not ‘getting it’. However, this combination of words and sketches really caught me and had me flipping back and forth between the pages.

I even found a favourite few lines:

bramble clings, defends and bleeds
to benefit of
her fruit,

I read those lines, quite beautiful to my mind, and they helped me to relax. The poetry became less about worrying over whether I understood the poet’s meaning but what meaning I took out of it.

In the literal sense it’s a zine that is on the quicker read side of the spectrum. However, I found myself spending more time with it than the initial read through.

There’s a lovely balance struck with this zine that I find difficult to put into words. The aesthetic of black and white sketches in combination with the typewritten words as well as the actual meaning of the words… Even the rock or grey sky colour of the cover works into it.

Recommending a poetry zine is like recommending a dessert – sure, I know what I like, but I’d need to know what you like to have any chance of coming close to a good match. However, if you like poetry – especially free verse style – then check out Sticks and Stones.

Zine Review: Shit’s Fucked #2

Shit’s Fucked #2
Iggy Nicklbottum ft. art by Tahnee Marie
IG: @shitsux

With a Ouija/Spirit Board as its centrefold, Shit’s Fucked #2 is a full-colour glossy zine filled with articles, stories, and art featuring the strange, spooky, and downright evil.

I knew going in that Shit’s Fucked was going to be a bit different compared to my usual reading, but I did not know how much. If I had ten seconds to describe it, I would say that it’s jam-packed with all sorts of fun things for the horror enthusiast.

There’s even an advice column for all your supernatural and spiritual queries.

I really enjoyed reading through this zine. The writing style is great – even for articles that, written differently, would have been on the dry side. There’s a great twisted humour mixed in with even with researched pieces. (And the researched pieces come with sources listed!) The first piece on spirit boards was even more interested than I thought it would be.

The serial killer profile reminded me of a guilty pleasure of mine – a series of YouTube videos all about serial killers. What a great addition to a zine like this one.

It’s not all facts and history, though, with some twisted fiction to enjoy as well.

There are plenty of fun little bits and pieces amongst the articles and art. I’m not sure which is my favourite – the spooky ‘Missed Connections’ spot or ‘Iggy’s Date Ideas’. Both are… unique. (Be sure to read the disclaimer on the back inside cover when it comes to the date ideas.)

And talk about cut and past. This is not a zine that is precious about itself; it invites you to cut up the covers! The back cover has a membership form to cut out, and the front cover has a planchette to cut out and use on the spirit board centrefold!

Shit’s Fucked has well and truly earned a place on my list of zines that flew far above my initial expectations. If you like spooky things, if you have a darker sense of humour, if you like horror films… If you’re in the general area of being into any of that sort of things, then definitely pick this zine up.