Zine Review: Brainscan 33 DIY Witchery: An Exploration of Secular Witchcraft

Brainscan 33 DIY Witchery: An Exploration of Secular Witchcraft
Alex Wrekk
Upthewitchypunx.tumblr.com

There are infinite ways to witch…

Brainscan 33 is a black (sometimes brown) and white zine that combines info zine and perzine in explorations of secular witchcraft.

I usually mention the aesthetics of zines further into a review, but I really have to start with it this time. Brainscan 33 is the only zine that I have spent just as much time petting and flipping through as I did reading it. From the acorns charm held on by lavender string used to sew the binding to the few different kinds of papers inside, you may find yourself facing the longest commentary on look and feel that you’ve ever written…

I am new to witchcraft but have a keen interest in learning more about it. It’s with that feeling that I approached reading this zine – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Alex starts with a fantastic introduction that states in no uncertain terms that this zine does no exist to convince you, sway you, or otherwise establish a ‘right’ way to witch. While such a strong ‘take it or leave it’ kind of opening can be a little chancy with readers, I think it’s fantastic. It establishes Alex’s desire to share a viewpoint and a story. It’s an invitation rather than a command.

From the introduction, we go into definitions – something I loved and something I’m glad Alex went into first. They served the double purpose of not only making it clear the viewpoint Alex is writing from but also giving you (if you want) a place to start figuring out your own definitions for where you stand.

Brainscan 33 is packed with information – perhaps even more than its 64 pages implies. Alex writes about history, about definitions, and about both the good as well as the not so great. There are clarifications of similarities and differences in witchcraft, religion, Wiccan, and more.

There’s even a ‘Witching Tips’ in the centre of the zine. Very well placed, if you ask me, because one point directly answered a question that had literally just come to my mind moments before I started reading the answer. If that’s not good pacing, I don’t know what is.

Where the information found in this zine certainly drew me in and kept me reading, it’s Alex’s personal ‘witch-jectory’ story that really made me feel a lot of things. I found it easy to identify with life stages like the moment you realise that you can “just do the thing” without permission or a mentor or anyone else. Or how there are times when you need to reclaim a physical space.

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I have really enjoyed this zine and will be coming back to it in the future. I could keep going on about it, but I think it’s important to leave at least something to be discovered. Haha.

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200th Zine Review Celebration Awards: I Read a Zine, And I Liked It

Wonderful, beloved zine friends. I’m so happy to be creating this post.

It’s that time again – a time that probably isn’t familiar to a lot of you. When I reached my 100th review in May 2016, I felt inspired by the Golden Stapler Awards and celebrated by awarding zines with titles like ‘best binding’ and ‘funniest zine’.

(100th Zine Review Celebration Awards: All You Need is Zine Love)

I hit my 200th zine reviewed a few months ago, but with everything that was going on, I wasn’t able to get to things until now. I still wasn’t sure whether I would do this, but I do love sharing my zine enthusiasm and celebrating fun and cool zines.

Things to remember:

1. My apologies for any less than stellar photos.
2. This is only meant to be a bit of fun.
3. Zines often fit into more than one category. How they were sorted is all on me.
4. Keep in mind these are limited to the second lot of 100 zines I’ve reviewed – roughly from May 2016 to July 2017. You can find the whole list: Zine Review Index
5. Picking out the ‘best’ stinks. I love them all!

Let’s do this.

(I’m putting everything after a more tag because there are a lot of images.)

Read More »

Happy Mail Monday – Hello December Edition

http://giphy.com/gifs/rainbow-lol-gif-vomit-LwIw5RCH3hwGc

Hello, and happy Monday, zine friends!

This especially chipper hello comes to you courtesy of the proper internet connection I finally have in my home. No more living by expensive mobile data for me! Phew. Happy, happy day.

And an especially happy day thanks to wonderful mail!

Hats off to Sober Bob big time. It is no small feat, and yet she keeps on rocking week in and week out. I absolutely love it and am thrilled to be on the $50 Minimum mailing list.

Yes, I really do love ‘slice of life’ zines. Little (or sometimes big) free zines that give us another chance to connect – as friends, strangers… Whatever it happens to be. ❤

This out of the blue postcard came all the way from Las Vegas! Allysha Webber was so kind to think of me during their travels here and there. A little surprise to make the start of the week that much brighter. 🙂

Woo! This arrived so quickly. I’m very impressed (and not so sad faced about postage costs – haha). I have had this on my wishlist since I first saw Alex Wrekk post about it on their Instagram. You see, witchcraft is one of a few things I want to learn more about, and this zine popped up as a perfect place to start. The financial stars aligned, and here we are. I’m very excited to start reading it.

Thank you for the lovely mail, making my little bubble in the world a little brighter. Thank you to everyone who reads and shares in my love for happy mail.

That’s me for today. I’m not really sure what’s up next. I’m a little exhausted after ZineWriMo and have a lot of catching up to do now with the proper internet connection.

Mini-Zine Review: Zines on Toast Tour

The Zines on Toast Tour
Alex Wrekk, Steve Larder, Natalie, Edd Baldry, Tom Fiction, and Isy (thank you comments!) (as drawn by Steve)
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The Zines on Toast Tour is a road trip travel comic zinester style. The story follows the ‘fun idea made into reality’ of these six zine friends as they drive across the US seeing the sights and giving zine readings along the way.

This zine really caught my attention from the get go. I do so love crisp, clear handwriting and this art style. However, even more than that, I love the different style of the cover. I’ve never seen an ‘the cast’ style of introducing everyone involved, and it gives a feeling of the ‘fun’ vibe that continues inside.

I really love the art for this zine. The panels are small but they are detailed without being too busy. While I couldn’t exactly say, “Oh, that’s Alex, and there’s Steve” in every panel, I didn’t find that as confusing or a negative.

I was a little worried that a zine like this might have inside jokes and references I didn’t understand. I didn’t have to worry, though. Funnily enough, the references that were made had asterisks and notes to what was being referenced.

As far as attribution for this zine goes, I must admit that I’m a little confused. I’ve listed everyone on the cover (and by the cover you can see where to start finding these people if you want to know more), but I have no idea who the ‘Me’ is of this group. I’d have to scan through it again to see if any of the speech bubbles refer to ‘Me’ by name…

This is a zine that I like looking at, and I will do so again many times in the future.

Mini-Zine Review: Brainscan 27 Ten Stories

brainscan-27-zine

Brainscan 27 Ten Stories
Alex Wrekk
https://portlandbuttonworks.com/

Brainscan 27 is a mini-zine about endings and adjusting to new realities. Looking at the world with new eyes.

This is a somber zine, but not self-pitying. While there are few words in number, they convey a lot more in emotion and further implications to the small life moment it captures. The small size and few(er) words actually lends itself quite well to this intimate acknowledgment of living in a moment, being in that moment, and then getting on your bike and riding away.

I was thinking how ridiculous it was that we had just signed our names to each page in a huge stack of papers to end something that only took a on page marriage license to begin.

Brainscan 27 encompasses a moment in one person’s life, but I feel like it could resonate with many more people than first glance might lead you to believe.

Zine Review: Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences

brainscan-21-zine

Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences
Alex Wrekk
http://www.portlandbuttonworks.com/

This zine is complicated.

I don’t mean that comment to be flippant or dismissive. Quite the opposite. I’ve never read a zine that had me examining my own behaviour and the behaviour of my partner to the extent that I felt the need to sit down and have an intense talk with my partner about our relationship. It’s that level of personal involvement with the content and its implications that earns it this comment from me.

As Alex Wrekk puts it, Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences “started out as a letter to explain my perspective to someone, to give context to my behaviors and concerns.” Inside, Alex documents thoughts, feelings, and the unanswered questions that surrounded her through her six-year relationship that eventually came to an end due to many things including emotional abuse.

What makes this zine a complex one is that it addresses the issues of emotional abuse and power dynamics within relationships. In school, I was taught about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even mental abuse in a rather cut and dried, black and white manner. But emotional abuse can be a more complicated issue and thus brushed over. And yet I feel like it’s so important because it’s the subtlety of this kind of abuse that can make it so dangerous.

At one point, Alex talked about having picked up a few of the bad behaviours from her ex-partner and how she’d caught herself using them. It was one of those examples that prompted me to have a sit down with Wanderer about the dynamics in our relationship.

Though Alex does talk about specific events, this zine is not a tit-for-tat list of every argument or event. Alex keeps it very much to her perspective, thoughts, and feelings during this time. If I had to guess, I’d say it was written very close to everything or at least during a time when everything was still quite raw. There’s an almost ‘foggy’ nature to some of Alex’s writing, especially at the end when musing the bigger picture: abuse in a society that seems to support the psychopath, the sociopath, the abuser, the manipulator. A ‘fogginess’ that I recognise in myself.

As someone who grew up with abuse, however, it’s hard not to inject my own thoughts and feelings regarding working through things into Alex’s experience of working through things. This is also something that makes this zine complicated – at least, for me to review it.

All in all, this is a zine I would recommend because there’s so much here to think about but also because it’s important for these experiences to be shared.