Zine Review: Submerging

Edited by Brian Cogan, Brett Essler, Mike Faloon, & Brendan Kiernan

Submerging is a full colour half-fold literature zine that also features photographs.

“Euphoria is a trail of exclamations points that you follow off a cliff.”

Despite what I imagine was a typo pluralisation of ‘exclamations’, there is something darkly amusing about that quote.

Submerging is a zine that contains four stories that I am assuming are all nonfiction. They read as non-fiction, but there’s no indication or introduction in the zine that makes that clear. (Though the website does mention that the zine includes personal essays.)

We start off with an interesting diary-style piece that starts with anti-anxiety medication, wanders into the realm of analysing politics in the United States, and ends on a sad note in the Philippines. The pieces that follow cover a heart attack, a slightly stranger (in structure) piece about memory and health heartbreak (no spoilers here, zine friends), and a piece about aging.

I finished the first story a little confused and feeling like perhaps there was something in it that I just wasn’t understanding fully. However, I settled right in with the pieces that followed. The heart attack fascinated me (as strange as that is to type. The structurally stranger piece was still intriguing, and the piece on aging? It felt a little sad because of the inevitability of everything (and because of the age I’m at), but it ended on an unexpectedly cheery note that left me feeling good.

While writing exploring health – both mental and physical – may not sound appealing to you on the surface (it’s definitely an interesting topic to me, so win there), the personal element to these pieces draw you in.

Submerging is a nice zine to look at and touch. It’s made with smooth, glossy paper, and everything looks very clean and crisp. The typography choices are nice, and little things like the drop cap at the beginning of pieces adds to the overall package. I like the inclusion of photos as well. They break up the text, but there aren’t so many that it would confuse this being primarily a literature zine. (I can’t decide whether the cover photo or ‘En Route’ is my favourite picture.)

The writing voices in this zine worked well together, and I can see myself going back to read some of the stories again. If you’re looking for a literature zine with a taste of photography to check out – or maybe even submit to – then this is a zine to have a look at.


Mini Zine Review: the little zine of mindfulness

the little zine of mindfulness
Amber is Blue

The Little Zine of Mindfulness is an A7, full colour zine with tips for what you can try when you are depressed or dissociated.

I like a good self-care zine, but there is something really nice about a self-care mini because it’s something that I can take along with me easily anywhere. A bit of confidence and calm in my pocket wherever I go.

This mini-zine contains five useful tips – some even new to me despite all the self-care zines that I’ve read at this point. Each tip is framed in blue. I really liked this choice because I think that, along with each being on its own page, the ‘frame’ could be something to help the reader focus on one thing at a time (something I struggle with even at the best of times).

While simple in its nature, I think this is another handy mini to add to your collection of self-care zines.

Mini Zine Series Review: Sensitive Adult

Sensitive Adult
Darcy Rock
FB & IG: @sensitiveadultdaily

Sensitive Adult is a free, A6, black and white zine series about emotional sensitivity and being a sensitive adult.

There is a strange sort of comraderie to be found in mutual unease with the world. I’ve always considered myself to be a bit too sensitive for the world, so this series was immediately appealing.

Through this series, Darcy touches on different subjects in a sort of ‘thoughts of the moment’ style rather than necessarily something that follows one to the next or needs to be read in any particular order. Medication, unemployment, unhealthy coping skills – Darcy covers many subjects with a writing style that is contemplative while also not getting lost within the subject at hand.

I identified a lot with what Darcy wrote on everything, marking bits here and there that resonated with me in every single issue.

What started off as (and still, in many ways, is) as a smiling, nodding along ‘that’s so me’ series of zine reads became very serious for me with the last one I read “On Death: How I imagine the end of my life”. I once again had to tip my hat to the realisations that perzines can bring in how it changed my perspective on what I thought was a good way to live my life.

If you see these zines, pick them up. It’s always a good thing to take in different perspectives, and you might just find out a thing or two that you didn’t know before.

Mini Zine Review: The Little Things

The Little Things
Lily C

The Little Things is an A6 black print (mostly) on blue paper zine about mental health and self-care techniques.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I love a good self-care zine, and Lily really takes it to a new level in The Little Things.

The zine starts off with an introduction to self-care and how a suggestion from a psychologist helped to create this visual self-care list. This isn’t a text-only list, however. Each self-care suggestion is given its own page, but more than that, they all come with a drawing as well to illustrate the list item.

Lily’s art style is very realistic and detailed. There are so many little things that made me smile as I looked through. The Sailor Moon drawing in ‘Drawing for Myself’ and the roses on the teacup in ‘Drinking Tea’… The suggestions are good in and of themselves, but the art adds a different dimension. I feel calmer and in a nicer space just paging through and looking at the pictures.

When I finished this zine, I realised how much I liked the details included in the introduction of how this zine came to be. Whether intended or not, this has inspired me to make a list of my own.

If you’re interested in self-care and/or an artist you may not be familiar with, I recommend checking out this zine.

Zine Review: Fully Sick, Chronically Sad

Fully Sick, Chronically Sad
Amber is Blue

Fully Sick, Chronically Sad is a black and white comic zine with a colour cover somewhere between A5 and A6 about mental illness.

I struggled a lot with this zine. Not so much with the zine itself but because I’ve been there – and am there still in many ways.

In various drawings, Amber is Blue takes us through what it’s like having a mental illness and the constant struggles coming from inside and the world around us in dealing with it. Medications can be wonderful, but wonderful meds that work are often not affordable. Therapy helps, but the current system doesn’t exactly help with consistency.

Amber is Blue doesn’t mince words when it comes to dealing with these frustrations and more. There is no mystery when it comes to how Amber is Blue really feels about these things.

As I mentioned, I identify a lot with Amber is Blue and all of the nonsense that comes with these things. I think it’s valuable to share these experiences so people don’t feel alone. While this zine stirred up a lot of feelings in me, one of those feelings was a desire to write more about my own experiences with mental illness.

I do feel I should mention one content warning, though, in that suicidal thoughts and dealing with suicidal thoughts are mentioned.

There weren’t any contact details in the zine itself, but I’ve dug up some links for you if you’d like to check out more of Amber is Blue’s work. Fully Sick, Chronically Sad has a part two and three, which I’m looking forward to checking out.

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 »

Zine Review: Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health

Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health
Queer Marshmallow
IG: @queermarshmallow

Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health is a black and white… I feel like it falls under the category of perzine, but I really want to call it a ‘contemplation zine’.

In Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health, Queer Marshmallow explores thoughts on the meaning of ‘radical vulnerability’ and how it applies within the context of mental illness. More specifically within the realms of anxiety, depression, and borderline personality disorder.

I started reading this zine knowing that I liked the way ‘radical vulnerability’ sounded but also knowing that I wasn’t actually sure what it was all about. With recent events leaving me feeling particularly vulnerable, I decided it was about time to look into it.

As much as I wanted a solid, ‘official’ definition, I like how QM started from a place of what radical vulnerability meant to them and then took it from there. At no point was there a feeling of being told what is, only personal interpretations. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think the writing could have demonstrated any more perfectly exactly what it was talking about.

I didn’t expect to identify so strongly with this zine, but I truly did. Perhaps it’s simply from the common mental diagnoses, but I have many times asked myself the same questions QM asks. Where is the line between expressing what is going on and becoming a burden? When does honest become too honest?

This zine isn’t a guide or a how to, but it is a beautifully vulnerable – excited but shy – exploration of feelings when it comes to opening your true self up to the world. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, pick up this zine.