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.
Terrible Comics Presents: The Life and Times of Cashed Up Bogans
Sober Bob Monthly
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.
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
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.
Portraits Issue 1
I hate to admit it, but I do feel a touch of envy when I see such talented artists – especially those who can draw people well. Chloe Henderson is definitely no exception to this.
Portraits Issue 1 is a collection of portraits – mostly in black and white but some with colour elements – printed on glossy paper. Most of the portraits are of celebrities, but some are more personal – and all contain fantastical elements.
Reading this zine is like going to an art show. Each portrait on the right hand page is paired with a title and text – a brief description of how the piece came to be. I liked taking it at my own pace – taking in the portrait, letting my thoughts wander in regard to it, and then bringing myself back over to the text so I could learn more from the artist’s perspective.
The higher quality paper really served Chloe well in this zine. So much of her art style can draw you in to the tiniest details, and shadowing through from other pages would have ruined that effect. I think it also helped the limited use of colour pop all the more.
Usually with these sorts of zines, I pick a page or a picture that sticks out as a favourite to me, but it’s so hard in this one. I think ‘definitely Jennifer Lawrence’ but then I look at Neil Gaiman again. And there is something very different about the last of the collection that sets it apart on its own amongst the other portraits.
So I’ll have to say sorry because a favourite is not jumping out at me. I like them all.
Holy contact details, Batman! Talk about a contact page. The back cover has pics of Chloe, a bio, links, and even Chloe’s logo. If you’re going to be clear about who you are and where you’re at, then check out the back cover of this zine.
If you like zines with art and drawings, then this zine should be a part of your collection.
My Thoughts Will Kill Me
For today’s review, we have a sad but strong mini zine about living with mental illness.
My heart hurt reading this zine because I’ve been there so much. Buzzing thoughts that more often multiply than go away… It’s strangely easy to forget that you’re not alone, so my heart breaks every time I read about someone else’s experiences.
The thing that I found so interesting with this zine is that MissMuffcake never mentions a specific mental illness. I actually went back to read through again and check because I’d automatically started applying her words to my own mental health struggles. It blew me away when I looked back and realised that, even though there are so many different labels, we still have so much in common.
I am just one in many who have a mental illness. I am not alone.
While it was sad, it was also comforting to read the quote above and know that Miss Muffcake knows she’s not alone.
Even better? That through it all, she still finds humour. (Cake is a wonderful motivator.)
Definitely check this little zine out whether you are dealing with mental health issues or want to better understand friends who are.
Self Help 2
Self Help 2 is a zine about perfectionism, finding the right self-care, defending your needs, and having hope for the future. It’s also a zine that I found was enhanced by the zine that came before it…
Part of the reason that I decided to put this review up so quickly after my review of the first one is the experience I had in reading them one after the other. They certainly work completely well as standalone zines, but I got some added enjoyment out of reading them together like I did.
The perspective that I liked in Self-Help 1 of looking back on the teenage years with the gaze of someone in their late twenties is echoed in a way in this zine. Instead of the usual jump of a couple months to a year or so in most perzines I’ve read, the jump from the first to the second in this series is a jump from 26/27 years old to 31 years old. Not huge, but certainly significant when it comes to looking back.
One particular topic touched on in this zine that I found interesting is the stigma that exists even within ‘open’ communities when it comes to using ‘traditional’ approaches to mental illness treatment like medication and seeing psychologists/psychiatrists. I like reading about people finding success with those things just as much as I like reading about people who find success in other ways. I think it’s important for people to call out hypocritical behaviour that deters people from finding success in whatever way they can.
This zine still has the ‘scrapbook’ type feel with ‘outside’ pieces included, but this one had a bit more writing and reflection, which I like. There’s also still a focus on perfectionism. As the author writes, “Changing things is a slow, slow, slow process”. Something I feel is reflected in the jump of time between zines but more of a noticeable point when you read the zines one after the other.
I hope anyone who reads this zine can get Self Help 1 at the same time and read them both. I found it inspirational to see someone learning and growing so much in the space of two zines.
A PS for readers outside Australia: This zine comes with seeds, so you may need to request that they are removed before it’s sent.
Heard Presents: The Colouring Fun Zine
Today I have a short and sweet zine to review for you – a colouring zine!
Unlike some other colouring books that are touted as being relaxing, this one is more of my idea of what’s relaxing with plenty of different shapes and things to colour – none of which are too intricate or complicated.
It’s printed on nice, thicker paper for colouring. You might think that’s a given for a colouring zine, but I’ve seen the thought neglected before.
I have to give kudos where kudos are due when it comes to the contact page being clear, easy to read, and giving multiple ways to get in touch. However, I have to give a bigger hat tip to this zine acknowledging the original owners of the land on which the zine was created. It’s a lovely way to recognise indigenous Australians.
All up, I liked this zine. It’s a positive, relaxed zine for a time when I greatly appreciate it.
If the one with puzzles in it is as good as this one, I know I’m going to love it.