my zine collection

Illustration for the cover of my upcoming zine, Specimens, Collections and Curiosities II. It’s like a sequel to my first zine, but it has more witchy things! I’ll have them in my shop at the end of the month, AND I’ll have them at my table at MoCCA in NYC on April 1 and 2nd. It’ll be my first time back in the city so please come say hi!

Kiss Off, by Chris Landry. (Featured: issue #12.)

They must put somethin’ in the water in Canada, cos quite a number of my all-time favorite zines are from my neighbor to the north. As I said in the review I recently wrote of Kiss Off #14: Chris writes about the moments between the big events, and reading his zines is like reading a letter from an old friend.

(More Chris Landry on my blog: Sunday night, G. and I sat… Back at the apartment…)

On today’s episode of “If Rae could write Symmrat fanfic worth a damn”

A small Overwatch mission in Paris wraps up well after the midnight hours and is one of the first times the team can take a breather before going back to Gibraltar. On their way back to the rendezvous, Junkrat notices that Symmetra is distracted by some signage near one of the country’s many museums. He learns that shes a huge art nerd and one of her favorite artists had an exhibition that wrapped up earlier that day. This was the last time the art would be on exhibition to the public and after tonight, will be put away to a private collection for good.

Amused and amazed by her passion for art and through a FAIR amount of coaxing, Junkrat convinces her to let him take her on a mini break-in of the museum in order to see the art before its shipped off (”For the third time, love, I ain’t gonna pocket anything! Promise! Won’t even harm a hair on anyone’s head”).

After a exhausting yet thrilling night of close-calls with guards and being able to take a quiet moment to enjoy some of the museum’s sights, Symmetra comments on how impressed she is that Junkrat can be subtle when he wants to be. She offers to return the favor somehow, someway, if they keep this little detour field trip a secret.

Meanwhile Junkrat waves it off, citing that seeing her be so passionate and feisty for things as well as showing a bit of recklessness was a treat itself, much to her chagrin.

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In Abandon #4, by Mike.

It’s funny how, with a lot of these zines I’m writing about, I don’t just remember the zines themselves but also remember when and where I got them, or when and where I was when I first read them. That’s how my memory works though - zines, books, music, films that are important to me make me remember not just the works themselves, but also the specific time in my life when I first discovered them or when they first meant something to me. I remember buying this zine in a record store; I remember that day because my dad rushed in to tell me to hurry up (because my dad is always in a hurry), and he embarrassed the hell out of me in front of the really cute record store guy, but the record store guy was super cool about it and made me feel better.

Anyway. The zine itself meant - means - a lot to me, too. It contains stories about friendship and travel, crushes, wandering aimlessly, punk, you know, typical zine fodder but we wouldn’t all write about this stuff if it wasn’t so important. I know that when I first read the zine, it felt like it pointed toward a life I was already sort of living but wanted to fully immerse myself in - that life of exploring new cities and making friends across the country and writing zines and making music and living kind of simply but different from the way society and my parents wanted me to live - and shortly after reading this zine I did fully immerse myself in that life. And maybe I fucked myself over by doing that, but at this point it is all I know, and I don’t know what I would have turned out like if I’d done different things, so there’s no point in regret.

I didn’t promise these look-backs would be real reviews, so I hope you don’t mind that I’m mostly talking about myself rather than the zine here.

(More Mike/In Abandon on my blog: This is a product of months and months of no sleep…)

Songs About Ghosts, by Jasmine Dreame Wagner. (Featured: issue #1.)

There were only two issues of Songs About Ghosts, yet it is one of my favorite zines of all time, and still, all these years later, I want more of it. It is, of course, about ghosts: about people who have died but also about the places, the people, the memories that haunt us, that become our ghosts. It is so sad and beautiful.

In the intro to issue #1, Jasmine stated that the reader should read it in a public place, so I did - I read it at the pub I spent most of my time at, back then. I have read it so many times since.

I also met Jasmine in person, once: she and her tourmates stayed at the punkhouse I lived in during the summer of ‘04, when they were in Chicago on tour with the Perpetual Motion Roadshow.

(More Jasmine Dreame Wagner on my blog: It’s sad, the way I allow myself…)

Phases of the Moon (and other zines by Stacey Marie). (Featured: Phases of the Moon #3.)

I’ve known Stacey for quite a long time now. We started trading zines and writing letters when we both did our not-so-great old zines, when we both romanticized everything and were super into the punk rocks. We’ve been IRL friends, and pen/zine/online friends, and we’ve seen each other grow as writers. But you know, I can’t help but feel that she has far surpassed me in recent years. Like, she’s getting over Punk as a Thing, and I’m still way too into it. Like, I’m still a hopeless romantic lovesick dork (to borrow a phrase she used to describe her old self), and even when she writes about the same kind of stuff I do, she seems less apt to romanticize everything. She’s a bit younger than I am, but for some reason in her writing she comes across as older, more self-possessed, and wiser than I do. All comparisons aside, her stuff is awesome and she’s an amazing photographer, too, and she’s a great person.

I owe her a letter. I owe a lot of people letters. I am actually the worst penpal ever.

(More Stacey Marie on my blog: I don’t want my 30s to be entirely consumed…)

Cometbus, by Aaron Cometbus. (Featured: issue #53.)

Well, I mean, obviously. What zinester wasn't influenced by Cometbus? I don’t think I can overstate the importance of this zine/Aaron’s writing in my life, though. Basically, reading Cometbus is what lead me to quit writing a fanzine that was mainly focused on stuff I was into, and start writing a perzine that was mainly focused on stories from my own life/heart/head.

(More Cometbus-related stuff on my blog: Sprung. Because nothing sounds quite so good as failure… I thought just by sharing a life together… More important is taking the lifestyle… The much hated mantle of music critic… A Day at the Lake. Yes, Waffle House is the place to be… Now I wished I hadn’t gone so many places all at once… Punks, Jews, and old folks have always been my natural constituency… (This Is A) Haunted Town. If I’m bad now… Places get stacked with memories… Let the older trash laugh… MDC were… Now so many stories never get told… If punks still danced… Of course, as we’ve gotten older… How do you take your mind off your broken heart? See, punks really are the glue that holds society together… Looking around this room… There is a particularly fulfilling feeling of diving into a hedge… I remember this one old Clash interview… What other culture is so critical of itself?)

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Today’s International Zine Month ‘challenge’ was to take a photo of yourself either with your zine, or your zine collection. I couldn’t decide which one to do, so I did both.

top photo: (part of) my zine collection. Far left: zine-related books. Next to that: Some of my favorite zines. (Featured: zines I’ve recently received that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.) To the right of the doll: zines and books I have published in the past 15 years, as well as other zines/mags/papers that I have contributed to or that have reviewed my zines. (Featured: Lost & found & ten years down, from 2009, which I have recently realized is probably the best zine I have ever done/will ever do.) Not pictured: zines I made prior to 1999, and the rest of my zine collection - those are all in boxes in my basement.

bottom photo: me, with Reckless Chants #20, the most recent zine I’ve published.

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Kill Yr Boyfriend #1, by Mikelanne.

This zine was like, the epitome of a mid-to-late ‘90s riot grrrl-ish zine, and that’s probably why I have so much affection for it. It was named after a Bis song! There were a million manifestos and Kathleen Hanna reprints! From the Jayne Mansfield photo on the cover to the style of Mikelanne’s writing, you could tell she was also influenced by Francesca Lia Block! That little snippet addressed to Jessica? That was to me. Awww. I lost touch with Mikelanne years ago, but I think about her a lot; I miss the fucked-up, sweet, strong teenage grrrls we were, sometimes.

Elegiac, and other zines by Molly Kalkstein.

I picked up Elegiac at Quimby’s, and then a couple years later, Molly and I became penpals/mix-tape traders/zine traders - so the other two zines of hers I have were sent to me personally. I remember the first letter she wrote to me after she’d read one of my zines, she said something like: “Your stories make me nostalgic, though I was never a punk rock girl - I’m more of an indie pop hermit.” She made some of the best mix tapes I’ve ever gotten from anyone, and once she sent me a bottle of homemade bitters. We almost met in person, twice, but it didn’t work out. Missed connections. Also, we both at one point had a crush on the same musician-boy, though the times when we knew him were years apart. I haven’t heard from Molly in years, and I wonder about her from time to time. All of her zines are small and sad and beautiful, they’re like sweet, lonesome folk songs without the music.

(More Molly Kalkstein on my blog: room two. my friends in philadelphia seem often sad…)

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Suburbia #7, by Ceci Moss.

This is one of the oldest zines that I still have in my collection. I can’t remember, now, if Ceci and I traded zines or if I paid for hers, and if we did trade: oh my god, Ceci, I am so sorry, my zine sucked back then. My zine sucked and this zine ruled: it is a queer/riot grrrl zine, full of love and rage, pieces on feminism, queerness, racism, classism, lady pirates! (see above), and even an interview with Cypher in the Snow.

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Emergency, by Ammi Emergency. (Photos from Emergency #5.)

As far as I know, Ammi stopped writing Emergency after #5, and that makes me really sad because these three issues I have were enough to make Emergency one of my favorite zines ever. Ammi’s writing is just so fierce and heartbreaking, whether she’s writing about break-ups, the death of a friend, or zines/punk/activism. I occasionally google her name just to see if she’s come out with a book or a new zine or anything, but so far, nothing.

(More Ammi Emergency on my blog: It’s hard to make a mess in middle class suburbs… Fuck this…life…)

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Drinking Sweat in the Ash Age, by Mike and Travis.

This was a split zine-book put together by Mike of Scenery zine and Travis Fristoe of America? zine. (You may also know Travis as the co-writer - along with Aaron Cometbus - of the Radon book.) It features each of their takes on various topics: biking, crying at movies, chess, computers, melancholy vs. belligerence, shit you hear at parties, the South, punk, leaving Gainesville, jealousy, dance to the music, smoking, responsible consumerism, gentrification, mail, and postmodernism. I like the whole thing - I reread it recently and it stood the test of time - but the only pages I dog-eared and passages I underlined were written by Travis, for whatever that’s worth.

(More Travis Fristoe/Drinking Sweat in the Ash Age on my blog: Which is why I get so wound up when jocks infiltrate our punk rock soccer games… can we fault a band for melody? Music matters.)