Zine Reviews – or: chaotic, messy, brilliant dancing is infinitely better than not dancing at all.

Here is a brief review of some new media that came through the doors of Long Haul. Casual yet positive changes have occurred in the space over the years, including the transformation of one of the lofts into a zine making space. By making some simple yet useful tools available, people have slowly discovered them and set to work projecting their dreams and ideas. The output has been promising — people we don’t know come in and make things we never imagine seeing. The Long Haul has a cache of practical tools; typewriters and pens, dictionaries and rulers, staplers and glue, rub on lettering and border tape, light table, computer and fat boxes of clip art. We invite people to replenish the space with your zine or flier, bring us some unused graphics, leave a copy of what you make for our library or some to sell at the info shop. Slingshot has also set up a fund to loan people money to get their zine out there (and to not knock out Lily, our copy machine). So the next time the media cycle starts up with its “Death of Print” story we will be able to turn to a rich and ample underground press.

A Time to Die

dompro71@yahoo.com

A Time to Die is the title of a series of four zines that can be read sequentially or piecemeal. As a teenager, foreign and art films lulled me to sleep and likewise with my first reading of these zines I could vaguely see a drama with characters being played out, but my thinking was too dull to catch their meaning. My second reading was still dream inducing, but I could at least catch and appreciate what the editor was doing. The writings switch from narrative to impressionistic observations, from manifesto to invocations as rich visuals of cutouts tell another story next to the words. In some ways I find the writing similar to Ginsberg’s Howl. The writer of these zines (and other anomalies) goes by the name Comatulid. It’s all done off the cuff with little attention placed in refinement. Spelling errors are ample, and the layout seems rushed. But what you get with it is raw emotion. The whole thing opens and often returns to the death of the writer’s mother. You also get ample insights on the value of casting off an oppressive reality and stepping into an imaginary possibility. I used to be abusive to Comatulid thinking that this self-absorbed music snob was only good at getting in the way — little did I reckon with the revolutionary potential of hallucinations. (eggplant)

As We Get Older and Stop Making Sense #1

3115 Filbert St. Oakland, CA 94608 piano.wires@gmail.com

I was handed this comic zine while sitting on the curb in front of the Caffe Med on Telegraph. Moments later, while still giggling and turning through the 34 page, neon magenta-covered quarter-page zine, a hooded stranger handed me another publication — a Tele Times, B.N. Duncan’s mag, from 1981. Overwhelmed by whirring words and pages but still trying to soak in the art from both stacks of folded paper, I was elated — not only with the timely consequence of being in the right place at the right time but that these two publications fit perfectly together in a seamlessly suited spasm of then and now! Pretty auspicious, considering most people think Telegraph’s a useless shithole. With that said, editor Joey’s As We Get Older and Stop Making Sense brings up some old school Bay Area issues with a new skillfully abstract mind and clever pen work — despondency regarding cops, loneliness and bad vibes, punks wanting to go to the same old shows, shows, shows, “That’s all you ever want to do!”, some ardently Out-There floating thoughts about thoughts, Chicken Boy from Bay to Breakers, a serious statement about Dolores Park, death, misplaced body parts, and a tiny hand poking at our silent yet uneasy stomachs to remind us that our country is at war. (Bird)

Later Daze

1608 Prince St Berkeley CA 94703

Keith’s long awaited sixth issue is still scruffy, laidback and punk — all the elements worthy of curling up with. The grotesque line drawings on the margins of the text hint at the great things that are made by hand. The writing in this issue takes us away from the Bay Area to a summer job among scary rednecks in Wyoming, then takes us back home so we can sample burritos in the ghetto. There is a report from the front lines — street fighting, protesting Oakland’s Cops and also a reprint from an article from Slingshot #104, but he at least shrinks the words in case we were having an easy time reading. This zine has a lot of promise–this may not be the best issue to convince you but what else are you gonna do–make a zine? (eggplant)

Machines vs. the Sun – Issue 2

geodonuts@gmail.com

You have here stories of travel with a lot of subtle observation and sly humor. The generic review would leave it there, but what is at play is that this is coming from someone who has a thought-out ethos for dropping out. In the middle of the zine he relates his readings of T.A.Z. (Temporary Autonomous Zone) and how his and many other’s wanderings from subculture meccas are but a vain search for “No Place.” Yeah, I get the feeling we are just buying time until the big change falls from the sky. This zine opens with emails and vignettes taking us to shakedowns from border guards in Cuba, hitchhiking in Eastern Europe, drinking in Mexico City and getting bummed out at a Gilman reunion show. The writer seems most at home with a bike and cart the way most people are with having a door and walls. He gives us a How to Make a Bike Cart page in case we want to join him. As with all travel logs you and the writer are put in the company of strangers and strangeness, with the heightened sense of detail that accompanies one living in motion. (eggplant)

Maximum Rock n’ Roll-Comics issue

PO Box 460760 San Francisco CA 94146

What a great idea. What a cheap yet valuable ploy for attention. Think about it (or don’t), punks in some ways represent the mutation of culture, and likewise comics helped to usher in mass communication. The mutation of intelligence can be traced to many sources. Just read the book The 10 Cent Menace and you will see the thread of how comics preceded television to make it so people read pictures over words. So any punk publication has to contend with trying to convey ideas with images. Maximum being of some note since they have accomplished the great task of being a legitimate publication on the shelf and printed monthly now since 1981. This is impressive because it originates as a piss ass zine sold at punk shows by the dedicated few who made it. Over time it’s done a lot to inject discussion and an intelligent response to events. Just as impressive is how once the dedicated few have moved on and died, there have been others who carried on, often baring the same mistakes of the past. The mistake of this issue is the continuation of focusing on older accomplished artists (and with some art dating back 8 years), while raw fresh talent grows up underneath them unappreciated here in the Bay. Also, they print 20 pages of columns for people whose opinions would be better placed on a blog and not for a publication that is struggling to find a paying audience. For a scene that excels in incisive art, this comics issue is a good start to reconnect to the people and their base way of thinking. (eggplant)

No Gods No Mattress-Deadline Issue 3088 King St. Berkeley CA 94703

A lot of this issue is a result of a self-imposed deadline the editor Enola gave herself so that she could have a send off party. She took this issue on tour but kept it hidden from her route of shops and fans who would normally get a copy but missed her speaking dates. I guess that makes it a “Rare” issue — if you don’t consider every issue somewhat rare. In this one she admits to the urge to stop making zines, which is quite significant considering how much she has thrown herself into making zines these last 2 years. But then the rest of the issue is pretty good with the usual wearing her heart on her sleeve, reporting on the scene and ordaining it with crude but cute drawings. This issue’s big journalistic boo boo was in naming a new house before they really decided on it. This reveals the power of the press and its abilities to shape opinion. I am ultra aware with this in regards to this zine since Enola once printed a letter critical of the Long Haul that was misinformed — and it was not challenged. But I guess it’s pretty hard to learn how to dance without stepping on toes. (eggplant)

P/P/J/Psionic Plastic Joy – Issue 16 Fall 2010

PO Box 8512 Albany, NY 12208

This was really exciting to get but it was a little hard sitting down to read it. I kinda gotta wonder what the uniformed reader will get from picking up something like this paper. It’s far away from your average conservative town paper — even different from your generic lefty paper. The primary drive seems to be art, but their surrealistic approach to it just may throw people into a figure “ATE”– even if the reader is well versed in politics and fringe thinking. But if you’re patient you will find gems. Early on the editor rants against the internet with such brilliance as “E-mail is false telepathy.” No qualms here. But much of the writing is made about a font size too small, making it necessary to squint your whole time reading. And likewise all the excellent art peppered throughout the pages is only given a quarter of the space needed to really be appreciated. Given that this publication has made the great leap from photocopy to newsprint (Like Slingshot!) it promises that a compelling issue is down the road. Maybe by then they will also get their printer to not make the resolution so fuzzy with the fields of solid black come out like fog. I also recommend they work with less material next time so that the shit they do present is solid. (eggplant)

ROT #1

avocado@riseup.net

“We’re all tiny and stupid, and we’re all secretly monumental and brilliant. 12 years ago I was getting criticized for holding my pencil wrong, now I draw comix and never have to go to school again!”

Here begins the first issue of Rot, a vibrant comic zine unearthed and cooked up like a timeless, crunchy bleeding beet by Katrina, who presently resides in a circus bus in Oakland, CA. Inside these pages you’ll be acquainted with some tough and pissed off ladies, heaviness, death, rape, epidemics, social issues. Also witchy trannies, oppressed armies, and all kinds of “inconvenient weirdos” that Katrina encourages to stand up and continue taking up space, ’cause “your existence is more appreciated and important than you know”. Among these ornate and raw comic marvels is “Tough-But-Sensitive Herbalist Bat Girl”, moonlit community garden animal jams, a numinous coffee cup reading and some simple but seriously needed commentary on comix, male gaze and women cartoonists. This zine plays like a good mixtape — noisy, varied, warm… and could’ve been dug out of an archive from a completely different time and place. (Bird)

“Shiny Things on the Ground”

PO Box 401 Berkeley CA 94701

Last time this zine was called Warm Socks yet this follows the thread that editor Brandt started. This issue he takes us to India, Greece and the streets and nooks of San Francisco. The writing has exuberant observations seeping with insights that just may be one-part caffeine, one-part Beat novel — mixed with a big dose of resistance. He seems aware of the dulling effects of keeping your head above water in the deluge of capitalism, and wishes to pass us a fresh breath. There are also brief shots of art — some of them messy comics, and some tasteful impressionistic collage. (eggplant)

SURREAL REALITIES ISSUE #0

Ona Tzar 1608 Prince St. Berkeley, CA 94703 or femmeluna@yahoo.com

All the good copy machines were occupied at Copyworld in Berkeley, but even more disorienting were the mysteriously familiar images of zine originals and copies littering every surface. “Is this my zine?” I thought, seeing an exceptional similarity to my art, and began scanning the room, half-expecting to see myself. Instead my eyes were calmed by Ona’s elegant figure, which was busily feeding the machines her embellished pages.

Oftentimes life experiences and connections with strangers are bestowed in ways more akin to literature than to reality, and I was struck by this while reading in Book Zoo. In Sartre’s Nausea, he carries the reader out of the rain and into a mostly empty restaurant. Other than himself, the only characters resting with him are the waitress and another man, who he quickly identifies as a parallel person, a colleague of the weird and lonely sort, “‘one of us’”. He’s annoyed when the man looks in his direction wishing to catch his attention, and he thinks, “What does he want? He must know we can do nothing for one another”, and later, “We are alike, that’s all. He is alone, as I am, but more sunken into solitude than I”. Similarly, when I found that Ona and I shared such a strong common ground in interests and aesthetics, I admit that I felt slightly detached, not attracted by her new zine. If we are so similar, do we have anything to teach each other?

All hesitations were lifted once I started reading, her lips seemingly whispering the words from the page. Written gracefully and with distinct determination and skill, Ona allows us to float along as she relives some rare blossoms of mosaic memories, morbid collages and intricate corners of an underground video store, an artist house, an orgy in the streets of New York. We’re introduced to characters straight out of a Gogol novel, as well as a “Russian, punk version of Pippi Longstocking”, sex addict housemates, couples obsessed with pain and manipulation, strippers and handcuffed street performers dressed in makeshift burkas. I am especially entranced by her words concerning delving and deviating from obsessions with the dark, morbid, and Gothic, as well as making a habit of finding and bending boundaries in order to destroy the banalities in life.

Although in some of the stories she was so shy that “alcohol [didn't even] work”, Ona consciously lifts herself from the hidden and keeping with the dreamy rhythm of the rest of the zine writes, “Sorry, I am not as mysterious as you apprehended, hoped for, desired. I am raw, I am human, prostrate before you”. I’m thankful for her vulnerability and her talent in writing such intoxicatingly potent prose… and I still think she’s mysterious. Like in any relationship, reciprocation is key, and these writings deserve a ferocious serenade. (Bird)

As you can see our materials are somewhat limited to what is circulating around town. Send us your zine for review! If we like it we may ask you to send some to sell at the Long Haul and at other awesome zine friendly stores in the Bay Area.