zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, January 23, 2017

If you're into it! - Episode 1

If you're into it! - Episode 1: Hit the dance floor!

By Celeste Inez Mathilda

64 pages, 8.5x5.5 inches. 

$4 / trades / PWYC

In the interest of transparency I must state up front - I LOVE CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE. 

(For those of you who might not remember Choose Your Own Adventure books are those in which you are instructed to choose between two or more options at the bottom of a page, then you turn to the indicated page number to continue reading).

The original series is very close to my heart - my last project was a live interactive documentary about the books that inspired a generation*. I have a collection of hundreds and hundreds of books and zines that have used the 'Turn to page...' structure familiar to every Choose Your Own Adventure reader - everything from popular culture to parody.

This is all by way of saying - you can imagine my response when Celeste emailed to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing this zine!

Consent is an hugely important topic, particularly in a climate where actions of those not given consent often go unpunished, and are often not punishable. Despite the potential heaviness of the themes the writing in If You're Into It! has wit and a lightness of touch, and uses some of the tropes of Choose Your Own Adventure to good effect - particularly if you choose to follow a situation that ends badly.     

If you're into it! uses a gender free central character, you - much in the same way Edward Packard conceived of his original books. Taking it further, Celeste expands that fluidity to every other character you meet too. Setting up the story as an 'erotic, or not' adventure gives the narrative drive and anticipation, but using the decision making of the reader to explore different facets of consent I think really works - coupling desire with awareness of others. (It stands directly in opposition to the reprehensible Behind Closed Doors for example, another choose your own style 'erotic' adventure but in which you can live out your fantasy of being raped by clowns. No, I. Kid. You. Not.)

There are more zines planned in this series that overlap with the story started in this issue. I'm interested to see what other avenues of consent are pursued - many of which have the potential to be more subtle, serious, or complex. 

If you're into it! is really well executed, handled with humour and understanding - go support!

Buy a copy via Etsy: etsy.com/listing/476189444/if-youre-into-it-episode-1-hit-the-dance

Or contact ofcourseyoucandistro [at] gmail [dot] com

*One of the lasting outcomes of that project was becoming friends with Edward Packard - the originator of Choose Your Own Adventure - who at 86 is still writing and creating. His latest book It's a Miracle It Wasn't Worse, published this month, is a memoir throughout which he considers the consequences of choice and the ramifications of not actively choosing but coasting. 

Review by Nathan Penlington

Friday, January 20, 2017

Terminal Punk

Terminal Punk

Black & white, 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ 40 pages, illustrated.


V.Vale is responsible for the mind expanding counter culture publishing company RE/Search. Throughout the 80s and 90s RE/Search was crucial for treating the work of JG Ballard and William Burroughs with reverence long before the universities caught on; publishing anthologies about once taboo subjects such as body modification, and the history of women and tattoos - subjects that have had a renaissance of late before ultimately being co-opted by the mainstream. 

RE/Search have also published work of zine interest - re-issues of the influential punk zine Search & Destroy started by V.Vale in the late 70s (while he worked park time at City Lights Books), and the ground breaking collection of interviews with zine makers in Zines! Vol 1

V.Vale is counter culture personified. So he is in the perfect position to talk and write about Punk, not just as a short-lived music phenomenon, but as an ethos and aesthetic with relevance today. Terminal Punk is a series of interviews and conversations that reflect on the terminal philosophy of the Punk movement - not the spitting and safety pins Punk has been reduced to by the corporate machine - but the aesthetics, influences, history, and social outlook, that fuse into a way of living.   

Vale explores the DNA of Punk, outlining the three fundamental elements that form its make up: Black Humour; DIY / Anyone Can Do It; and Mutual Aid. Even if you don't think Punk is 'your' thing, if you have only the smallest interest in the creative process you'll take something away from reading this zine. Throughout Vale stresses the need to increase our awareness to fight the distraction culture we live in - making, distributing, and reading zines is still a significant way of doing that. 

As Vale says, "Until we have a perfect world I don't think Punk will ever be dead or obsolete".

Buy Terminal Punk direct from RE/Search researchpubs.com/shop/terminal-punk-zine-philosophy-w-i-p-by-v-vale

Signed copies are available from Rough Trade in the UK for £5: roughtrade.com/magazines/terminal-punk-zine-philosophy-w-i-p-by-v-vale-signed-copies

Review by Nathan Penlington

Monday, January 9, 2017

Munster Times #19 [August 2016]


38 pages, 11.5" x 8", by Matt Ryan, email mag [at] hotmail [dot] com for ordering info, and check out Munster Times Zine on Facebook

I heard that last year Melbourne was voted [not for the first time] 'The World's Most Liveable City', and it seems that I've discovered yet further proof the award is legit right here in the shape of Munster Times, a zine which - if I understand correctly - is FREE and can be found in Melbourne pubs where bands play. If I found a zine like this at the Townie here in Newtown, I would be over the friggin' moon! The closest thing we have is Unbelievably Bad which is $9.00 an issue [although of course no other zine comes close to it in terms of awesomeness - it's absolutely worth at least that much [UB#16 was also where I first read about MT!]].

Anyway, and even though yet again I'm late to the party on this one, as mentioned it's thanks to Unbelievably Bad [#16] that I wasn't even later.

Matt seems to be pretty heavy into the Melbourne live music scene, so most of his zine is taken up with interviews of bands and singers/musicians. These interviews are terrific. These kind of interviews are often terrible, with a great gaping chasm apparent between interviewer and interviewee. Not here. The subjects seem to know and respect Matt and the interviews benefit greatly. In this issue, Matt interviews The Rebelles ['60s girl bubblegum pop Phil Spector Wall of Sound-type band]; Teagan Robinson [Melbourne singer also interviewed in MT#14]; Them Rumblin' Bones [genre-defying pub rockers?]; and Lisa Crystal Carver [Rollerderby Zine, named by Playboy 'Best Zine Ever']. This was my favourite interview here. Lisa Carver has the greatest answers to interview questions. Example: Matt's first question, "How has 2016 treated you so far?" Carver: "Any year I'm still alive is a good year." [I am shamefully ignorant of Lisa Carver and her work, I'll admit it, even after Jojo so many times telling me how great she is.] I found out from this interview she wrote a book, Drugs Are Nice, which I will be tracking down a copy of the second I finish this review.

There's also a terrific review of the Stooges documentary film Gimme Danger. Matt writes at the beginning: "I aint a film person, so every chance this review sucks." I predicted it wouldn't, and it didn't. Not a Stooges fan myself [not even a Radio Birdman fan! Oh, the shame!!], this review has motivated me to track down a copy of THIS, TOO! Check out this great line... "... the talking heads are kept to the bare minimum. ... No hack from Rolling Stone who wasn/t even born when the first LP was released, no cockhead stadium rocker who claims the band was an influence when his band sounds nothing like theirs, and no Bono." And his final comment: "I wish someone could ave hit me in the head with a frying pan so I could forget the Stooges music and I could rediscover them all over again."

Finally, the tables are turned and Matt's mate Vic Meehan interviews HIM. "...thanks for aving me in my own zine Vic, love ya tons."

At the end of every interview, Matt asks the person what their favourite album is by The Fall. [Mark E. Smith is his absolute hero of all time.] The only thing missing from this issue is Vic asking Matt what HIS favourite Fall album is!

[Note: Munster Times is chock full of weird typos/spelling - it reminded me of Don Fields in his excellent Twilight World zine - but for me it's just part of the charm of both zines. I'd much rather have a great zine with lotsa typos than a boring shit zine with none.]

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