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Mr Writer

August 22, 2011

A post in which I try and make up for neglecting my blog by saying I’ve recently become a writer for the awesome Three Thousand website, and that I’ve mostly been doing zine reviews. These are the ones I’ve covered so far:

Chris MikulBiblio-Curiosa 

Maude FarrugiaThat Hurt! 

HotRodLibrarianRealia #1

AmandaEpitaph For My Heart #6

(#32 seems to have disappeared…)

Ghoster ZinesTales Of A 34-Year-Old Man Whore

Vanessa BerryDisposable Camera

Emma DTomorrow’s Machines Today #2

AnonymousFairytales In The Supermarket

Tiffany HoyConfessions Of A Pizza Deliverer

Lachlan CharlesGoblin Mag #12

Philip DearestOff My Meds

Beard ZinesSonic: The Lost Levels

Cougar FlashyHaulted Horizons

AnonymousLiving Room #2

Ben HutchingsYou Stink & I Don’t #9½

I have, also, however, still been reviewing for Sticky’s monthly newsletter thing, and here are some of those reviews. Here. To read. If you like.

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Off My Meds, Philip Dearest, wowphilip@gmail.com, $6 /

Wash Your Hands & Repeat #1Philip Dearest And His Fucked-Up Friends, wowphilip@gmail.com, $10

The recent discovery of Philip Dearest’s illustration zines has brought a whole new avenue of head-fucking imagery into my life. Like most art where the subject is the artist’s ongoing mental anguish (in this case anxiety, panic disorder, manic depression, distorted sensory perception, OCD, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, tics, hypochondria, schizoaffective disorder, seizures and photosensitivity…Jesus Christ that poor guy), the question that pervades the viewer’s mind is surely this: would you rather be a better artist than simply be, well, better?

Off My Meds pretty much suggests that Philip Dearest would, indeed, rather be a better artist. Or at least make darker and more twisted work at the sake of his own health, as he realised one day that his “creativity is muffled by the pills” and decided, without telling his psychiatrist, to just stop taking them. Whether the warped results are due to a lack of medication or not is hard to tell, but still, the experiment is an interesting (if not especially cheering) one. I’ll be honest, although Dearest’s talent means a lot of this work is easy to enjoy despite the perverse content, there are some parts I find way too horrific to admire or even stomach. The distorted religious iconography, trees growing out of limbs, babies with two tongues and tattooed creatures with twenty-one nipples I can deal with. But I don’t really want to see a cartoon cock ejaculating so hard into a girl’s mouth that it starts to seep out of her eyes and ears, regardless of how many tablets you’ve decided to eschew this month.

In terms of drawing about the medical issues themselves, Wash Your Hands & Repeat is much better at expressing how the drawer must be feeling. For a start, the illustrations are only about the effects of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – meaning it feels a lot more focused – plus they are drawn by a number of different artists that also have the same mental issues, so there’s inevitably a bit more variety. (Dearest’s contributions are slightly toned down, possibly the muffling he claimed those meds were doing I suppose, although I have it on good medical authority that OCD doesn’t make you want to scribble swords coming out of vaginas anyway.) Amongst the recurring symbolism of gushing taps and somehow vicious-looking soap pumps are some genuinely affecting tableaus about the condition. Marta Bystron’s naïve portrayal of a giant bald head covered in insects leering over its victim is oddly unnerving, while Jack Teagle’s panel of someone slowly drowning is strangely moving. It’s Anastasis Tsiatsias who steals the show though, with both the dismembered hands in bleach and the slobbering, foul-mouthed bathroom sink with teeth being the perfect renditions of a comic book-style nightmare. It’s in no way the most shocking image here, but for me it definitely had the most impact.

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Galactic Regency Vampire PiratesLeopoldina van Wowser-Ainwright, willwriteforcheese@gmail.com, $7

A couple of years ago the pulp romance author Leopoldina van Wowser-Ainwright published the self-explanatorily titled guidebook How To Write A Mills & Boon-esque Bodice Ripper Novel, which you can now read and attempt online. I had a go at following the formula and penning a trashy paperback bestseller myself, but unfortunately the plot synopsis kept reading like an awful and blatant rip-off of Sleepless In Seattle, only set in 1940s London and with the Tom Hanks character being more of a beefcake. With nowhere near enough smut either. Remembering that I’d failed to achieve the aims of KLF’s The Manual in a similar fashion, I decided to leave such literary titillation to professional vanity writers instead.

It seems this may have been the outcome for most readers, though. Despite the chronically unpublished having access to her trade secrets for ages now, there’s yet to be a decent pretender to Madam van Wowser-Ainwright’s rom-zine throne spreading their wares across the Sticky shelves. Happily, then, the release of her long-awaited novelette Galactic Regency Vampire Killers emphatically shows the budding romantic fantasy writer how it’s really done. Although the saga is evidently honed out of admiration for the trash-lit genre, there are enough wry details and thrilling plot twists to keep the story both knowingly amusant and giddily enthralling. In a market currently saturated with young buff vampires, this epic romp manages to keep the theme fresh by throwing in pirates, aliens, zombie space possums, dastardly doppelgangers and fiendish parrots. Plus it refers to the main character’s penis as “his canoe”, which I doubt Stephenie Meyer ever did. Deserves to be a staple of public libraries – with a couple of especially dog-eared pages near the middle – for years to come.

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It’s Hard To Poo In Singapore & Other TalesBeard Zinesbeardzines@gmail.com, 50c

Zinemakers occasionally avoid using their own names for all sorts of reasons. Some want to complain about people they know and are trying to reduce the risk of them finding out. Some want to express troubled emotional scars that they don’t feel ready to put their name to yet. And some just want to talk about how constipated they were when they went on holiday.

As you can imagine, It’s Hard To Poo In Singapore falls into this last example. Even though it’s an illustrated story populated heavily by talking turds – leading the writer through sewers, wearing necklaces made out of sweetcorn, and generally teaching on how to make the body produce them less traumatically – the drawings never really feel particularly disgusting. I think it must be because the zine is drawn on graph paper, in a cartoony style you can imagine a bored physics student absent-mindedly doodling while trying to forget their digestive dilemmas, giving the whole thing a childlike curiosity and naivety that makes it oddly cute. Well, as oddly cute as a picture of two Singaporean natives defecating so powerfully that the momentum is pushing them high into the air can be, I suppose.

As for the other tales, well, they’re more like short potted musings, but they manage to be thoughtful and funny despite being only a few words long. I particularly like the page about not being able to find a bin in Singapore: “Is this a bin? I put some rubbish in it. Sorry if it’s not a bin.”

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Zeene #2: Baseball / Zeene #4: Dogs, Nick & Greg, http://bit.ly/omgzeene, $1

Dear Everyone at Zeene,

The person who puts together the Sticky mailout gave me issues two and four to review of Zeene, primarily to explain some of the British references littered across your content. I suppose they want to me to write a few hundred words explaining who people like Ed Balls, Tim Westwood and Christina Millian are, but hell they’ve got Wikipedia to do that job for them. I’m choosing to write an open letter instead, because I have a few questions I want to publicly ask you.

1. Why did you give a whole issue the theme of baseball when you confess to knowing absolutely nothing about it? I’m not criticising this motive by the way I’m just curious as to how that sort of decision occurs.

2. In the Onion-style spoof news article where you claim a baseball player was guilty of playing rounders throughout his career, do you mean he played games on the side or that, when he was meant to be playing baseball, he was playing it as if it was rounders instead?

3. Where can I find more information about the illustrator Rebecca Holmes? Her drawings of baseball players are easily the best thing about issue two.

4. Is the story about a cinema for dogs real? Because you’ve obviously fabricated a lot of the stuff you’ve written so now I have difficulty trusting you.

5. Where do your photos come from? Some look like the handiwork of Google Images but others, like the dog ones, look like they come from someone’s personal scrapbook.

6. Finally, can you do an issue on fish? Thanks.

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Goblin #12, Lachlan Charles, potatomash44@hotmail.com, $1.50
If you’re not someone who was making zines before you became a teen, what sort of thing do you reckon you’d have made? The gradual arrival into Sticky of comic-style zines by pre-pubescent boys – BunnieZ, Stupid Man, Chainsaw Ally etc. – have made me wonder this, as they all seem to revolve around themes of aggression, sometimes enacted by or upon fluffy animals. As someone who wasn’t allowed to watch Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as a kid because it was deemed too violent, it would never have occurred to me to draw anything as gruesome or indeed ass-kicking as this lot do.
Despite this, I think the ongoing Goblin series is especially awesome. You might think this is a symptom of some repressed boyhood need to think about mythical beings that kill loads of other mythical beings and then eat their brains, but really I reckon it’s just because it’s a pretty cool zine. There’s some ace features like Goblin News from Bob at the Channel 5 newsdesk (a volcano has erupted, plus hats are coming back into fashion) and an interview with “the greatest ever goblin warrior” Gannabil which – spoiler alert – ends badly. There’s also a selection of iPad app reviews (something called Chop Chop Caveman gets a perfect 10) and book recommendations (Hunger Games is pronounced “my favourite book ever”). As always, though, the raddest thing is the drawings of warriors and weapons and fighting outfits that make reading this zine feel like you’re starting up a juvenilia edition of Street Fighter designed by the lovechild of JRR Tolkien and Alan Moore. Who wouldn’t want to enter into a beat-em-up arcade game with a mad muscle-bound welder wearing an afro devil wig and a t-shirt saying ‘sorry about your face’, perhaps while packing a scythe and riding about in a bladed chariot? Well, probably a girl. Because girls smell, right?
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2011 5:50 pm

    Pssst…next time separate all the reviews into different blog posts and backdate them…your blog won’t look neglected at all, then! *thumbs up*

  2. October 18, 2011 8:31 pm

    http://www.oreardon.com/zeene/2011/10/a-reply-to-fulsom-prism/

    Love from ZEENE x

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