(all photos are homage to Mark‘s style)
A week or so ago, I purchased a couple of grab bags from the Bird in the Hand zine shop. BitH started as a passionate endeavour of Susy Pow! (exclamation mark required, just like Malki!) but was given further legs by the great Renew Newcastle project run by Marcus Westbury which allowed it to move into a real-life retail space. How great is that? Anyway, today I woke up with the great idea of liveblogging my opening of the package and reading of all the zines within. And that’s just what I did. Read on McGuff.
Sketchbook No. 4 by Brendan Halyday — $4
Starts with a disclaimer about how long it took for the z to be made, compared to the previous 3 sketchbooks. First few pages are kind of observational humour one-shots. Love Brendan’s line control, various thicknesses, etc. The picture of the man spitting out his teeth in a mess of ink is pretty great. A lot of the latter half of the z is personal, mostly to do with how Brendan feels about a recent break up, I think? The first few sketches of the girl in question are rough and half-finished, she hasn’t a face in a couple of them. Later, they become more defined as Brendan comes to term with it. z finishes with Brendan realising that this sketchbook has become a way of saying goodbye to the woman he loved. Very touching piece of work, I hope Brendan is getting on okay.
Stairway To Nowhere by Leigh Rigozzi (2nd printing, 54/100) — $5
Gorgeous cover, love ‘Birds in the wind’ (after a relative?). The inside back and front covers are cool as well; old photos of landscapes painted over with ghosts and clouds. Mainly mixed media throughout—I’m not good at talking art, so I won’t try here. Fav would probably be the repainted, anthropomorphised ‘Northenmost petrol station’.
I <3 Poor Spelling & Bad Grammar by Amanda — $1
Very cute. Amanda can’t spell and doesn’t use proper grammar. Favourite part of the rant/story was the line ‘I wish I could cover all my mistakes with a picture of a reindeer’. Also, the anecdote about the ‘lost dobby’ was so very true; sometimes it takes that kind of innocent laying bare to make us want to sit up and help.
I am my cats keeper & other miscomunications by George — $7
A collection of 12 fine-lined (not the pen, just the thinness of the lines) designs that could easily find a place on a person’s skin, or one of those crazy cool design blogs or tumblrs. Love the hand-stitching and the better=than-average grade paper.
Disposable Camera by Vanessa Berry — $3
It’s surprising me how personal some of these z are. This one is kind of a wander around the skull of Vanessa; she tells us how her mind is layered. Love the supermarket analogy, very appropriate. After a clever ‘Thought Map’ foldout, there’s a couple of tales about rabbits, finishing with a fervent hope of urban rabbit guerilla warfare. Nice.
Night Of A Thousand Tears by Pasquale Barilla (illustrated by Mechelle B) — $2.50
Now this is a z I can identify with. A charming tale of the rediscovery of Mario All Stars on the Super Nintendo, and the brother/sisterhood that formed when trying to finish the insanely difficult Lost Levels. Again, love the hand-stitched paper, and the statistics of the game were great.
Make out with Louise on the couch for a few minutes.
Break to go hang out my washing and make a coffee.
Just quit it. by Amanda (again) — $0.50
A memoir of jobs written as a reminder to Amanda and a piece of advice to others that it is totally okay to quit a job. They’ll get over it. You’ll get over it. Especially liked the shredded tax return design of this one. The fact that this was the cheapest z of all of them means something as well, I think.
Crimes to the Face! #1 by Ive Sorocuk (I think, that was his email) — $2
Not really one for me, I don’t think. Kind of a weird Johnny/Zim thing going on here, except not quiiite as well done.
Stopped to check email/sites, have a small nap, and some make snacks.
Next Stop Adventure! #one by Matt Gauck — $4
The story of a man who decided to go for a bike ride. Actually the story of a man who raced his friend to a place called Coward. On a bike made for an 11 year-old. Really the story of how a man discovered a love for adventure after 400 miles and $4. Well-written, funny, and thoughtful with charming little illustrations throughout.
Basic Wage Kids by Owen Hietmann — $4
Damn it, laptop battery almost dead. Gonna charge it for a half hour and come back.
And we’re back.
A collection of comic strips from the Basic Wage Kids webcomic. It’s not bad. I prefer my webcomics to be about gaming and/or dinosaurs, so some of the jokes likely went over my head. But it’s got a clean style and vaguely interesting characters. Probably better for someone who’s been in a college band before.
July 25th by Amanda (again again) — $1
Well now, this is interesting. This z is written about a year or so before the ‘Just quit it’ z, and starts by explaining that Amanda has just found her friend a job as a designer, while she herself is in her dream job of 3 years. Interesting then that ‘Just quit it’ finds them both hating their jobs and making a pact to quit the next July. A year from this z being made. How coincidentally lovely. The z itself is about Amanda trying to write the z for International Zine Day. So make that meta and coincidentally lovely.
The Garbage Truck Failures by James Andre, Bobby N, and Brendan Halyday (again) — $4
A series of a mixture of graphically designed shorts, poems, comics and graphics. Easy to see where Brendan has done the graphics, but I also like the new guy’s style. The words are kind of beat meets grit. I like it, reminds me of nonculture’s words. I can imagine it being great for spoken word.
Nanoworks by a whole bunch of people from the TINA workshops — $?
Don’t really have time to read through this entire thing, but the overall impression was one of tht kind of sketchy, vignette-ey writing that comes from writing workshops. I like that kind of thing, for the record. With a bit of backing money also comes better quality of print and cover design. Remembered how much I fucking love brown cardboard while reading this.
Sing Me To Sleep: An annotated bibliography of sad boy songs by Pauli Bryon (I think) — $4 (with bonus CD)
A collection of reviews of songs (a bibliography) with the common theme of being sung mostly by sad boys, and the introspection of the author when it coems to his tendency towards them. Some killer tunes in here, including Triffids, Smiths, Editors, Arcade Fire, etc. The author has shown some serious music chops in my eyes. Shall have to read this properly when I have time to pop the CD into a player. Shall have to buy a player too, else I’ll have to be reading in my car.
You, You, and You by someone — $?
These are an interesting trio. They are alternately sealed with staples, tape, and saliva, so the act of opening them destroys them to more or less of an extent. I think I’ll save them for when I have a truly quiet moment. I like the fact that such a simple thing—sealing the piece of writing—can have such a profound effect on my treatment of them. Says something about the value we place on objects.
And that about wraps it up. Total monetary value of the z collections was $46 + $? + $? + an afternoon of peeking into people’s lives + a bunch of email addresses of interesting people = great value for the $40 outlay. And I can pass them on at Christmas and birthday times. Highly recommend ordering a grab bag for yourself and doing the same; it’s a gentle kind of voyeurism.