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Lab Findings #6 [Feb 2016]

6 pages, 11 x 8.5", friendly letter or trades to Kobb Labs, PO Box 30231, Pensacola FL 32503, USA

In his full-page intro, Dr Bill writes about the preparations for his favourite holiday [Halloween]. After all his effort buying decorations and "all manner of pranks and gag-type gifts to hand out", no trick-or-treaters knocked on his door. One reason seems to be that his creepy-sounding house sits too far back from the street - in other words, it's too Halloween-y! Thanksgiving gets a mention, so does the pro-basketball season, Christmas and New Year's Eve. However, the word 'nice' is abused, appearing four times on this page. Dr Bill, a thesaurus might come in handy here, and you don't even need to buy one! The internet has 'em for free, without charge, free of charge, for nothing, complimentary, gratis, gratuitous, and at no cost!

Two and a half pages of movie reviews follow, then a separate piece on 'Halloween and Holiday Horror Views'; 'Recent Readings'; and 'The Avengers Banned Episode'.

Sample reviews highlight - Curses 2: The Bite [1989] ... So incompetent, the credits roll over some upbeat Kenny G-Style jazz, despite the total downer ending.

Sample reviews lowlight - Citadel [2012] ... Some of the addled story twists and turns past the halfway point literally pissed me off. ... [The misuse of the word 'literally' is everywhere these days, but since reading this I'm still trying to figure out what being "literally pissed off" means...]

Finally, Dr Bill admits that Lab Findings #7 might be exclusively devoted to letters received.

I Beg to Differ

16 pages, 8.5 x 5.5", by Chris Sabatini [AKA Maybe Parade] PO Box 1152, Olympia WA 98507, USA

Subtitled 'My Response to Reviews of My Work, That Appeared in Xerography Debt, or Would Joe Biel Know a Good Comic If It Bit Him On the Ass?' [a title of which length the LiveJournal 'Subject' field refuses to include beyond the word "Joe"]. this comic is a hilarious reaction to a few reviews written by Joe Biel and published in Xerography Debt #35 and #36. I would say it's very funny whether you even know who Joe Biel is or not. All you need to know is that Chris was so angry about these 'reviews' of his work that he responded by making a comic about it.

The first three pages are split between a small four-panel strip at the top of the page ['A Conversation With My Dog'] and a larger four-panel strip below it that imagines Joe Biel receiving Chris's comics and his subsequent thoughts and actions that led to his writing of the reviews. Next we see Chris receiving an email from Microcosm [the publisher of XD] letting him know that the forthcoming issue will feature reviews of two of his comics, which leads to great excitement, but also a frustrating quest to obtain the issue in question. When he finally does receive it, his hopes are shattered, and in another 'Conversations With My Dog', his dog [unsuccesfully] attempts to console him - "Relax - your activities are still as meaningless as they've always been."

But there's no stopping now - Chris imagines a couple of interviews with his nemesis about the concepts and intention behind his comics, at the same time criticising the critic for some of his reviewing techniques.

'I Beg to Differ...' ends with reprints of the reviews that started it all.

The Ken Chronicles #38 [February 2016]

28 pages, 8.5" x 5.5", $3.00, fair trade or letter of comment, Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Dr, East Meadow NY 11554, USA + PassScribe [at] aol.com + thekenbausertchronicles.blogspot.com

One of the greatest things about zines - or at least those few that actually have them - is the letter column.

Exhibit A: Fred Woodworth's The Match! and the bags of letters printed in each issue.

Exhibit B: Ken Bausert's The Ken Chronicles. This issue has four pages of letters, and one of them is from Don Fields [who produces his own zine, Twilight World], who writes a great letter. The main subject of his letter is about him noticing another letter-writer [and zine maker], Rodney L. complaining about the lack of letters he receives for each issue. Don goes on to explain why he isn't too worried about letters, and mentions a couple of other things, which led me to write Don a letter. Now I hope he writes me a letter.

After Ken's letter column is a 'Travelogue' of where Ken and his wife Ro went during August, September and October [not the least of which was a visit to Wo Hop for some Chow Fun!].

Next up, everybody's favourite [or second favourite, if it's not the letter column...] section - 'What I've Been ______ Lately'. This time Ken and Ro saw an off-off-Broadway production of semi-semi-famous zine person Ayun Halliday [The East Village Inky]. He also saw Joe Walsh at the Civic Center, and read The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test. It was strange to read Ken's experience of it, remembering my own reading of it many years ago, and how it opened a new universe for me. A universe I had previously been unaware of!

Finally, Ken reprints an Associated Press release about the death of Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress made famous by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in their 1970 films 'Trash' and 'Women in Revolt'. Ken's note at the end, where he mentions that he read Holly's biography a few years ago, and found it "very interesting" yet "kind of boring" appears to defy the laws of Aesthetic Physics. 

Envelope of the Month - January 2016

Here's the envelope Megaskank Mansion arrived in. Envelope of the Month! Thanks Shaun [Craike]!

Megaskank Mansion : Megacon

36 pages, 8.5" x 6", by Curt Sibling, Biesuiss, Relhok, Wicked-at-Heart, and Corelle Vairel --- No contact info whatsoever [fuck you]

"When super-spoiled zombie queen Foxxxy decides to host a huge comic convention at her Megaskank Mansion, every troll, brony and freak in town soon attends! Chaos erupts as Feminazis try to close down the event. Can the fandoms unite for once to save Megacon?"

Here at long last is the second issue of MM [I reviewed the first here] - and the wait has certainly been worth it.

Sure, one can enjoy the skilfully-executed drawings of "kickass cosplay queens ... dropping more sex bombs than ISIS", and I do love those, but what I love most about this series are the many references which I don't get, but since it's a word I've never come across, of course I must immediately look it up. [Example: the first issue's 'Weeaboo' - see review]

With this issue, it was a name. Tom Preston. Who the hell is Tom Preston? I didn't know, but I sure as shit had to find out right away! And then finding out who Tom Preston was led to my learning about the phenomenon of 'inflation artwork' - a fetish in which characters are artificially pumped full of air so that they expand.

Tom Preston

My only gripe is the complete absence of contact info. For a printed comic, that doesn't make any sense. How do I let people know how to get their own copy? There's not even a friggin' email address in here! There's nothing! No postal address, no email address, no URL... even that Art Zine I received the other day had a Tumblr address. Well, maybe you're supposed to Google it. But that's bullshit! If you make a printed work, put a goddamn physical address in there so people who live in the hard copy world and not the fucking e-cloud can enjoy your creation, too. Cuuuntz!!

[Thanks to Shaun Craike for sending me this!]

Strenuous Stilts Art Zine issue one

16 pages, 5.5" x 8", by David Sait, 43 Grange Drive, Brampton, ON, L6X 2H1, CANADA + strenuousstilts.tumblr.com

It's always a real pleasure to receive something unexpected in the mail. Like this Canadian art zine! Every page is printed in full glorious colour. What a treat for these eyeballs! And yours, if you go ahead and write to David. Trade your own art zine with him. I'm sure he'll be up for it. There's collage art in here, along with line drawings that seem to be coloured using a computer application. They are very nice, especially the centrefold of the icy river scene with forest and mountains and twilight horizon. At work today I went across the road and stood in the park, lit a cigarette and looked at this. I looked and looked, and really was drawn into it all. It took me far from my workday.

22 pages, 11" x 8.5", $2.00/Trade/Stamps/Letter >>> Doug Harrison, PO Box 5291, Richmond VA 23220, USA

"Letters, reviews, editorials, real mailing addresses, typographical refinements, art & illustrations, esoteric notions" it says in a box next to the title on the cover. We're in the Zine Zone of No Computers here - a world also populated by Fred Woodworth's The Match!; Anthony Walent's Communicating Vessels; and Jason Rodgers's Media Junky. The format, size, and level of 'slickness' of these zines may differ, but one thing they all share is a passionate opposition to modern technology, especially the internet. These guys may actually even use the internet sometimes, but it sure doesn't take centre stage in their life. To put it another way, don't hold your breath for them to switch to a blog format; or a downloadable PDF.

The Zine Explorer's Notebook has come a long way since I last reviewed it [tZEN #3] - doubling in size, for one thing. The letter column is also a treat, and one letter in here especially - the one from a prisoner who admits to beating an 'alleged' pedophile and leaving him for dead, and being proud of it. In his response, Doug objects to this guy's self-righteous braggadocio.

Another fascinating letter is from Al Fry, who seems to be some kind of militant gardener, with his vigorous writings on weeds, Monsanto, and fluoridated water ["rat poison"].

I really appreciated the zine reviews too. Every zine really should contain reviews of other zines. You've probably heard that before, but for those who make a zine and don't include zine reviews in their zine, they need to hear it a few more times, at least until they wake the fuck up and start putting zine reviews in their own zine. Wake up! Grab a brush and put on a little make-up!

Xerography Debt #38 [January 2016]

68 pages, 8.5" x 5.5", $4.00, Davida Gypsy Breier, PO Box 347, Glen Arm MD 21057, USA + davida [at] leekinginc [dot] com + www.leekinginc.com

In her introduction, Davida gives us a history of her PO Boxes, from her first at a small town post office in northern Maryland [where she received one of her all-time favourite pieces of correspondence - a paper cut-out inserted in a plastic bottle, mailed with a few stamps on it], through the problematic Baltimore City period [PO Box 21212], up to present day in Glen Arm, Maryland. This post office was tiny - it was love at first sight. Second visit they even recognised her before she said anything! A stark comparison with the former 21212, where even after ten years she was still asked to show ID. ... A terrific Introduction for us PO box-renting die-hards, then it's on with the rest of the show...

This issue welcomes new reviewer David LaBounty [The Vellum Underground and The First Line.] Welcome aboard! We look forward to your mandatory Watch the Closing Doors/Brooklyn! reviews!

Another lineup change this issue - William P. Tandy is warming the bench, however I note that last issue he only contributed one review, so perhaps he simply needs to re-charge the ol' batteries.

Yet another noteworthy development in #38 - in her column 'Where Are They Now?', a snowed-in Davida found herself wondering what happened to people she used to trade zines with. One of thos was TR Miller, a '90s-era cartoonist with an almost too-weir-to-be-true innocent, naive, hopeful style of single panel cartoons. Yet nobody seemed to know anything about this person. But one zinester did manage to interview TR Miller, only for it to come out as mocking and disrespectful. After that, Miller vanished. Davida decided to see if she could make contact with the elusive one! And she did! [Don't for a split second think I'm gonna spoil the ending to this story here! Buy your own copy! You can't Google it! Haw!]

There are more terrific columns here too! Gianni Simone interviews Cool Japan Guide author Abby Denson; Jeff Somers explains why he stopped publishing his zine; Joe Biel writes about living and publishing with Asperger's [sort of...half of it is about the twenty-year History of Microscosm he has been writing]; Josh Medsker interviews Mike Diana; and Ken Bausert reveals how he recycles zines he no longer wants. I know a little about that too! It ain't easy! [You can bet I was taking notes throughout Ken's column!]

Then follows over 120 reviews! I've already circled the ones I'm gonna send away for!

One final thing I'm going to comment on, at the risk of seeming like a big meanie... DJ Frederick in one of his reviews criticises the overuse of the word "awesome". Well, one of XD's reviewers in this very issue would appear to be guilty of a similar crime! Carlos Palacios seems to be obsessed with 'the perfect fit'! Here are examples from 3 of his 6 reviews: review of Philistines Vol 1 - "...nice cut and past work that fits perfect with the old school vibe..."; review of Phantom Billstickers Cafe Reader Vol 5 - "...nice photo work that fits perfectly with the words."; review of Mad House Jump - "...a very old-school vibe going on and that just fits perfect with the style of music..." I was on the bus reading all this and thought it was funny enough that I grabbed my pencil out of my bag and circled and underlined it all. That's why I had to mention it! I'm not a big meanie after all! It's just that I'm on the Autism Spectrum!

P.S. Comment from Davida: "Carlos speaks and writes at least three languages and English is not his native tongue. He gets props from me, as does Gianni, for his language skills."

Reply from me:  "Davida, understood. It's not the same thing as overusing the word "awesome". ... I can only speak/write/read one language! Props to Carlos and Gianni from me too!"

Reviews? Back Soon!

I know my usual comics and zine-reviewing activities have slowed to a standstill lately, mainly due to our [David Puckeridge and myself] 2015 Diary Comix Challenge, and even though I'm a bit behind even with that, I'll be getting back to the reviews sometime in January 2016.

There might even be a new issue of Blackguard!

Happy New Year!

Making Jamie

[Note: I couldn't do this one, I started writing mean things in the margins, then realised this could end up just coming across bitter and twisted. Maybe it's just me? I mean look, I haven't had kids and certainly don't plan to, but my d-comix pal David Puckeridge actually HAS been through that nightmare... i mean, wonderful, joyous magical part of life! ... so I passed this one to him. So, here's our Special Guest Review! Thanks David! *Phew!*]


"Making Jamie" is a diary comic about having a baby.  Artist and teacher Kyle Bravo documents the journey daily over six months, climaxing in the inevitable birth and all the challenges that come with the momentous event.
Kyle's loose drawing style is appealing, and there's a lot to relate to in the story if you've gone through the same thing yourself.  Everyone else should stay away, unless you WANT to hear about lots of "poop" and pee and amniotic fluid.
Even the breeders among us might be turned off by Kyle's cutesy style ('cute' is a word he uses a lot.)  Still, it's interesting to see the babymaking process from another perspective, whether you warm to Kyle or not.



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