Friday, July 3, 2015

Stratu's Diary Comix - 2015 (monthly)

Stratu's Diary Comix
8 pages, full size
$3.50 per issue in Australia
$5.00 per issue World Wide
accepts trades

Stuart Stratu is one of our reviewers, and the man behind the Blackguard comix series. Every day in 2015, Stratu is chronicling his life with a three frame comic.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these. Though we've known each other peripherally through zines and comics for some time now, I really knew very little about him. I feel like I know him much better now, and that's a good thing because he is interesting and likable.

Beer is a steady theme throughout. His father has Altheimer's and Stu visits him frequently and takes him places, taking it in stride and keeping a sense of humor. He obsesses over job opertunities and gets letters from prisoners. I thought it was funny when someone had an "American" themed party where they had hot dogs and hamburgers.

Totally worth it.

PO Box 35
Marrickville NSW 2204

Review by Jack Cheiky

Origami Comic

Origami Comic. A J Poyiadgi. 2013. 
Colour printed A5 sheet. £3.

Another unique form and interactive storytelling device. Designed to be cut and folded to form a 7cm square. Once folded the reader moves the flaps to alter the image segments and with it the fate of the two protagonists. Melancholy origami. 

A J Poyiadgi is interested in other forms of alternative storytelling - he's made other unique comics in unusual formats that I hope to review in future posts. 

For more about the artist, or to buy your own Origami Comic visit:

Review by Nathan Penlington

(This post was originally part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nightclub Yes/Nightclub No

Nightclub Yes/Nightclub No
Jeremy Dixon, 2013, Hazard Press. 
A7. 2, or rather ‘4’, pages. £4.

A cleverly constructed magic-wallet, double-spined, one-poem book…

…you decide which side to open, and which version of the text you want to read.

This kind of binding was, in my childhood, used in what was called a Milkman’s Wallet. Now, that makes me sound like a child of the 70s.

To buy a copy, or check out more work by Hazard Press, visit:

Review by Nathan Penlington

(This post was originally part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Exquisite Corpse 1

Exquisite Corpse Vol 1. 2014. 
Marie Callum, Jessica Halmshaw, Heeseon Kim, Hamish Steele, Melissa Trender, James Turzynki. 
A5, 24 colour pages. £3.

The infamous surrealist game gets a graphic novel make over in this collaborative comic project. The rules: ‘No comic page is written by a single artist. We each have 20 minutes to complete as much of the story as we like, and after our time is up we pass the narrative to our right’.

Does it work? Well in a traditional narrative sense, not generally, no. But the contrasting styles of art, and the dramatic shifts in the stories keeps the work fresh.

You can buy this zine, and find more work by the collaborators here:

Review by Nathan Penlington

(This post was originally part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bad Therapy/Rad Therapy

Bad Therapy / Rad Therapy. 2014 Rudy Loewe. A6 zine, folded from double sided A3 sheet. £3. 

A clever use of a standard zine fold (a central slit allows you to fold a piece of paper into a booklet without staples or other binding). The double sided nature allows the reader to transform the experience of bad therapy into rad therapy…

 …by turning the zine inside out, mirroring how you have to reframe life, and sometimes try over to find the perfect therapist to help you through your circumstances. Well drawn and nicely produced.

(This post was originally part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This is Bullshit.

This is Bullshit.
18 pages, full size

Minimalist. Primitive. Bizarre.

I'll let you decide if that's good or bad.

Review by Jack Cheiky


Underdog - Number Five. 1964. Edited by Brian Patten. A5 booklet, 22 printed pages, cardboard cover.  

Underdog - 8. 1966. Edited by Brian Patten. A5 booklet, 22 printed pages, cardboard cover. 

In 1965 poet Allen Ginsberg, figurehead of the American Beat scene, declared Liverpool to be “at the present moment, the centre of consciousness of the human universe”. 

Ginsberg was right. 60s Liverpool wasn’t all about The Beatles, or Mersey Beat bands, but also poets. Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri - known collectively as The Liverpool Poets - first came to the attention of a wider public in 1967 with the publication of Penguin Modern Poets 10: The Mersey Sound - which to date has sold over 500,000 copies, a rare feat for a poetry anthology. 

Long before that they were producing live events, readings and art happenings in the pubs and clubs of the city. In 1962 Brian Patten, then just only 16, started to capture the essence of these events in his zine Underdog
Underdog is a record of its time - a poetry rooted in place, and pop - and of a scene. They contain early versions of poems that later McGough, Patten and Henri would become famous for; work by British beat troubadours Pete Brown and Spike Hawkings; the incomparable Adrian Mitchell (who stole the show at the infamous 1965 poetry incarnation at the Albert Hall);  and reaching out to the USA -  later issues also include Robert Creeley and granddaddy beat Allen Ginsberg.  

The lesson is you never know what will become of anyone who makes a zine, or whose work it captures. Also, if you ask for submissions in the right way, you never know who might say yes.

Review by Nathan Penlington

(This post was originally part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

Monday, June 22, 2015

...Rising #64 (June 2015)

…Rising. Edited by Tim Wells. A5, photocopied, coloured cardboard cover up to Issue 27, paper covers to present. Page length varies, average 28 pages. Free. 

Rising was started back in 1994 by poet, performer and raconteur Tim Wells because, in his words, “there wasn’t enough of the kind of poetry I liked in print. Back then it was a paper, scissors and glue endeavour. It wasn’t until issue 21 that I got a computer, and even later ‘til I learned how to use it badly”.  

The poetry of Rising is a fighting mix of bawdy, literary, and culturally diverse inspiration which is reflected in its visual elements which are taken from Kung-fu films, westerns, cute girls holding books, northern soul singers, Planet of the Apes, 60′s films stars, Hemingway, late night pub lock-ins, Elvis, war films, and Joan Collins. To confuse the librarians every issue is produced in the same format, but takes a new title i.e. Bad Moon Rising, Wang Dang Rising, Whole Lotta Rising. 

I met Tim in 1995, two weeks after I first moved to London. It was only my second outing to a poetry event (the first was a terrible visit to a writer’s group whose members were perturbed by the fact the room they met in was above a topless bar - but that’s a story for another post), and to a teenager new to London, the shouting, banging, raucous poetry of The Hard Edge Club was an embracing hammer to the head. It was here Tim first thrust a copy of Rising into my hands, an event that has been replicated since then with unerring regularity (Maybe that is a topic for further study, how makers of anything, not just zines, distribute their own work - from the ‘stand back and let it distribute itself’ approach all the way to aggressive insistence. Tim’s is a firm take it or leave it). 

The latest issue, number 64, is a Ranting poetry special. Tim is currently researching the history and influence of 80′s Ranting poetry, and how that history is reflected and captured by its zines, badges, and other ephemera. There is a touring exhibition of ranting zines, and a programme of accompanying events, this latest issue of Rising reprints some of the early to mid -eighties work of Seething Wells, Michael Smith, Phill Jupitus (when he was Porky the Poet), and Joolz to name only a handful of the contributors. 

Rising is now London’s longest running poetry zine - by that I mean a zine that has stayed true to its roots and not attempted to ‘upgrade’ to magazine status. Its contents are also a history of the London poetry scene of the last twenty years, a Who’s Who of poets and performers that have helped build the vibrant and healthy scene it is today. Rising’s real strength though is not just longevity but an insistence on quality work largely ignored by other publications. 

There is one way to find out what I mean - if you see Tim at an event ask him for a copy, tell him I sent you. 

Click here for the Stand Up & Spit site or tweet Tim here to haggle for a copy of Rising. 

Review by Nathan Penlington

(A version of this post originally appeared as part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Manifesto #2

Manifesto #2
28 pages, mini
$2 US

The bulk of this little zine is by Ed Tillman, but there are about a dozen other contributors of both text and images. The broad theme seems to be about the arts in general, with a bit of emphasis on film. I wouldn't call it a rant zine, but some parts are opinionated. Good artwork. An attempt at humor, (I think.)

Bits about photographer Richard C. Miller, The painter Dan Smith, and the Eastman Kodak company.

It is very neat. Meticulously credits everyone right down to the printer.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hiroshima Yeah! #123 [May 2015]


6 pages, 11.5" x 8.5", by Mark Ritchie & Gary Simmons >>> donbirnam [at] ... $1.00 or friendly email should [might? may?] get you a copy

Gary's life-in-prison series is about to wind up - this issue's instalment we find Gary with a mere seven days to get through until he's let out of the cage like a little bird, but it's not gonna be easy when there's a retarded douchebag calling him "wolfman" through the door of his cell. What's he gonna do? Smash the bloke? the twat deserves no less, no doubt about it, but smashing some prick who deserves it was what landed him in gaol in the first place. ... Mark's reviews are always a pleasure to read, and the one of The Eagles 'The Very Best Of' album was funny because the person who sent it to Mark probably thought he would - and hoped he would - do a "hatchet job" on it. However the plan backfired since Mark has always had a soft spot for the band. Which fact shortly leads to further admissions of "guilty pleasures". For example: "Oasis (but Liam is still a twat)" and 'Come Undone' by Robbie Williams, "(also a twat)". ... Among the reviews, Mark gave my diary comix the thumbs up! [Phew!] ... The other great piece in this issue is Simon Morris's 'Guide to Sex, Love and Relationships Part 2'.

Review by Stratru

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Miz Issue #1

Miz Issue #1

This is a mental health zine about living with bad depression and anxiety. The first half is about struggling and shows a progression through time. Miz tries different medications and gives updates, talks about her relationship with her husband, talks about trying to help herself.

The second half is more theoretical and talks about oppression. Miz quotes scholarly texts and talks about grad school.

I loved this zine, both halves. And I forgot to mention the expressive, beautiful, and strange drawings throughout. They add a lot. I wish I made zines more like this.

I would like to give you an example of the intelligence of this zine. I am upset about people talking shit about self-care. I've heard a lot of that lately, and I am in opposition.

But Miz's analysis made me see the other side more clearly. I would like to quote an important passage.

"but i also feel like the implication is that there is something wrong with me and with what i have been doing that is causing all my problems. as if my depression has just arisen from me not taking care of myself my whole life. i am missing something else though, a part of this puzzle of getting better, another piece of understanding that would let me connect with people over these issues or situate my experience within a broader social context. i hate feeling as though my problems are entirely my own doing and that it's my personal responsibility to transform myself into the right kind of person."

I find this passage brilliant and giving voice to something very important.

And the whole zine's like this.

Highly recommended for all fans of mental health zines and everyone who likes insight.

Review by Laura-Marie

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Not My Small Diary #18

Not My Small Diary #18
148 page, digest
$8.00 US / worldwide prices on order page

Delaine Derry Green has been putting out this ambitious  theme focused anthology of autobiographical comics since 1996. At issue number 18, you know she has to be doing something right. This is a literary quality publication, (no bar code number,) and no one could continue putting out a product like this for very long unless people were loving it and buying it.

 “Every issue of NMSD is like a Who’s Who of the comic/zine world. Worth every penny. NMSD never disappoints.” Xerography Debt

This issue is about pets. These are real peoples stories of real experiences with pets. Some are cute and charming , some are tragic. There's even a weird one bordering on psychedelic. The bulk of the stories are about cats and dogs, but others about a toad, chameleon, guinea pig, rats, cockatiel, cockatoo, koi, mice, Siamese fighting fish, tetra, goldfish, rabbits, and snakes.

This is one of those small press publications that you hope is around for many years to come.

Buy it. If not for yourself, for someone you love who loves pets.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lucida Console #10

Lucida Console #10
36 pages, digest

This is a great example of why I read zines.

Slater Wilcox starts off by saying he's turning over a new leaf and endeavoring to not be so negative and depressed. He then proceeds to tell us a bunch of negative and depressing shit. In his defense, what's in the zine was written before the opening editorial, so maybe now he really is in better shape mentally.

Negative and depressed or not, the writing itself is of a very high standard. It's easy to read and it draws you in despite the fact that he bends the language in all manner of bastardization. While Slater Wilcox is a pen name, it is unclear (and this is what I find delightful,) whether the colorful narrative is purely fiction or factually autobiographical. It would be equally brilliant in either case, and even when you realize for sure that this is at the very least exaggerated, you still cannot quite make up you mind about it.

Slater is 30ish, semi-vagrant, punk-vegan, and has a love hate relationship with intoxicants and cigarettes. The stories mostly center around the string of jobs he's had and the places he's drifted. The high point is the section where he describes his stint as a teacher's aid, and especially the portion working with special needs kids.

There is more than a hint of humor and glee in the bleak ranting, and Slater is quite likeable despite his antisocial posturing.

You can download a PDF for free @

or you can email him and beg for a print copy, but he is on the road with his band and you may never hear from him.

PS his band Caves is coming to the U.S. in June. They're touring with the Worriers from NYC. Both bands are on Tumblr and Facebook.

The Daily Compulsion #5

The Daily Compulsion #5 by Nathan Rice is comix mostly about alcohol and its effects.  It's also somewhat about relationship pain and AA.

I like the autobiographical-ness and the candor.  It's interesting to learn about Rice's life.  It's also sad.  There's some humor here, like with the Alcoholic Anarchists Anonymous poster, but it's mostly sad.

This zine gives me a sense of gratefulness that I don't have the types of problems the zine displays.  I think it would be perfect for other people who struggle with alcohol addiction to feel like they're not alone.

Rice handles these issues with skill, and I wish him all success in both the zine world and the larger world.

Review by Laura-Marie

Hiroshima Yeah! #118 [Dec 2014]

6 pages, 11.5" x 8.5", by Mark Ritchie & Gary Simmons >>> donbirnam [at] ... $1.00 or friendly email should [might? may?] get you a copy

My favourite line from this issue is from contributor Simon Morris's 'Five Depressing English Seaside Towns':

"[4] Saltburn-by-the-Sea - Best approached by train past the most startling ugly slagheaps the NE can offer, the wind from the North Sea is especially bracing in winter from the top of the cliff you'll want to throw yourself off."

Zine Stash #1

from Druid City Comic

Over the past month I’ve found myself in the possession of a scad of obscure zines and small issues of independent comic series.  Knowing I couldn’t devote an entire article to suggesting them to an audience, mostly because many of the zines are limited print and not available nationwide, I decided to review and suggest a bundle of them AT a time.  I’m thinking that I’ll stick to four for each installment of Zine Stash, but that will depend on how many zines I have at a time.  Considering that some of these won’t be available for print-on-demand or a delivery, I’ll send readers in the direction of the artists’ website or social media when I can, after the quick summary and review.

There by Hansel Moreno and Claire Connelly
Hansel Moreno wrote this short zine and Claire Connelly drew it.  Over the course of eight pages, a working stiff contemplates the claustrophobic fear he would experience if he ever went into space.  This external fear becomes internal once he realizes that he feels this same fear after he hasn’t left his desk or office for quite a long time.  The comic is printed in black and white, and as would be expected of a comic that has some panels set in space, there is a ton of black negative space.  The big two page spread features smaller panels off to the side that illustrate the worst of the protagonist’s fears.  For something that only consists of eight pages, a lot of ground is covered in the visuals.  

Hansel Moreno writes short stories.  His twitter handle is @hanselthelost
Claire Connelly’s illustration work can be found on her website.  Her twitter handle is @ckconnellydraws

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall by Mittie Paul
This limited print comic features a unique series of panel types, from long horizontal ones, to basic geometric shapes, to cracked glass facsimiles, to a cross hatched triangular conclusion.  The plot features a girl wondering what is wrong with her memory, because she can only recall when she looks at herself in the mirror. She can’t remember any time when she’s away from the mirror, but deduced that she must have some kind of life because her hair and clothes are always changing.  When she looks at the text on the book she’s holding, it’s orientation reveals what she really is.  Mirror, Mirror on the Wall is the best short read from this first Zine Stash, not so much because the twist is hard to see coming, but because the reveal uses a lot of creative logic to nail the ending. I’ve covered the creativity of the panels already, but the shading and cross hatching is also very impressive.

Mittie Paul has a webcomic called Timber.  Her twitter handle is @MittieArt.
You Suck: Volume 1 by Josh Lesnick

You Suck is an erotic webcomic and this first volume is a collection made for people to get interested in the content while at conventions.  The comic features Anna, a college student who has some troubles with getting her sexual desires met by her clueless boyfriend.  After coming on too strong while the two are at a theatre, the boyfriend leaves and Anna later finds him being screwed in the alley by a naked succubus who disappears into the night.  The succubus follows her around after she dumps her boyfriend and appears to want to make friends with her and help her along in getting what she needs out of a sexual relationship.  The succubus doesn’t prove to be the best role model, as consent isn’t exactly something she seems to hold in super high regard, although most of the guys whose bones she jumps seem fine with it after the fact.  Anna isn’t quite so keen with the succubus’ method once she captures Anna’s professor and dumps him on Anna’s bed.
The drawing style of You Suck is extremely loose and free.  Much like Jess Fink’s work on Chester 5000, this sort of inking style seems to work very well for the erotic comics genre.  Compared to more anatomically correct images in erotica, such as Melinda Gebbie’s still stunning and remarkable beautiful work on Lost Girls, this sort of style adds a lot of room for the imagination and a more impressionistic reading experience, which I give two thumbs up to.
You Suck can be found here. Josh Lesnick’s twitter is @superhappy.
The Box: Issue 1 by Peyton Freeman and Brett Williams

The Box is a story that focuses on the Grecian Olympians losing their power as the Ills gain power in the mortal world after Pandora opens that eponymous Box.  Right away, the visual style is at odds with the kind of grand story that the writer is trying to tell. The inking job isn’t done poorly, but the digital coloring and the backgrounds are far too simplistic to really communicate the bigger Grecian world that seems to be set up in the opening of the book.  The textures on walls in the back are done with stone textures from other sites presumably, and pillars are copy pasted too much to keep consistency with the sunlight in the scene.  Also, the story is too jumbled and all over the place, too much to give me a sense of who I should care about.  I didn’t even know Pandora was Pandora until the very end of the book, which may be my fault.  While I can’t recommend the series from my first impression, I will leave the creator’s information below.

Issues of The Box can be purchased online in PDF form through their website.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hand Job #7

Hand Job #7

Issue #7 of Hand Job heralds a new look for the literary zine. All previous issues have been of a cut 'n' paste, photocopied aesthetic - the traditional zine look, if you will. But for this issue Sophie Pitchord (one half of the team behind the zine) has flexed her creative design muscles and put together a really smart looking zine. It still maintains a gritty, no nonsense vibe and the content within the pages is up there with the best stuff they have published to date, but it feels like it is coming of age with this new look. I really don't know where they are going to go from here, but I am excited to be taken along for the ride.  

Review by Martin Appleby

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Deep Blue : Art and Magic

24 pages, 8.5" x 6", $6.00, by Rachel Ang and Ace Wagstaff Instagram: @acewagstaff

This is the other comic Rachel sent me [see review of its companion here.] Rachel's back and this time brought Ace Wagstaff along for the ride. There is no indication who did what and one of the four strips in here was not very good at all - in a really standout way - compared with the other three, and I found myself hoping that it wasn't by Rachel. Ha ha! Anyway, I emailed Rachel to ask her who did what, and was pleased to find out that Ace did that awful one. Phew!

Anyway, the first strip 'Deep Blue' by Ace Wagstaff is about a sentient laptop stuck on the moon and musing about its predicament, and life itself. It was pretty good, not bad. The main thing that stood out for me however was a technical issue - the contrast and brightness wasn't adjusted, so you could see the texta marks from colouring in the blacks. Although, I guess it could have been left that way on purpose, so readers could appreciate the artist's brush stroke patterns...

The second strip - Rachel's 'Dreams' - notes the lucky/unlucky reality of dreams being far more interesting and imaginative than the awake brain is capable of. And finally, the dreamer finds herself upon waking - "Sometimes I have to do a drawing to keep the dream alive ... But it never works."

The third 'strip' is the offender! To call it 'the ugly duckling' or 'runt of the litter' however would be cruel to ugly ducklings and runts of litters. All it is, this 'Minimal Reserve', is squiggles drawn from a distance then zoomed in closer and closer and back out again. It's like somebody smoked a bowl and drew and drew but forgot to re-examine their 'awesome drawing, dude!' the next day, sober, and just sent it in.

The fourth strip, 'Alien', is the highlight of the issue for me. An examination of human activities and behaviours from an alien's perspective. [The alien crash-landed but managed somehow to perfectly blend in and go unnoticed, but that's not the point of the strip, ha ha! ... Although now having noted that, I wouldn't mind reading more stories about this alien and its experiences on Earth...]

Wow and this one is six bucks too! But! [Butt?] Buy this one AND the other one [Rachel's Draw By Four] and you still couldn't buy a packet of bloody smokes in Sydney for that!
From Stratu @ Blackguard

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