Seven more zines

Write Your Own Words #6

Zines on paper are unlike anything else in the world. They're created and sold outside of mainstream publishing and marketing, so zines are hard to find, but most are worth the trouble. Send for a zine that sounds interesting, and you're (probably) going to be happy you did.

Or maybe create one yourself!

"Walk into virtually any corporate-owned bookstore in America, and you won't find anything on any shelf that wasn't designed, mass-produced, ordered, delivered, and stocked primarily for the purpose of making a profit. At its best, the underground press is the opposite of that. It's not about how much money can be squeezed out of publishing. It's about how much of the writer/artist's soul he or she can squeeze onto the page."  
—Zine World

Click any image to see a page from the zine.


Broken Pencil #92 — “The magazine of zine culture and the independent arts.” This is a mega-zine I subscribed to, decades ago. I’m delighted to see that Broken Pencil is still publishing, still obsessed with DIY literature and art, and still supportive of the indy community. Almost as soon as I started turning the pages I was swallowed alive, lost for hours.

It’s printed in full-color throughout but not slick, either physically or philosophically. BP takes a broad view of its mandate, so not every article is specifically pertinent to do-it-yourself culture, but if it's not it's DIY-adjacent. This is a magazine that's about people like you, not celebrities and millionaires and rat bastards. Halfway through reading it, I subscribed again.

There’s lots more because this baby is BIG, but here are a few highlights:

a photo-essay on the “natural art” that grows fuzzy in a Petri dish

a remembrance of old UFO zines

crowdsourced help fighting illegal rent increases

detailed instructions on doing a cross-flexagon — a unique and bizarre page folding.

A zinester did a survey on what zine readers DON’T want to see in a zine, and the number one response is: Poetry! Of course!

Donna Kossy long-ago published a zine I remember called False Positive, wherein one of the most popular features was a column called “Kooks,” profiling wackadoodles who believed wacky things. Here Donna laments that the kooks of that era would be just ordinary folks today, because half of America is kooks. 

Lots of zine and comic reviews, and they’re long and thoughtful, better than this page of mine. I ordered a bunch of zines that look/sound interesting, and my fingers are crossed until they get here.

• 68 full-size pages, stapled, 7% ads, prose & comics & color illustrations, three hours & 15 minutes, $7.87 from Broken Pencil


Dear You — This is one sheet of paper, handwritten on both sides. It looks like a letter, addressed to “Dear You,” and it's signed by Luke. It’s photocopied cleanly, and you could easily believe you’re reading a handwritten letter. The only clue that this is a zine, not a letter, is that I don't know anyone named Luke.

So what’s new with Luke? He’s having a craving for pizza, stops at a pizzeria, but before even placing his order he’s distracted by a pinball machine, and starts playing, and then things get strange. 

This is not what I expect in zines, and that’s why I love zines. I want what I'm not expecting! What Luke has written, albeit a bit sloppy with the penmanship, is a cool short story that’s not a waste of time reading, presented in a creative way. I enjoyed it and wish I could recommend it.

Here’s where I flash my ‘crotchety zine grandpa’ credentials, though. “Back in my day, sonny,” the only way anyone could get your zine was if you gave it to them, or mailed it to them, so almost all zines included an address where people could send for a copy. These days, everyone’s presumed to be connected on the internet, so a zine’s address has become optional.

There’s no contact info in the zine. It came in an envelope without a return address. I’ve Googled about as much as I’m willing to Google, and it might be related to this page on livejournal.com, hawking a 94-page collection of Dear You zines, published in 2013. But maybe not. The two-page Dear You zine I’m looking at tells a story set in Australia, and it’s from Luke. The 94-page Dear You zine I've found online is from Singapore, by someone named Janell.

So … here’s quite a good, creative zine, but I have no idea how you can get a copy.

• 2 full-size pages, no ads, handwritten prose, 5 minutes, no contact information 


The East Village Inky #64 — This is another zine that’s been around time time began. It’s neatly handwritten and pleasantly illustrated text, telling detailed & enchanting stories from Ayun’s life.

The theme of this issue is mail, and she remembers what came in the mail when she was a kid, being penpals with a girl in japan, being the mail lady at summer camp, her favorite fictional mail carriers, making mail art in the Global Mail era, and a whole heck of a lot more.

I’ve always liked Inky, but either the zine has improved or I’ve grown into it — I enjoyed the bejeebers out of this. The difference, I suspect, is that way back when, I'd read ten or twenty zines in a day, and many were crapola, so my senses probably got dulled. Nowadays, just reading a few zines I order and whatever wild cards come to the PO BOX, I can savor them more, and this one especially is better when savored.

• 40 smallish pages, stapled, no ads, handwritten prose with b/w illustrations, an hour & 15 minutes, $3 cash/stamps from Ayun Halliday, 1270 5th Ave #7D, NYC NY 10029.


Green Ghost, by Ellen Chao — A short info comic on the care and watering of indoor plants. The drawing shows talent, but the story is barely budding. 

• 8 ¼-size pages, stapled, no ads, b/w comics on your choice of green or white paper, 2 minutes, $2 from Green Ghost zine 


I Am Trash: A zine about self-hate — Wow. That was my one-word reaction, spoken aloud, as I read this tiny micro-zine where the author explains plainly how and why they hate themselves.

It’s like someone’s typed up my own inner dialogue from a dark day, and I especially like the powerful punch at the end — Simo is emphatically not looking for friendship, words of encouragement, or anything but the chance to be alone while they figure things out.

“Maybe you feel like this as well, sometimes?” Yes, oh yes. 

• 8 ¼-size pages, folded, no ads, prose over b/w collage art, 5 minutes, $3.08 from SimoTier’s Etsy shop, but a note says the shop is on hiatus until mid-September.


I Hate Fun — Each page is black-and-white imagery with words pasted over. That's a basic zine formula since the invention of zines, but Norma does it really well. The images and words aren't random; there's a point to every page. I kinda love this zine, and hope to see more from the creator.

• 20 half-size pages, stapled, no ads, b/w collage, 15 minutes, $2.50 from Norma’s Etsy page


The Policymaker — The moment I pulled this zine from its envelope, I knew it was from someone painfully young (under 40), because oh my god the text is tiny. Putting my reading glasses on, holding the paper really close to my head, I can tell you it’s an engrossing snippet from a novel under construction, about bloody slamdancing at a punk show at the local VFW.  

That’s side one, but like an old-fashioned 45 rpm record, there’s a flipside. Turn the same piece of paper over, and it's Cape Cod Policymaker #6, which is filled with friendly, chatty reports on life in New Hampshire. The unnamed author is renovating a house, following big league and minor league baseball, and interacting with other zine-writers and -publishers. Friendly, nice.

• 4 full-size pages (total), folded, no ads, all prose, 20 minutes, $1 cash or stamps from PO Box 530, Yarmouth Port MA 02675.


I'll review any zine anyone sends. It might take a while, though — don't rush me, and please send only one zine, not your all-time library.

PO BOX 7413

Want to test-drive some zines? Mail me a large self-addressed envelope (magazine-size) with $4 postage affixed, and I'll send 9½ ounces of zines from the pile that I've read (that's the maximum weight USPS will allow me to mail without standing in line). No, you can't specify which zines, and remember, your copy was my copy so it might have my scribbles or coffee stains.


Write your own words

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  1. I'm very much looking forward to reading The Match! again. I sent him a twenty, asking for however many recent issues that will cover. It was a fantastic magazine.

    1. Mine came today. Yippity bippity!

    2. At a glance, how does it compare, physically, the the issues we're used to from the 90s - They were 60-100 pages, full of info, beautiful covers.

    3. The latest issue, Summer 2021, is 52 pages, color cover, beautifully printed, maybe a little thinner than I'd remembered, but amazingly dense. It's gonna take me a week to read it.


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