Review: Zine-O-Matic, March 2017


Price: 13.99 USD + 9.99 USD shipping
What is it: A monthly subscription of zines, independent art, stickers, and paper goods.

It seems that the more I age, the more I resemble a crazed, literary badger lurking in its den and refusing to venture into the sun. A subscription for independently published articles, fiction, poetry, and art is therefore incredibly enticing. I don’t have to leave my house and hunt these things down for myself, allowing me to maintain my hip street cred without actually going to the street. Bliss.  Zine-o-matic offers a few subscription options, and I opted for the smallest (read: cheapest) option – 3 zines and a few little extra goodies. This month’s delivery had a nice variety of zines: ‘Our Best Shot: The True Story of an Illegal Supervised Injection Facility in the USA’, ‘Imaginary Homework’, and ‘KJC #3’.  The subscription came in a large envelope, and everything was packed well to prevent damage. The extras were slipped into the pages of the zines. While other people would have found pleasant surprises as they read, I shook the pages vigorously to uncover the bounty.

Anonymous gives it to us straight

My favourite zine would have to be ‘Our Best Shot’. With raw humour, cynicism, and a kind of seething and restrained fury, the anonymous comic follows the development of an unnamed and illegal Supervised Injection Facility in the USA. I love anything that’s both informative and hilarious, and the author’s dealings with the addicts she works with had me in stitches. There was a lot of medicine slipped in with this honey: I learned that the leading cause of death in the USA is drug overdose, how to recognise the signs, and how to treat it. She also explains how the facility she works for, while technically only a clean needle exchange, originally allowed participants to shoot up in the bathroom before moving on to become a (highly illegal) supervised injection facility. The data collected by her organisation, and others, shows that having access to clean needles and a safe place to get high prevents the spread of disease and discourages the habit of leaving dirty syringes in public places, as well as reducing the risk of overdose by having staff like herself on hand. She also highlights the stark reality that pretty much the only people who care about the welfare of addicts are other addicts. The comic was incredibly interesting, and while I don’t condone illegal drug use, I do believe that better systems and programs need to be in place to support addicts to go straight.

It’s better than algebra

‘Imaginary Homework’ by Theo Ellsworth was…interesting. I originally misunderstood the title to mean homework that doesn’t exist, as in an imaginary friend. It turns out that this zine is a collection of illustrations and activities designed to inspire and exercise your imagination. Some of the activities look fun. Others appear bat shit insane. It’s the perfect blend of surrealism and inspiration, and I’m minded to try a new “Homework Task” each day to get my imagination stirring. I may also end up as a lucid dreamer who sees elephants where tables are. Either way, it sounds exciting.


  I have no idea what is happening here

Despite my earlier crowing, I am not cool. I have no actual hip street cred. This was shown excruciatingly well when I opened the final zine. ‘KJC #3’ a collaboration between artisits DW and Kevin Uehlein, is a psychedelic wonder if indie art that made me feel like a worthless, uncool amoeba. I have no idea what was happening in any of the artworks, and I constantly felt like I was staring at something beyond the grasp of my puny, wretched understanding. There was a deeper meaning. I’m sure of it. But all I can say is that the colours were striking, the geometric patterns were cool, and I could make neither head nor tail of the comics.

There were a few extras included in the parcel. These were:
A booklet of ‘Tasteful Insect Nudes’ (funny)
A fake 10,000 yen note (odd)
A sticker, possibly inspired by Beatrix Potter, of kittens wearing dresses (cute)
A second sticker of a vintage lady crying over a couple kissing (went immediately on my laptop).

I’m pretty pleased by the collection I received this month, and I’ll probably maintain my subscription to see what other baffling and amazing zines will be revealed.


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