Review: Zine-O-Matic, April 2017


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

April’s bounty of weirdness arrived and boy was it a good one. This envelope again contained three zines: ‘Kackle Issue 3d: Skullwater’, ‘Soliloquy’, and ‘Guile Guild Press #1’. There were also other little extras and a mini zine called ‘Why are you dumping me?’.


I quite enjoyed Kackle’s 3rd issue ‘Skullwater’ by Bruce Wilson. A short story that comes with 3D glasses? Yes please! I was initially doubtful about this one, as it’s a horror story about reanimated corpses. Horror and I do not get along, but this is the year of trying new genres so I gave it the old college try. It turns out that ‘Skullwater’ isn’t that scary. It’s definitely creepy, and everyone dies, but the story isn’t long enough to get emotionally attached to anyone. The plot follows a young boy who brings his elderly mother back to life, and accidentally reanimates his father, who died months previously, in the process. His father ultimately murders everyone in the house, including the boy, and then lies down with his reanimated wife. Months later two hunters stumble into the cabin and the two corpses beg for help to ‘fornicate’. I enjoyed the read, but I feel that veteran horror fans wouldn’t appreciate it much. ‘Skullwater’ doesn’t break any new ground, and sticks to a pretty traditional plot. The writing was well structured, and I found the final scene funny, but it lacked the tension expected of a horror. Instead Bruce Wilson used a very deadpan tone, which brought an element of comedy that I appreciated. The 3d illustrations had novelty, but I didn’t find that they brought any extra personality to the story.

476‘Soliloquy’ is really cool. The title on the front cover is embossed in Braille, with the translation typed on the inside flap. The zine contains guides to learning and using the following forms of communication: Tap Code, Morse Code, Braille, US Sign Language, and Binary Code. It’s a really cool concept, and I’m planning to put a few days aside to at least learn Tap and Morse Codes and Braille. The tutorial on US Sign Language doesn’t help me much, as Australia has its own system (is dialect an appropriate word in this context?). This has definitely inspired me to seek out some lessons in Australian Sign Language on the internet. Soliloquy was clearly a well thought out and executed zine that provides information about the various forms of communication that it then teaches. I’m really pleased with this one.

480‘Guile Guild Press #1’ is yet another art book, made up of various contributions instead of one or two artists’ work. There’s plenty of variety, but the quality between contributions varied widely. One particular comic ‘Proletarian Comix’ was drawn very heavily with limited space, and as such it was hard to read the captions or even differentiate arms from legs. A lot of the art has underlying political or social commentary, which is cool for a while but does tend to drag your mood down when every art work tells you that we’re selfish and doomed. You definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to peruse it, or you’ll just end up angry and more depressed than when you first opened the covers.

478‘Why are you dumping me?’ was good for a quick laugh, but it’s funnier when you can’t relate at all. Sandra’s real-life dumping scenarios will hit too close to home when you have a few tragic stories of your own to bring to the table. I reread this following an awkward attempt at wooing and I found that it wasn’t nearly as funny as when I was innocent and free. Or maybe the wound is still too raw. Either way, Sandra has a real skill with drawing expressions in simple cartoons, and the accompanying illustrations made the captions even funnier. She has a zine available on her Etsy store ‘BogusPress’, and I just might make the purchase and see if the rest of her work is as good.

464Out of all the extras, my favourite is a post card with art by Joe Elias Tsambiras. It’s so pretty, and I love the contrasting shades and textures. Is it weird to frame it – because I want to. There was a sticker of a dismembered arm with a mouth that reminds me of a band shirt from the 80s, and a card illustration of two giant lizards fighting. I do not know what to do with that. I sense a spontaneous gift to a stranger on a train in my future.

Overall, I got a decent haul of zines and a pleasant afternoon whiled away reading them. There was a good mix of thought provoking and hilarious. I have no regrets, and I’m definitely gonna be an oddball and frame that post card.


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