BY PJ CARMICHAEL
Jeremy Schmidt, a kind zinester from Los Angeles, sent me two zines from across the country for me to review, and I have to say, I truly loved both of them. Jeremy told me about the [blank]zine project’s goal from the beginning: to create “one themed issue for each letter of the alphabet.” The first two that have been made are S/Zine and Vzine, which deal with swimming and Valentine’s Day, respectively. The editors of the project go by the aliases “CourCore,” “Anna Antibiotic,” and “Manifest Destiny’s Child,” adding a sense of comical anonymity to the zines.
To begin, I want to point out the fact that the swimming-themed issue is printed entirely on blue paper, giving the entire publication a very “cool” theme. Some comical prose at the beginning of the zine lets the readers know (with heavy alliteration) that this “s-themed” zine focuses on swimming. A mock epitaph lets readers know about the late “Bob Hoskins,” who is now a “merman in heaven.”
Following this is an aesthetically pleasing collage featuring images and phrases regarding swimming, safety, and fun in the water. Contained in the zine is more prose, a top 10 list of people the editors would invite to a pool party (at Cher’s house), a top 10 list of swim team names, various additional collages, a brief film review, and a discussion on “the Swimmers vs. the ‘Creatives.’” Towards the end of the zine, there is a humorous question-and-answer session revolving around swimming preferences.
Many of the prose pieces and collages do not tie together directly, but rather conceptually. The zine never takes itself seriously, and campy pictures of lifeguards and flotation device advertisements are especially effective at engaging the reader and leaving him or her amused. Top 10 lists and brief pieces of prose keep the reader progressing through all 16 pages of the zine. I am a huge fan of S/Zine, and I look forward to reading future issues from the [blank]zine project.
As part of the [blank]zine project, Vzine is focused on the letter “V” and incorporates a Valentine’s Day theme to all of its content. The zine itself is printed on pink paper, which gives it a sense of life and vibrancy. A brief introduction lets the readers know that this is indeed a “Valentine’s zine” and is followed by humorous caricatures of goths at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a break-up poem.
There is a list of “Top 10 Bunny Names” followed by a collage focused on googly eyes. Strange collages involving plates of LA, tiny hippos, and how to get a Valentine’s Day date cover the next few pages. The editors of the zine then go on to list a few questions that they all answer. These questions include
· What was your first bitter thought?
· I’m walking around your heart. What do I see?
· Top 3 dealbreakers?
After this, the zine continues its fascinatingly bizarre rampage, with a picture of a bunny juxtaposed next to a comic entitled “A Carrot Meets a Pomegranate (Part One).” There is a list of chapter titles from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, along with another list of relationship and dating questions with witty answers.
A handwritten note describes the scenario of a drunken stranger who arrives at the author’s apartment and attempts to fight the author’s friends. The author of the note has no choice but to call the police, but the note (which is written to the stranger) is amusingly apologetic, asking the stranger to call the writer to “discuss aforementioned hilarious events.” At the conclusion of the zine is information about the zine’s Internet presence and handwritten notes about the zines layout and content, presumably from the editors themselves.
Overall, the zine is effectively absurd and surreal, combining various collages with prose, stock photos, and a comic to create a fun, lighthearted reading experience. I definitely recommend getting a copy of either S/Zine or Vzine via blankzine.tumblr.com.
Photos courtesy of blankzine.tumblr.com