Merry Zinesgiving to All and to All a Zinesgiving

Hello y’all! It’s been a long, long week and an even longer weekend, and unfortunately this means little time for OTGW reviews. Throw in the fact that I’ll be on a jet plane next Friday through Monday and it’ll actually be two weeks without ’em. Don’t worry though, I’ll still try to keep up posting here and there on this and that.

Speaking of thems and those: check out these!

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I’ve been building up a repository of quality zines and, with any luck, will have enough time in my life to sing most of their praises into the vast internet abyss. The way my life is currently going, the pace for this eternal song will likely be one batch of zines per month. cAll that ado aside, it’s about time I introduce y’all to a little feller called Za: The Pizza Zine.

As a product of America’s Northeast coast, I was born and bred to eschew humility regarding my taste in pizza. Growing up with New York pizza for 18 years of your life doesn’t quite engender arrogance, but it generates something dang close and, in my mind, merited–five years living beyond the walls of pizztopia, I’ve sampled very few pizzas that can compete with NY’s finest. Still, as Nicki Yowell’s zine Za II makes clear, there’s much more to enjoying the pizza experience than “objective” quality alone.

Za II thumbs its stuffed-crust nose to stuffy pizza snobs with an egalitarian, contextual appreciation of everything cheesy, saucy, and gooey. In the segment “Slice  & Drink,” Yowell writes about her favorite slices from Chicago deep dish to Papa John’s, from unadorned New York staples to overloaded vegan medleys from Portland, OR. She bares a knack for being a bit of a cocktail craftsman as well, pairing each slice with odd, imaginative drink combos such as the “Scurvy Brass Monkey,” a classic 40-oz of malt liquor with an Emergen-C packet stirred in.

  • What’s the Mouth Feel?: Za II is a love letter to pizza in the vein of an OK Cupid message, especially when you factor in the massive section measuring the sex appeal of various pizza-box-chef-drawings. My only regret re:Za is that it doesn’t actually come with pizza. I’d like to pay a pizza company to start carrying Za issues in their boxes.

For something less savory and a little, lot, very much a lot more saccharine sweet, how about a binge of every single feature-length Disney animated film from 1937 to 2011? Butch Nor Femme #4/Curioddity #2  finds its co-authors Lynne and Dalice enduring such an unholy marathon, and reading through this split issue you get the idea that one is really enjoying the binge more than the other. Both halves feature 160-character takes on each movie in the Disney catalog, consumed in chronological order, and this concise style makes this colossal undertaking ultimately digestible.

Lynne in particular has a knack for wrapping punishing sentiment in very few words; their economy of words not only turns their dismissive entries into deadpan comedy gold, but also ensures that each positive entry is accompanied with a palpable sigh of relief. Their critical voice contrasts heavily with Dalice’s self-described “unfaltering obsession with all things Disney;” while Dalice is just as ready to voice their displeasure for certain films (one highlight: referring to Lady and the Tramp as “Disney’s tour of ethnic stereotypes… with dogs“), the overall mood of her Curioddity half is lighter. The thick bubble letters and blown-up cartoon stills definitely feed into that positive vibe.

  • Should I try this at home?: Hell no. After reading this zine, I would recommend hitting only a fifth, at most, of all the Disney classics, and most of them would be from the ’90s and on. Old-school animation being steeped with racism and all sorts of other fuckery is hardly news, but BnF/Curioddity hammers that fact home when we’re confronted with the raw stats of it all (and hilariously dry 160-character rebuttals).

The last booklet in this month’s batch may be the smallest, but it’s got the grandest message. Greenwashing, by Anya Klepacki, tackles the killing of our Earth, that big blue ball of dirt that all of us just can’t help but slowly kill every day. Half art zine, half environmental jeremiad, Greenwashing indicts the reader with a cramped collage of various wastes, pollutants, and mutants. Inside, Klepacki dissects that image into pieces, not quite making the mess manageable, but making each piece of it visible: outdated electronics, empty water bottles, a Happy Meal, cardboard boxes; all of this detritus that we’ve thrown away comes back in our face, while rhetorical questions frame the way we discuss climate change. “What is our actual timeline?” the zine asks, “How do we un-trench our entrenchment?”

  • Well, can we?: Greenwashing argues that addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift. We can only see the extent of the damage in the cover photo by zooming in on its individual cells; likewise, the zine lays down the basics for finding solutions, or a “revolution,” without providing any. It’s a conversation starter, a compelling artistic statement and, given its miniature size, likely did not waste too much paper to produce. Kudos, Klepacki.

(Full disclosures: in order of appearance in this blog post, I know the authors of these zines in the following capacity: conducted a yet-unpublished interview with her, don’t know them at all, close college friend. The more you know!)