True to its title, Taryn reflects on what her life is like now at six years sober (the short answer is, pretty great). On each page she lists one small example of how sobriety has changed her life, and the zine is intended to be “straight up honest, no bullshit, just me talking about what it’s like…”. The zine packs a punch, too, with her witty and poignant one-liners sprinkled throughout. I’d give you an example but I don’t want to give anything away. You’ve got to read the zine!
Issue 8 of Taryn’s zine starts with her decision to write zines rather than writing more books, and it’s an interesting mediation on form and style and audience. She also discovers a love of BMX biking, and narrates her journey from never riding to buying her own bike and challenging herself to finish a particular course. It’s an interesting journey, both in terms of learning about a biking subculture and her internal process of growing through a sport. The motif continues as she narrates her sobriety experience–she shares witty and thoughtful life advice that extends beyond sobriety. If you’re into these topics you’ll love this zine. But even if these topics are new to you, Taryn’s take on them will draw you in.
This is a semi-professional zine printed by Pioneers Press, and it is beautiful. It’s a 1/4 size zine with a soft wrap-around cover, but the inside is old school zine: handwritten with cut and paste images. Julia Eff also includes doodles, illustrations, and a few comic strip sections into the mix. The look is so cool I almost want to hand-write my next zine, except if I did it you wouldn’t be able to read it!
I love a beautifully made zine, but even more than that I love a well-written zine, and Eff’s voice is so real and funny and true. I actually laughed aloud multiple times on the NYC subway where I was reading it, so absorbed in the zine it didn’t matter if I looked like a crazy person. Eff also writes about my favorite topic these days: gender expression (and identity). Eff ID’s as having no gender, or neutrois, and describes their experience of interacting with friends, strangers, a therapist, penpals, etc, and trying to be understood as they are. They also include a visceral description of what dysphoria feels like in the moment. My hands down favorite aspect of this zine though is Eff’s sense of humor. For me, and I think for a lot of people, navigating an either/or gendered world while not relating to a binary gendered self can be frustrating, lonely, and really depressing, and it’s easy for a narrative about that experience to become a living, breathing embodiment of depression. Eff’s sense of humor allows them to take their power back by being in control of the joke. Even though their sense of humor is often self-deprecating, the joke is never on Eff; the joke (it seems to me) is always on the world we live in, on anyone not elevated enough to understand Eff. Major thumbs up.
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This issue is all about privacy and persona, told through the larger lens of gender identity, and how gender ID affects the author’s online representation (and vice versa). It’s a meditation on zine pen names, facebook, generation 2.0, online distro sales, and more. The final segment explores gender directly through a conversation with a friend, and how nuances in everyday conversation intersect with how the author sees h/erself.
Returning to zines after a 7-year hiatus, Hannah shares her experiences with mental health issues through a positive lens of self-care and embracing imperfection. This issue explores depression and anxiety, alcoholism, disordered eating, PMS, and SAD. She also writes about queerness, nutrition, feminism, and her love of microbes. Over 32 pages, this text-heavy zine takes you from a floral loveseat in Texas to the NYC Dyke March, by way of the Wood Where Things Have No Name.