23 February 2009

Zines I've Seen

1952.Herewith, a few delights I've found along the way. Moar as I find 'em.

The Multomah County Library is an unexpected place to find zines, but find them you will. Check-outable too. They say that it's a very personal medium, and zines have been around long enough that the observation is a bit trite, but it's the truth. This first one is particularly personal, and one of the first I looked at since I decided to stop fearing the zine.

Some|body, by Amaris Summer Hayden, is as personal and witty as it is poignant. So far as I've been able to find, two issues have been published; Chapter 1, in July 2006, and Chapter 2, in May 2008. The covers, made to resemble medical file folders (right down to the colored first-three-letters-of-the-last-name labels on the tabs) are created from actual trimmed-down Pendaflex Esselte™ brand folders. The detailing on the cover, consisting of the clip-strip on the top and the big ol' paper clip on the side, were hand-done. A "Patient Information Sheet" is attached to the inside of each's cover It makes one pause after reading the story within, thinking that the person to whom all these events happened and, we estimate, are continuing to unfold.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension is a particularly dreadful disease. You may have heard of it when the "fen-phen" diet medicine controvery broke some years back, when it was called Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. In IPH, constriction of pulmonary arteries (typically with no known cause) cause oxygen-deficient blood to return to the heart from the lungs. This causes the heart to pump harder to compensate, causing enlargement of the right ventricle, overstressing and wearing out the heart at an astounding rate; average survival after diagnosis, via right heart failure, is a mere 2.8-10 years.

Add into this the fact that the author was a mere 27 when diagnosed, and had a 6 year old son when diagnosed, causes the reader to ask themselves questions which were theretofore somewhat corny, such as "what would I do if today were my last day?".

Hayden will live to see her son's 17th birthday, unless the dice roll against her before then, and the odds are not in her favor.

The author uses all variety of cut and paste, drawing styles contrasting detailed realism and childlike on the same page, in a very unafraid style. I suppose anything I say up past this point would be a bit maudlin and lachrymose, so I'd just suggest that anyone who wonders about life, mortality, and how short life can be (and how much observation you can pack into an abbreviated lifespan).

Her last contact address is Mszine@gmail.com.

The Superman Stories, by Mark Russel, is wry and deadpan. In the mode of ironically reinterpreting past icons in a modern light, he recreates Superman as a superhero who doesn't have an alter ego (who really believed that just a pair of glasses and a suit made Kal-El look like a normal newspaper reporter? And I suppose you were totally fooled by Sandra Bullock's 'regular' garb in Armed and Fablulous?) and is kind of a self-centered, tempremental, misogynist fellow–a real jerk at times.

Through a series of vignettes–fifteen "episodes" and a series of intersitials called "The Lois Lane Dialogues" which make you wonder why she puts up with the jerk–we learn much: why Lex Luthor hates him (turns out Superman's the reason he's bald); What Superman's "Indian" name is; that Superman is constanly pestered by leopards; what interruped Superman when he tried to bowl; why Superdog was a menace to the city's butcher shops (and how Superman dealt with it) and more. There's even a "Superman Warnings List" on the back, with such forearmings as:
  • 3: Superman does not eat food that has been prepared in a microwave oven. Hot-pockets, pizza rolls and Jolly time popcorn are all unknown to him.
  • 7: Superman's two favorite smells in the world are Bark-o-mulch and taco meat. Number three is Lois' hair.
  • 9: Superman doesn't enjoy shopping, except for grocery shopping. But he doesn't like to stick his hand too deeply into the fruit displays, for fear of being bitten by tarantulas. Whenever he mentiones this to Lois, she secretly laughs to herself.
The spare, icon-line graphic treatment of the cover is what drew me to it (especially the 1-2-3 illustrated sequence of Supe taking off which has nothing obvious to do with the text beside it). The dry humor kept me reading it.

Mark Russell is also known as a Portland-based writer and cartoonist who self-published The Penny Dreadful. He also has been published in McSweeney's, which means we admire and hate him, because we sent them a list once and it was rejected. It was brilliant.

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