From the Stacks: February 9, 2007


| February 2007

Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

AK Press'Capitalism bites!' So begins the charming, campy tale of Buffy the Anarcho-Syndicalist, a comic distributed by AK Press that combines the spirit of the cult TV series with the rhetoric of anti-capitalist activists. The author clearly shares my long-harbored crush on Giles (Buffy's 'watcher' on the onetime WB show), who appears in the comic as a sizzling 'hardened revolutionary' sporting a beret, sunglasses, and a series of sexy poses. Ahem. The story unfolds much like that of a typical Buffy episode, with our 'proletarian heroes' rescuing innocent people from the clutches of various evildoers (Klansmen, fascists, and capitalist vampires). There's a close call when Maria, the sinister CEO of Blood Red Enterprises, nearly turns Buffy into her slave and, worse yet, her 'loyal consumer!' If there's another installment, I want to see more puns -- on the show, Buffy's best feature was her love of all things punny -- but for now, I'm just happy that somebody dreamed this up. -- Danielle Maestretti

BelieverThe Believer delivers exactly what heavy readers and culture snobs love to see: interviews with obscure artists and under-the-radar comedians, book reviews in which the entire publication is summed up with one question, writers writing about writers, the famous interviewing the famous, diagrams about editing Wikipedia and the 16 steps involved in Pee-wee Herman's breakfast-making machine. The February issue opens with musings on boredom. Fifty-two pages later, artist David Byrne interviews evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson and they discuss the quandaries of anthropomorphism. Like all McSweeney'sendeavors, the Believer has an artsy feel; it's printed on heavy stock paper with clean designs throughout. Occasionally, funky postcards are tucked into an issue, to go along with the subscription card assuring readers in tiny print that the Believer 'is almost entirely awesome.' -- Mary O'Regan

If the pages of the Believer, the Sun, and the Virginia Quarterly Review got swept up in a tumultuous tornado and fell on someone's desk, the beauteous result would look a lot the Crier. The pages of the second issue of this new literary magazine are filled with reviews and articles fresh enough to give pause (see the piece on a colony of hemophilic dogs) and graphics intriguing enough to keep you looking for more (check out the illustration on how to make your own foie gras shadow puppet). While technology has made it easier for small publications to start up, it seems those willing to put a stake in the old-fashioned publishing world aren't as common. Not so with the Crier, which insists on hand hold-able paper pages as an important part of the artful experience -- one bolstered by commissioning a different artist to illustrate each issue. -- Jenna Fisher



ConservationConservationis the newly re-titled quarterly published by the nonprofit Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) in Virginia and backed by a slew of reputable conservation organizations. The January/March issue marks the evolution of the magazine's mission. Once named Conservation Biology in Practice, the publication now aims to focus more broadly on conservation, daring to promise the best minds and writing in the field and to 'connect science to human experience.' Of note in this issue, the editors spotlight five folks to track this year in 'Forward Thinkers,' and in 'When Worlds Collide' Douglas Fox offers a look at climate change, focusing on the impact it has on various species. -- Elizabeth Ryan

Broken PencilBroken Pencilis one of those independent arts magazines that you might stare at longingly as it sits on the coffee table of a hip, young friend. But now is a better time than ever to start getting your own copies because the issues keep getting wilder. In addition to the usual book, zine, and music reviews, Issue #34 -- 'The Games Issue' -- explores everything from hipster bingo to urban manhunts. In editor Lindsay Gibb's feature, seven gamesters got together to 'create a board game mash-up' in which games like Clue, Connect Four, and Sweet Valley High were combined to make the ultimate board-hopping party. The result: 'Sweet Valley Die.' Sounds like fun. -- Mary O'Regan