From the Stacks: October 27, 2006

| October 2006

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.

This week's 'From the Stacks' is inspired by the third annual Madison Zine Fest on October 21, when more than 1,000 people buzzed around 50 treasure-laden tables, sharing stories, ideas, and zines. Here are some of our favorites from the excursion.

Midway through my initial get-the-lay-of-the-fest walk around the room at the Madison Zine Fest, I found myself standing in front of a table so loaded with zines -- nary an inch of bare surface showing -- that I almost took cover under a neighboring exhibit of anarchist publications. I had arrived at the table of Microcosm Publishing, the esteemed Portland, Oregon-based publisher and distributor of zines, books, pamphlets, DVDs, and other fun stuff. Among the staggering trove of booty I plundered (or rather, placed gently into my canvas tote bag) was Xtra Tuf #5. At first glance I wondered about the breadth of its appeal -- the 192-page zine is written by a commercial fisherwoman about her profession -- but soon found myself caught up in a fantastic net of gracefully told stories. Issue #5 is 'the strike issue,' featuring a range of voices from Alaskan fishermen recalling successes and failures from strikes past. There's also a surprisingly engaging history of salmon fishing on Kodiak Island and a helpful glossary with entries like 'fo'c'sle' (crew's resting place) and 'hoochies' (squid-like attachments for lures). I don't know if I've ever learned so much from one zine. -- Danielle Maestretti

Mutate Zine thoughtfully explores gender and sexuality with a tone that runs the gamut from serious to lighthearted, often nimbly mixing the two. Throughout, Mutate remains thought provoking without preaching. Topics in the #10 issue include 'genderfucking' (think gender-bending to the extreme), post-break-up celibacy, sexual fantasies with cartoons, conscientious objector registration, and a critique of the Suicide Girls, to scratch the surface. The first Mutate came out six years ago and the introduction to #10 claims that this may be the 'penultimate Mutate.' Not to worry, however: The zine's maker is moving on to new adventures in the realm of DIY publications, including SoyBoi!: Queer Adventures in My Vegetarian Kitchen. -- Suzanne Lindgren

Molly the Popsicle is a delightful comic-zine by father-son duo, Christoph and Herbie Meyer. The cover features an orange-colored (and -flavored) talking Popsicle, complete with a real wooden Popsicle stick! Some may know Christoph as the maker of the charmingly handcrafted zine 28 Pages Lovingly Bound With Twine. Molly is 5-year-old Herbie's story-time conception about a popsicle taken from her frozen habitat only to be forgotten, left at a table's edge to melt into sticky goo. Christoph found the tale 'so delightful, so childishly grim, that I had to adapt it into a minicomic.' Herbie also has another zine (edited by his pops) called Mean Zine Submarine. -- Suzanne Lindgren

Fashioned with an X-Acto knife, some ink washes, and a vintage cookbook, Crumbs on the Cutting Board waltzes through a rhyming ode to food. Created by Alexis 'Lex' McQuilkin, the zine features some intricate paper-cuttings of foodstuffs, such as dim sum and quiche, pasted atop dated cooking guides and recipes, along with a singsong poem ('W is for weiners/boiled and slick/X is for xanthan gum/making sauce thick'). Despite her description of Crumbs... as free of 'an overwhelming amount of thought and emotion,' McQuilkin succeeds in creating a visually impressive piece of zine-art. -- Rachel Anderson