From the Stacks: October 27, 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

Typed in Century Gothic font and entitled a tenderness so
painful i thought my heart would burst
, Karen Olson Edwards’
homage to former ambitions is indeed wrought with emotions: toiling
over insensitive high school remarks, missing favorite sweaters,
revisiting teenage clich?s. Edwards confronts nostalgia’s cruel way
of making the past seem more pleasant and hopeful than the present
ever seems capable of being. Anyone who spent their teenage years
in awkwardness, nurturing high hopes, may appreciate Edwards’
recollections of how ‘totally ridiculous’ plans got her through the
rough spots. a tenderness… appears to be a single
edition, though Edwards also writes
the pine box, described below.
Rachel Anderson

A photocopy of 17 dark-haired people looking somewhat
skeptically at the camera and seated for what could be a pre-1950s
college class photo graces the cover of the second issue of
the pine box. It’s the type of photo I
wanted to take my time with, studying the subjects’ faces and
wondering about their lives. That’s pretty much how the rest of my
time with the ‘correspondence and distance’ issue of Karen Olson
Edwards’ zine went. The pine box is filled with enchanted
musings and photos, but my favorite part was the inclusion of an
excerpt from the National Postal Museum’s membership magazine,
which informed me that when mail can’t be delivered it’s sold at
postal auctions. — Jenna Fisher

Applicant, another Microcosm
publication, may be pint-size, but it packs a punch. The zine
was started by a cartoonist in Oregon who went looking for
magazines in a recycling bin and instead found stacks of Ph.D.
applications from the ’60s and ’70s replete with photos and
recommendation forms. The zine contains the black-and-white mug
shots of Ivy League hopefuls and short captions taken from their
files. What could have been a hopelessly boring exercise turns
out to be something you want to share with your neighbor. One
picture of a long-haired brunette is accompanied by the snippet:
‘Weakness: she is a female and an attractive, modest one so is
bound to marry,’ while a photo of a fair-haired man looking out
from behind black-rimmed glasses reads, ‘I can imagine that he
could be wearing on constant close exposure.’ — Jenna
Fisher

Longtime residents and visitors alike will love
The
Zinester’s Guide to Portland
. The once 16-page pamphlet is
now a 128-page book on its fourth edition, loaded with gems on how
to have a cheap and amusing time in the Rose City (a.k.a. Bridge
City or Stumptown). After a brief history of the city’s founding
(it involves two men in canoe), you’ll find helpful transportation
advice and a breakdown of the city’s offerings by location. Its
exhaustive listings boast everything from arboretums to sex shops,
vegan doughnuts to free museum passes, and dollar Pabst to the
Mudeye Puppet Company. My favorite entry was for The
Vern/Hanigan’s, which directs visitors to ‘look for the TAVERN sign
with the ‘T’ and the ‘A’ burnt out.’ The subtle charm and nuances
will leave you wishing there were guides like this for every city.
— Elizabeth Ryan

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