Zine recommendations from Ms. Valerie Park Distro

Based in Portland, Or. and Olympia, Wa., Ms. Valerie Park Distro is run by Joshua James, Chask’e Lindgren, and a small group of friends. Their sizeable catalog includes artists, writers, zinesters, musicians, and small record labels from around the Northwest.  They suggested we check out….
What: Cometbus #55
Where I got it: Orca Books in Olympia, Wa.
Why I recommend it: I’ll say first off that I’ve never been a huge Cometbus fan. I’ve always liked it but never loved it. I picked it up when I was visiting my old stomping grounds of Olympia and saw it on the shelves at my old work. The only initial reason was that I hadn’t read an issue in a while. The next day I got an email from a friend in Louisville, asking if I’d read it. The synchronicity of this piqued my interest, so I started in and couldn’t stop. It was such an engaging look at aging in DIY communities. I’ve passed my copy around and recommended it a lot in the couple months since and it’s been fascinating to see how people react to it. Everybody takes away something different. While I was inspired by it and excited to grow older, another friend was depressed by it. While one friend wanted to argue about the intricacies of it, another just saw it as a great story. Definitely one for those that love a good literary zine and want to start a conversation.

Other places to get it: http://www.portlandbuttonworks.com/store/cometbus-55-pen-pals

Zine Recommendations by Seite Books!


This suggested reading comes to us from Seite Books in East L.A., which is curated and run by Adam and Denice. Seite sells new and used books, but I always gravitate toward their zine rack–it displays a great selection from all over the city, country, and world.  They always have more than a few in Spanish (Ines Estrada!), which is much appreciated. 

What: Collisions by Brendan Monroe

Where you got it: From Brendan Monroe in the Zine World part of the LA Art Book Fair

Why you recommend it: It’s a small zine with drawings of particle collisions, inspired specifically by the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Beautifully drawn, timely with the recent boson discovery.

Where else someone can get it: We have a few copies in the shop and you can also get them directly from Brendan.

Zine recommendations from Skylight Books!

incantations cover

Jenn Witte is a woman of many talents, among them expertly capturing book covers in her illustrations and being the head honcho at Skylight Books’ Zine Annex. She does a lot of work to keep the section stocked and full of all the things you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw them.  Obviously, we totally trust her to tell us what we might be missing.  Here’s what she thinks we’d enjoy.

What:  Incantations for Navigating the Cardinal Directions of Los Angeles: North by The Los Angeles Mystery Project
Where you got it: It was submitted to the bookstore; I read it on the subway.
Why you recommend it: It reminds me of the evening that a hummingbird allowed me to hold it for a few seconds– it is a tiny piece of L.A. with a crazy beating heart.
Other places someone could get it:  I’ve asked the mystery author if she has it in any other stores in the city… I think we might be the only place! [Jenn later confirmed it: Skylight is the only bookstore with it!]
Read an excerpt!
 incantations skylight

Zine recommendations from Grrrl Zines A Go-Go!

Ground Up Zine

Grrrl Zines A Go-Go (GZAGG) is a small, San Diego-based group of women who organize zine workshops and events promoting empowerment through self-publishing. They have previously published Let’s DIY, Let’s DIY #2: Taking Zine-Making To The Community, and Zine Capsule: Zine-Collecting For The Future. Margarat from GZAGG shared with us the group’s latest project.

From The Ground Up, compiled and designed by Grrrl Zines A Go-Go

Available at http://groundupzine.wordpress.com (note: a free downloadable PDF of the zine is there too–print and share with your community!)


Margarat says,”We have always been drawn to the activism aspect of zines, and produced this compilation zine on community herbalism as a direct response to issues we see arise within herbalism (and other communities for that matter) that we felt needed to be brought out for more discussion. The zine has strong ideas from many different voices, and the graphics and design make this zine a satisfyingly creative print object.”

The introduction:

Issues of class, privilege, race, and gender come into play when providing herbal care to the community, whether we’re conscious of it or not. As much as herbalists would like to have “folk medicine for the people” many people do not have access to information, clinics, plants, or plant based medicines. Class cuts across all issues when it comes to healthcare, and understanding how to best serve those who do not have financial freedom is paramount to moving toward a truly healthy community.

The herbal community needs to confront these issues on continuing basis. Discussions on class and privilege and how these inform the practice of herbalism are rarely put on the schedule at conferences, and recommendations heard in workshops can sound recklessly out of touch with the realities of many. Let’s face it, the vast majority of U.S. herbal conference attendees are White, and certainly don’t represent the full breadth of our culture.

We find the DIY intersection of herbalism and zines to be an obvious one. Zines offer an accessible technique for sharing information, opinion, and art, just as herbalism itself can provide people with afforbable and accessible health options.

From The Ground Up #1 focuses on herbalists sharing their knowledge with each other to promote more effective and compassionate care for community members who may not have adequate resources for ideal herbal healing and prevention solutions.
– Margarat & Kim

Zine recommendations from Pioneers Press!

The second in our series of suggested reads from trusted sources comes from Adam Gnade of Pioneers Press, a great publishing house based in Lansing, Kansas.  Check them out–they offer zine subscriptions delivered to your door and a million other cool things. 

image via Pioneers Press' website

What: Trans-Siberian by Bart Schaneman

Where I got it: The Pioneers Press catalog.

Why I recommend it: Nonfiction writing’s boring these days because most writers’ lives are boring. There aren’t a lot of people out there living good, real, authentic lives and writing about what they see. When I pick up nonfiction books (and I mean, literary nonfiction) they’re usually about someone’s “funny experiences” in the dating world or their “rock bottom” recovery stories or their coming of age tales in the music scene. I hate that shit. I want adventures. I want to read about people who are LIVING and not just hanging around having nice hair or shopping for clothes or naval-gazing about pop-culture and internet fads. My friend Bart Schaneman LIVES in the way Jack London lived. He travels the world and he looks for new things and better ways to spend his time here on the planet. In Trans-Siberian, he goes from China to Mongolia to Russia. He gives you story and plot and adventure and it’s real. It’s exciting. He LIVED it. He’s one of my favorite people and one of my favorite writers and his zine is goddamn good. Really proud to carry his work in the Pioneers Press catalog.

Other places it can be gotten: Thought Catalog released a really beautiful e-book version of this a couple months back. Besides that, it’s in a lot of stores now. Powell’s in Portland. I think Quimby’s. Maybe Skylight.

From Trans-Siberian:

On the train to Mongolia I slept the first six hours. I had stayed up the night before with a group from the Beijing hostel, drinking and dancing in clubs on San Li Tun and the sleep came easily. When I woke up, the windows were full of the steppe of northwestern China and southeastern Mongolia, landscapes that looked very much like the western Great Plains of America. As the train rolled across the countryside, we began to see more felt gers—the homes of the nomads, conical and white, larger in diameter at the base and shorter than tepees, but similar in structure.

In time we came into Ulan Bator, the capital. Ulan Bator—the one city on that trip that people warned us about. Travelers along the way had told of a city of thugs, pickpockets, and bag slashers. “Travel in groups,” they told us, “Don’t go out after midnight,” and “DO NOT GET DRUNK.” We were in the middle of the steppe at the mercy of the Mongols—a­­­ race once feared throughout the world as vicious barbarians—surrounded by thousands of miles of empty land, alone save for a few pods of travelers, hoping the million and a half Mongols wouldn’t turn on us, get hungry, or kill us as some sort of ancient sport ritual.

An older Mongol woman held a sign with my name on it when I stepped off the train. I looked around and saw Mongols everywhere on the platform watching us. We got in the car and drove off, glancing over our shoulders. At our hostel, the owner, Zaya, launched into a tirade about her people in a Russian accent. “Today, I drove out to the wild horses, the park, and I don’t know why, everyone sits in their cars in traffic, in their Jeeps! We don’t need these cars. We have horses! We are very spiritual people—we think, we have the philosophy that is very high. We are not working like robots. We have socialism in our minds, but now we are also working for capitalism. So we are both. But everywhere everyone needs these shirts, these pants, these robots (pointing at the computer I hoped had reliable Internet service) for what, 70, 80 years? And we need these things? We Mongolian people, we will never work like robots for money, not like that. I think about what we are doing to the earth, and about how the 22ndcentury will be…but it is our reality, it is what we have, and we are not going to say we need to turn away from it. It is like the tomato. It dies, and then it grows again.”


Zine recommendations: Lady Teeth #2

We’ve had a lot of questions via the internet about where to get good zines. It’s kind of hard to say “Everywhere!” without feeling a little unhelpful, so we’re going to stop telling people that zines are all around them and try to give a little direction. We’ll be posting here every few weeks or so with reading suggestions from trusted sources,  plus the information needed to get the zine for yourself. This first rec comes from LAZF organizer Bianca Barragan


What: Lady Teeth #2 by Taryn Hipp 
Where I got it: Gifted from a friend!
Why I recommend it: Before I get going on this, I just have to advise you to talk about zines when you meet new people. Like, right off the bat. If someone seems interesting, tell them you like zines because you will eventually get people giving you awesome things to read. Case in point: this zine, gifted to me by Brodie Foster Hubbard of Fair Dig zine and Shakeytown Radio Hour. 37 pages fly by as Taryn talks about self-care, attending zine fests, keeping friends, getting healthy (mentally, physically), music, food, and a handful of other topics.  By the time I reached the back cover, I felt like she and I had gone on a really solid road trip together because we’d had such an in-depth, varied conversation. I have always been a huge fan of perzines because I can’t imagine myself spilling intimate words onto pages and then sending those pages out for other people to see.  I admire deeply the brave people who can do that repeatedly and always keep it engaging.  For this reason (and others, I’m sure), Taryn Hipp is a total badass.
Other places to get ithttp://www.etsy.com/shop/ladyteeth

From Lady Teeth #2:

“The truth is, my life has never been better & it really sucks that I am missing it. I am so stuck inside my sick brain that I can’t appreciate it fully. Some days it feels amazing & I can actually see that. I can actually feel it in my gut, how wonderful life is & how it will be ok. I will be okay. But other days I take it for granted because I am in a dark, dark place.  I try to go outside, lay in the driveway with my dog & let the sun soak through my skin. I let it warm my bones & breathe life into my sadness. I dig in the dirt, plant things that will grow, vegetables & fruits to consume, herbs to dry & turn to tinctures to heal & I feel proud of my bounty, even when the bunnies chew up my tomatoes or my dog eats my strawberries.”