I want to know if his first name is Herman: A Mermin #4 Review

I dig this cover. What I dig is the whale. The sperm whale. I think it's a sperm whale and no, it's not just because it has the word "sperm" in it. There's something about the shape of it's big round head (I'm seriously not trying to be perverted here) and it's baleen-filled mouth (see, that's not dirty--right?). It just looks cool and sort of fierce and cute all at once, with its angry eyes looking up at the little marine iguana-looking green humanoid from the deep. It may be hard to tell, but the cover is a sort of silver glittery paper, with Mermin, the green fishboy, a sticker. Rad idea. Excellent presentation and I dunno if this is a signed edition, but the author's first name and a little headshot of Memin appear on the inside back cover, in gold ink, which looks fantastic on the silver paper.

The series seems to be about a fishboy, Mermin, who has fled his father and the life aquatic and is pursued by his father's mercenary minions. In this issue, Mermin must face his fears and confront said minions, ending with a cliffhanger as it's revealed that Mermin may have some crazy-insane powers. Or it's a cheap trick from the creator to get us to buy the next issue, but cool nonetheless.

The interior art is simple and cartoony, like the cover, and Weiser tells the story clearly and effectively, though for me, this sort of story is overdone and this aquatic twist doesn't grab me, despite my liking the whale guy's appearance.

Cost: This one's got a $2.00 price on it for 20 pages, plus cover. Mermin 4 was a part of my huge bargain buy from Adhouse, that I keep referring to in my 2011 Richmond Zine Fest After Action Report, the endless box of goodies and just OKs, so far.

Publication: 2010

Contact: Joey Weiser can be reached via the Tragic-Planet website where you can see and buy a plethora of work from this creator.

Recommendation: While this comic is cute, it's not for me, like most all-ages, kid-friendly books.

While I'm adding it to my virtual lending library (you know, send postage and return when done or pass on to someone who will enjoy it), I have a feeling I'm going to be putting this one aside for Mark! as he expressed interested in Weiser's other comic, Monster Isle, I reviewed recently, and he creates his own aquatic-theme comics, like this here stingray episode.

Smashing!: A Review of Smash the Pastryarchy Zine

Most who know me are aware that I'm almost possibly the opposite of a vegan, until recently, a fairly faithful follower of one customized iteration of the paleo or "caveman" diet, consuming several pounds of meat a day, along with some nuts, fruits, and vegetables. They also know that I don't generally consume pastries of any kind, though I am assaulted by non-paleo cake every now and then. They might be surprised that I would buy a zine with the title Smash the Pastryarchy, which contains several vegan recipes for baked goods. What this zine offers is a lot more than recipes for foods I would likely not eat. And Batman. Batman appears within these pages.

While I cannot provide commentary on the recipes, I can vouch for the storytelling that comes with this zine. Creator Kara adds something of a narrative to what could've been a typical catalog of recipes. Kara's storytelling is what brought me into some of the politics of the zine, financial, racial, and sexual. I suppose the "smash" and "archy" should've hinted to me some of this awesome radicalness.

Kara shares insightful anecdotes from when she was a cog in the pastryarchy, each tale taking place in the bakery is poignant and usually humorous in the absurdity of the customers' comments and actions. Alone, these accounts might be isolated incidents, freak moments that indicate problems within individuals. Combined, there is a narrative spotlighting overarching cultural biases in how men treat women, how people "treat" themselves and their money, ideas about race and the color purple, and that even Batman can learn something new.

In one instance, what might be a hopeful moment, she writes about an older couple's reaction to a patch on her shirt that states, "Feel no guilt in your desire." To paraphrase, the woman said, "I needed to know that about forty years ago." Her husband, face turning serious, replies, "Yeah. We were raised on guilt. I don't know if your generation was, but we were raised in it." I would say it might not be as bad as their generation, but yes, we too were raised on it and this is but one example of a captured meaningful moment that provides insight into our culture.

What is the pastryarchy? How do we overcome its tyrannical hold on our wallets? What's it like to be a young woman working in food service with daily interaction with the public? Find out in these pages, if you dare...!

Cost: Check with the creator, but I think it was either $1.00 or a swap. I believe I actually paid for this one at the awesome 2011 Richmond Zine Fest.

Publication: 2011 January

Contact: Kara can be reached via her profile on Etsy. Her email and mailing addresses are also given in the zine, but I don't want to post it to the world.

Update! Kara's zines can also be found on the wonderful-looking Etsy page titled Clumsy.

Recommendation: Buy this zine and tell the creator what your experience was reading it. I hope you'll enjoy the recipes if you're so inclined.

As much as I'd love to share my copy with you, I bought this specifically for a vegan zinester friend who should expect this in the mail... well, she knows how long it takes me to mail things. In the meantime, should I see Kara again at a zine fest, I will have to get another copy.

Hardly Rich in Richmond: Richmond Zine Fest 2008 Review

Welcome to the Richmond Zine Fest.

I didn't know exactly what to expect from this event. I only briefly looked over their homepage and gleaned basic information on time and location. It was hard to pass up this event, even a week after SPX 2008, one of the more well-known, regional expositions for the small press exhibitors. Just over an hour away and free?! Fuck yeah! And for your sake, again, what the fuck is a zine?

The only other zine fest I've been to was the Houston Zine Fest 2006, which was held in conjunction with another concurrent arts event: The Westheimer Block Party, where Cej, John, and I represented the ArmzRace comics and cartoons collective. My review of the Houston Comics & Zine Fest 2006 / Westheimer Block Party can be found here on my very own hardtravelinghero blog.

Jonica didn't know what to expect either. Not that she was thrilled by the event, but that look of contempt is fake. You can see the smile under her false face. Then again, she might have been imagining what it's like on Suds and Studs night, complete with rainbow colored disco ball.

Here are some things from the FREE table:

My spending wasn't "too" bad at this show. Somewhere in the vicinity of $40-$70. I did a lot of swapping with Booty Call. Folks where very swap friendly at this venue, even though I forgot my "T" friendly button. "T" is in trade. I don't think many would confuse me for a transvestite or transgendered. Then again...

What follows are the comics and zines I bought, swapped, or snagged for free, because I'm that cool. Or they were free.


The thing about zines is: There are so many! There are such a variety, and if there is a table full of mixed theme zines, it can be difficult when there is so much choice and there is only really the cover to go by, and you know what the popular saying about that is. This problem of choice (wow--did I just say that?) is fine if all these zines were free, as some are made to be. Some zinesters charge for their final product. This is fine as well, as many zines take several, to dozens of hours to make. Maybe even more. Some zines are filled with pages upon pages of small print text, complete with citations and footnotes. As someone with an MA in Literature, I know how long that all takes.

My advice to newbie zinesters: Have a good, or great "sales" pitch, even if your zine is free of charge. My other piece of advice is: Go for a zine with some kind of point or purpose. Personally (and this may not be true of most people), I usually cannot stand "nonsense" zines, that is, zines of little consequence. I can't relate to them or you, because I don't know what the hell is going on or why it is going on.

Perzines are fine (personal zines). But totally random scribblings...eh.

What we have here is:

Learning to Leave a Paper Trail - Zine Distro Newsletter Fall 2008

The Zinester's Guide to U.S. Mail - Zine World: A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press

The Nine Step Guide to Artistic Credibility - R.M. Rhodes

Indie Fashionista - Simply Lark Press

The Zoo is Called Barnard - Barnard Library

Cognitive Chaos Second Edition and Issue Three - Christine Stoddard

there an artist (ecco un artista) / Learnout - Danielle - (This one seems like more of a comic than a "zine." Whoops.)

Rank #2

Virginia Urban Pagan Review - Samhain/Yule 2008

Monster Gripes

Tax Report

I'm Not Angry Anymore / One Girl Revolution / Mrs. Noggle - Jolie Noggle

Breakfast at Twilight /  The Road of Sand - Erica Satifka

Make This Day - Ashleigh Addict

The Lesbian Lexicon Project - Stevie Anntonym

D*I*Y Comix (Revised 3rd Edition) - Shawn Granton


Nontoxic housecleaning - Raleigh Briggs

Dear America, I'm Lost # 4


Of course what I was really interested in were comics. Call them mini comics if you must, but whatever. Comics. I came out with a decent haul, some of it from swaps, some if it from my thick wad...of singles, with some decent discounts. Some of the exhibitors are pretty awesome and strike deals without being asked (not that I don't ask sometimes, several times, it depends). I'll be like, "I'd like to buy these." So they start adding up numbers and I'm all like, "Oh, and would you like to have a copy of my zine thingy?" And they're responding, "Why yes," and some other things like that. Sometimes that's how it rolls.

The Saddest Story Ever Told - Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig

Moral Code - Jessica White

Evolution Comics # 1 - Erica Satifka

Assassin and the whiner # 15 / You Don't Get There From Here # 1 and 2 - Carrie McNinch

Taken For a Ride - Ken Dahl

Lunch Hour Comix - Rob Ullman

Missed Connections - Nate Waggoner and Craig S. Liszt

Doctor Demo's Taphouse of Tall Tales and Short Stories: The Wonders of Science - The DC Conspiracy

Monsters # 1 and 2 - Ken Dahl

Cramhole - Billups Allen & Amy Shapiro

Animal Stew - Matt Dembicki

The Art School Chronicles Year 1 and Year 2 - Jessica White

Robotmonkeytron / Robot Guy / Ultimate Badass Forever - Oura Sananikone

Reporter # 1 - Dylan Williams

Doctor Dremo Vol. 1 - Matt Dembicki

Welcome to the Dahl House (TPB) - Ken Dahl - Order here.

Venus in Blue Jeans, Venus in Furs - Julia Gfrorer

Fart Party # 3 - Julia Wertz

Sourpuss # 2 - Robyn Chapman

Namby Pampy # 4 - Rina Ayuyang

Distro All Humans!

Microcosm Publishing was there, representing countless comicsters and zinesters. I gave a few copies of Booty Call to...shit--can't remember his name even though we talked for ten minutes straight. I'll have to email Nate Powell and ask, since they know each other. I grabbed an extra copy of the distro, that is, distribution catalog, for a friend in Sacto.

What is a distro? you may ask. To put it basically, it is a catalog and sometimes seller, publisher, go-between, consignment "shop," distributor, and probably other countless services that make it easier for creators of comics and zines to get their works in the hands of interested readers.

Sketchbooks, Tom Tom, and Barbecues, Oh My!

Like a dolt, I forgot my sketchbook, and instead of taking 15 or so minutes so retrieve it before we passed our interstate exit after a free McDonald's breakfast, I figured I'd see who was at the show before deciding if I needed to potentially waste that valuable show time. If there were no comics or interesting visual arts people, I didn't think I'd need one. But then once we arrived, half hour later than planned, I realized there were a bunch of comics folk there. So off to Target...which had no sketchbooks! Luckily there was a Barnes and Noble right there, though I wanted to try to find the art supply store Robert Ullman had mentioned, with Jonica's GPS, but it was a no go on the memory--ours, not the GPS's. So $12 and half hour wasted later I've got a new sketchbook.

On the way back to the Gay Community Center we decide to try some BBQ. Since neither Jonica or I could remember the name of the place Rob Ullman mentioned as the non-vinigery Southern Style BBQ (which is prevelent here), we ended up at Bill's Barbecue. As I'd been awake most of the predawn hours with the runs, I decided on the generic plain grilled chicken sandwhich platter with hush puppies. The hush puppies were good, and even tolerable by Jonica's standards, as often hush puppies are very oniony.  She got BBQ pork and it was all vinegary. I don't think we'll be returning to any of Bill's locations around Richmond, though I would give the menu another try, even though I didn't much care for the coleslaw. It was too minced.

DIY Workshop

Returning to the zine fest, I shopped and swapped some more. At 2:30, Jonica and I attended a 40-minute DIY workshop run by Rob Ullman, Dylan Williams, and Spencer Hanson. We got to look at many examples of comics with silk screened covers, sometimes one color, sometimes multiple colors. The occasional gimmick cover (small press has these too?!). The hosts also informed us on how we can get free paper samples at MrFrench. Distribution of comics was another topic discussed and it was recommended that comics and zine makers try wholesale for cash or store credit, or consignment at local comic shops, music stores, etc. Additionally recommended ia exhibit at shows such as SPX or the Richmond Zine Fest (where a table is something like $20 for the day at the latter event).

Finally: The Sketches

I managed to obtain the following sketches from some awesome comics making folk:

Rob Ullman:

Oura X:

Was it worth it?

Of course. I only wish I had been there from start to finish, without leaving for more than half an hour. Three sketches are hardly enough. And I didn't spend enough money. Well, I did, but you know, in support of the arts.