More zine history

Aw, I was tickled to see that Broken Pencil editor Lindsay Gibb mentioned my blog and my involvement with the Shameless Anthology in this write-up in the Utne Reader (and look at how adorable she is in that photo!). It also reminded me that a few weeks ago when I was at my parents’ place, I dug through my filing cabinet of zines and picked out a few favourites. When I visit, I often like to grab a stack and flip through them. They’re such beautiful things. Everyone was so feisty and sincere. So here are a few (click on the photos for bigger versions).

Canadian indie rawk zines
I started off mainly reading zines about mid-nineties Canadian indie rock. “In the Meantime” was one of the very first, and it was really Sloan heavy and incredibly sweet. I never met Carol, who wrote the zine, but she always seemed like the nicest person. “Tally” was written by a girl named Heather in Halifax, who I also never met, but I always kind of idolized – she seemed really smart and funny. And “In Morning Clouds” was the photography zine for Canadian indie rawk. Sarah Evans, who I’ve mentioned in this entry, is amazing.

I remember being excited to grace the pages of an issue of “In Morning Clouds”:
In Morning Clouds
Look at those glasses! No wonder I was an angsty teenager.

Minstrel Heart
An excerpt from “Minstrel Heart”. I don’t know if many people read this zine but I loved it so much. Sarah had a distinctive style – kind of rustic and obscure and poetic – without being pretentious or too cool. I remember Sarah putting the Wooden Stars and Pavement on a mixed tape for me. And so wonderful, she’s now this ridiculously cool DJ in Toronto.

The most beautiful of zines
This was the first zine I ever read from the United States, a beautiful thing from Brooklyn. Molly Kalkstein was the genius behind this zine and I think it is widely acknowledged that Molly always made the prettiest, most elegant zines. And they weren’t just pretty – they were written beautifully and evocatively. She was a huge inspiration when I started moving away from writing about Eric’s Trip. This is an early Tyger Voyage – they became more elaborate in future issues (thick card covers with tiny skeleton keys sewed on, letter press, velum photocopies). Molly now lives in Montreal and we’ve had many Jean Talon market adventures together. She gave me a bright red pair of American Apparel underwear at my bachelorette party a few weeks ago, even.

I started reading more zines from the States after that:
Pink Tea!
Power Candy! Sugar in the Raw!
Some favourites
“Pink Tea” (by Keight of, “Power Candy” (by Ericka, who was the zine mistress behind Pander Zine Distro and now does awesome photography), a one shot by Nidhi (who is still creating great art), “Hope” by Elissa, “That Girl” by Kelli. And some Canadians are slipped in there as well – “Open All the Time” by Angela and “Other Ramona” by Laura! It’s kind of mind blowing when I think of how many of these zine girls I actually met and still stay in touch with.

The NGFM crew in zine format
And look, it’s the girls in zine format! I loved their zines. I remember once visiting Laura at the coffee shop she was working at in Mississauga and the two of us gushing about Liz’s latest zine. She was maybe 16 then? I’m so happy the three of them have now started what is probably the most awesome blog on the internet.

Amy Greenan is also wonderful, and is someone I now consider a good friend. She’s also an incredible artist (we have one of her paintings hanging on our walls, and she recently painted the most amazing portrait of our grumpy cat, Archer). We met at a Cut n Paste zine fair in Toronto years and years back and now whenever I’m passing through Buffalo or Niagara Falls, I try my best to meet up with her.
HRPS was always stunning

There are so many other zines I didn’t get to photograph (I am noticing a distinct lack of Marissa Falco, Amanda Wheeler and Ciara Xyerra zines in here), but I’ll do more shortly, along with actual excerpts.

She's Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back

I’m proud to have an essay included in this forthcoming anthology. I wrote about zines and how important they were to me growing up, and I really hope that a teenaged girl in some suburb will read it and consider cutting and pasting something together. If you live in Toronto, you should go to the launch – it’s going to be amazing. I would go myself (all the way from Montreal!), but I have a pretty good excuse: I’m going to be getting married in Greece on June 20, 2009 to this guy. So.


She’s Shameless / She’s Writing: June 23rd

Save the date! She’s Shameless launches June 23rd in Toronto at The Gladstone Hotel! Join the facebook group here!

Shameless magazine and This Is Not A Reading Series celebrates the launch of She’s Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back

What media event five years ago transformed the lives of teenaged girls across North America? Here’s a clue: it had nothing to do with a boy wizard or the misadventures of trust fund brats. In June of 2004, Shameless, a magazine for “girls who get it”, first appeared on newsstands. We’ve assembled She’s Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back (Tightrope Books). To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Shameless collection, contributors will perform short pieces, and five teenaged girls will join them on-stage and present monologues from a writing workshop conducted that afternoon by acclaimed writer and teacher Ibi Kaslik. The evening will conclude with an early ‘90s-themed, Sadie Hawkins prom, featuring a noted local DJ. – A This is Not A Reading Series event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Tightrope Books, Shameless, NOW Magazine, Gladstone Hotel and Take Five On CIUT.

Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St West, Toronto

Tues June 23; 8pm (doors 7:30pm) $5 (Free with Book Purchase)

Zine history

I was in Toronto over the weekend visiting my parents. Whenever I’m there, I like flipping through my zine collection, most of which I left behind. I normally read other people’s zines, but since I was looking for something in particular, I started going through my own. There’s no way in hell I will ever reprint any of these zines, but I’m glad I still have reminders of them. I don’t have copies of every single issue, but I do have the flats, at least. Anyway, I snapped a few photos of them.

Various issues of Melt the Snow
Here’s Melt the Snow #4,5,6,7,8, 10, 11, 12, 13. Issues 1,2 and 3 are old and I made very few copies of them. Issue #9 is a mystery to me – I don’t remember what it looks like or what I wrote about. I was pretty good at keeping up the bare-branch tree motif (except for 13, but that was the last issue of mts and I was starting to get bored of the trees, I guess). My personal favourites are #11 (the repeating tree lino print) and #12, the two toned lino print.

A page from mts #8, I think
Here’s a page from #8, I think. This is the kind of design I liked most, but only sporadically achieved – I like the nostalgic photcopied old photos, the smudgy hand drawn lines, that particular computer font. That photo is of my grandparents.

The Second Part #1
After mts, I started “The Second Part”. This is the first issue, with fancy Print Gocco covers. Yes, that’s David Byrne. He became the coverboy when his print turned out to be the most successful of the ones I was testing out at the time. I should credit the photographer, but I photocopied it from a book and I don’t know his name. Either way, I like the way it turned out.

I ended up bringing back most of my zines with me to Montreal, and over time will pick out some of the less embarassing pages to scan. In the meantime, you can peak through my personal archive over here.

Monastery, Nova Scotia

Our Lady of Grace

Our Lady of Grace

Got this postcard in the mail the other day from my old zine friend, Sarah (by old I mean – this girl has probably read every single one of my zines, including “Melt the Snow” #1). She co-founded and helps run the awesome Anchor Archive in Halifax. Anyway, if you’ve read “Cement, Flour, Saints”, this is the holy stream shrine I mention in “Saints”. She found the postcard in a thrift store in PEI and sent it my way. Thank you, Sarah!

Stuff to keep me warm.

I’ve been really good about winter this year. I haven’t really minded the snowstorms – they usually happened on Sundays and I felt cozy sitting at home – writing, cooking, baking – relieved that I wasn’t out on the streets. I even went skiing once. But now, February 29th, the temperature a frigid -15 degrees celcius and I am officially cranky. I mean, come on, enough with it already! The upside is that I’ve been writing a lot this winter, and I’m wondering if it will keep up when spring comes. It’s easy to settle in with my laptop and a warm beverage on a cold night, but it will be a different story when it’s 25 degrees and there’s a bottle of white wine in the fridge.

Anyway, word-wise, I went to two readings this past week. On Tuesday many people crammed into the delightful Drawn and Quarterly store on Bernard to watch a bearded Adrian Tomine give a slideshow presentation about his work, mostly his last graphic novel “Shortcomings”. It was interesting to see the progression of sketches to final graphic novel, and Adrian gave a thorough discussion of the process. He also addressed the “unpolitical” issue that has kind of plagued him his whole career. People expect a visible minority to tackle their otherness in their work, and given that Adrian never has really talked about being Japanese the way say, Sandra Cisneros discusses being Mexican, there have been people who criticize him for what they see as avoidance or internalized racism. It was interesting, and something I’ve definitely thought about myself with my own work. He stands firm in his position that he writes about what he wants to write about, that he’s interested in human behaviour and the small moments between people, and that to do otherwise would be forced. Anyway, his work totally resonates with people, so obviously he’s not doing anything wrong. And like he said, it’s great that people are actually paying attention to comics as valid social commentary, something that wouldn’t have been considered 20 years ago. The funny thing is that you can still sense how self-conscious he is about his work, especially his earlier stuff. It’s endearing.

Last night was the Atwater Poetry Project featuring Elizabeth Bachinsky and Carmine Starnino. Elizabeth was my favourite; she is such a great reader – charming and seductive and funny.

And some zine news!
“Cement, Flour, Saints” will soon be distro’d by the amazing Ms. Hipp’s My My distro. Also exciting, for those of you that have read the zine, an amended, edited version of the first section (“cement”) is going to be published in an upcoming anthology by the Montreal based small press, Invisible Publishing. I’ll post more details about the anthology when I know, but yay.

And I don’t think I mentioned it earlier, but there’s other book activity going on in our house – Andrew and his friend Michael will have a book published by Furnace Press about Buffalo’s grain elevators in September. Details are here: is a wonderful, erudite writer and you know how I feel about Andrew’s photos, so I’m obviously excited to see the end product.

Distro news

A more lengthy post will come soon once holiday madness dies down a little, but my zine is now officially available at Learning To Leave a Paper Trail distro. Ciara’s description includes a line that basically sums up my entire aesthetic approach to writing:

“i like it when people recount things in a kind of obsessive way. “

Happy holidays. Keep warm and remember that the more butter in your meals, the better.

Stealing Genius

Expozine was as overwhelming as I’d expected it to be, but still so satisfying. I came home with a book, some Endless Banquet apricot pansy jam, some wonderful zines (like, QSL USA, a fascinating collection of CB radio calling cards by an old zine friend) and a pair of amazing typewriter key earrings by Misssoka.

Did you get a copy of Stealing Genius with your copy of Matrix? Lesley and I met on Friday evening at the Gare Centrale, plunked down at a table, pulled out some scissors, tape and old copies of Choose Your Own Adventure books and put it all together. We chose the Gare Centrale because of its proximity to a copy shop, and we managed to get the zine done and copy it within 10 minutes of the place closing. Success!

Stealing Genius

Stealing Genius is a collection of various writing from most of the members of the QWF Workshop lead by Jon Paul Fiorentino between September-November 2007 (Albert Cohen, Anurag Dhir, Bettina Grassmann, Josh Levy, Julie Mahfood, Kristina Mainville, C.J. Miller, Lesley Trites and Teri Vlassopoulos). There are excerpts from novels and short stories, poems, even a bit of a screenplay, and an introduction from Jon. Our group is pretty diverse (in ages, professions and writing styles), but I’m really proud of this little collection. If you’re interested in getting a copy, drop me a line.


The collating problem from the other day has been solved, and mail will be going out tomorrow. God bless those train rides from Toronto to Montreal.

For those of you in Montreal, this weekend is Expozine, the small press/comic/zine fair. I’ve never been, but zine fairs are always fun and overwhelming and there are always lots of cute people walking around or selling stuff. So you should go spend your pocket money on zines instead of fancy coffees or jeans or drugs or whatever.

I won’t be tabling, but I will walk around with copies of my zine to trade and give away, so if you see me wandering aimlessly, tap me on the shoulder and say hi. But this is more exciting: back in September, Lesley and I decided to sign up for a Quebec Writers Federation workshop lead by Jon Paul Fiorentino. The workshop turned out to be wonderful and most of us in the workshop decided to quickly slap together a group zine for Expozine called “Stealing Genius”. I’ll post more details about it later on this week, but just so you know, Jon will be giving away copies of it with Matrix Magazine and while you may not want to pay copies for our workshop zine, you definitely want to spend cash on Matrix.