Monday, December 24, 2012

Halifax Casual Gaming Federation Annual 2012-2013

By me! (And friends)

All year long I've been running board game nights at the Roberts Street Social Centre, Sad Rad, and several of the places I've lived. We had a bunch of people show up and it was really fun (I love playing games!).

As I have now made a tradition, I made a zine (with contributions from some friends) that talked about all the different games that we played this year, had spaces for the stickers that were given out after every game, photographs of some of the games, and had a ranking table that showed where everyone placed (people got points for winning games or showing up).

Despite making it all in a desperate, last minute panic (ie. I didn't finish it until about an hour into the launch party), I think it turned out pretty well, and the people who got copies seemed pretty happy with them. I'm going to miss playing games with my friends, but thankfully some of them are interested in taking over and the Halifax Casual Gaming Federation will continue! Maybe I can start something similar in Vancouver. Anybody interested?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Brighton Bike Fest 2012 Zine

Recently someone emailed me requesting a copy of the zine I made about cycling from Vancouver, BC, to Portland, Oregon. How exciting! Of course, then I read this zine about a bicycle festival and realized I can't even remember the last time I rode a bicycle. Maybe more than two years ago? Crazy!

This collaborative zine mostly functions as the program for the bike fest in question. There are pages with the schedule of events, text about the event itself, and maps showing where various things take place. However, there are also collages, art, reasons why riding a bicycle is awesome, and other stuff like that.

Bicycles are awesome, bicycles festivals are awesome, and zines are awesome, but I would have gotten more out of this one if I'd actually been able to go to the events it talked about.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teacups and Typewriters October 2012

By Amber Dearest and Stefanie

At the Roberts Street Social Centre* we run a zine residency every summer. We invite zinesters and artists to come and stay in our shed for two weeks, experience Halifax, and make awesome things. You should apply for next year! One of the residents this summer was Amber Dearest, who completed the first issue of her zine The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes while here.

But back in Montreal, before she came to do her residency, Amber decided to run her own zine residency inspired by ours. It was different as people went to her actual house and slept on the sofa bed in her living room, but it's still awesome to see more of these kind of things being created.

This zine is the newsletter for the Tulip Farm, the house where Amber and her roommate Stefanie (and the cat Sebastian) live. It tells about how they met, has a map of the apartment and descriptions of each room, some stuff about the residency program, letters from two residents who stayed there and made zines, and info about how you can come and hang out there and speak (bad, but improving) French with them.

It's cute and sweet, and reminds me of the newsletter I made for a house I lived in (in 2005! I wonder if I still have Blatch Breaking News somewhere), and how I sat in Amber's kitchen at "a chrome table with a turquoise top that [Amber] found at a flea market when [she] was thirteen years old, and have since moved with [her] to twelve different apartments" and played Bannagrams and The Best Game Ever, and ate cereal, and drank tea.

*I've just realized that by the time this review goes live I'll have left Halifax, my home of almost two years, and the Roberts Street Social Centre, where I spent a lot of time volunteering and having fun, and which was the reason I moved to this city in the first place. And, oh, that makes me feel sad, oh! I will miss you RSSC!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Maps of America

By Jessica Ross and Ben Gallagher

Maps! I love maps! I've made zines with maps in them! I've made zines that are maps! I look at neat pictures of maps online! There have been times when I've ended up hoarding maps to use in art projects. Why do I like them so much? I guess on maps covering large amounts of geography (like this one) I enjoy the potential for travel, while on maps of cities I love being able to see the whole of an urban environment (there's potential for travel there too!). And in both cases there's the combination of the artistic with the functional.

This is a map of the continental USA that fills a sheet of 11 x 17 paper. It shows the route that Jess and Ben took on their journey through America. The opposite side of the paper has some writing about their trip, and several smaller versions of the map that point out the locations of where they ate Mexican food, went swimming, went dancing, bought bread, and interacted with poets. Neat!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Radio CKDU 88.1 FM Colouring Book

CKDU is a campus radio station based out of Dalhousie here in Halifax.

(Aside: A friend and I used to have a radio show on the campus radio station when I was at university. It was called Meanwhile, Back at the Comic Book Shop and we talked about comics for an hour every week! That was over seven years ago, and I still miss it. I really need to start podcasting. If you're really bored you can go look at the archives in the blog I created for it, and read reviews to see what I thought of comics back in 2005. Oh, and apparently I wrote a bunch of stuff for it in 2009 after the show ended, I don't even remember that!)

Every year (I think) CKDU has a fundraising drive asking people to help support the station. A few years ago they put out this colouring book as part of the drive. It's not really a colouring book, but instead just some old show posters photocopied and bound into a book. I mean, I guess you can colour them in if you want.

Some of the posters in here are pretty awesome (there's a pretty neat one by Kyle Bridgett, who has a weird furry animal fetish erotica comic, you've been warned), and some are kind of boring. But it's also cool to look at them as a snapshot of shows that happened in Halifax in the past (one of them is for a show my friend's band played at!). The reproduction on some of the posters is weirdly terrible though, and it looks as though they might have been scanned and blown up from handbill size, which is too bad. I also wish there were more!

Probably the best part of this book is that it includes bios of the artists that did the show posters. That's awesome! Though at the same time I'm not entirely sure who drew what, so I can't really say who drew the poster below. I really like it though.

And The Evens are a pretty awesome band.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shotgun Seamstress #3

I've been hearing about Shotgun Seamstress for a few years, so I'm glad I finally managed to pick up an issue and give it a read.

Shotgun Seamstress is a zine about being black, queer, artistic, and punk. The zine uses interviews, comics, bios, and people's stories to discuss poverty, classism, racism, homophobia, and other related topics. This issue is all about money, and much of the content focuses on not having much/enough and why that's an issue in our society.

There are pieces on trainhopping, a photographer who didn't get any success until after he died, royalties in bands, and capitalism in general. My favourite piece was an interview done with Mick Collins (a member of the bands the Dirtbombs and the Gories). Collins is in his forties, and the piece discusses growing up in Detroit before hip hop, how that style of music has influenced black American culture, the co-opting of black culture by white people, how many blacks feel the need to conform, and why and how the black punk scene in Detroit was killed off.

I found this piece to be interesting historically, in part because I am interested in the way certain cultural aspects are co-opted by different groups, and the way sub cultures are created, grow, and shrink. The interview ends saying that they continued talking, and I wish that more of it had been printed!

Overall I found Shotgun Seamstress to be worth reading because it gave a different view on American society, beyond the one I am used to hearing (even from other punk zines). I may not have agreed with everything in here, but I guess it is important to see various view points on things and not just make assumptions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Expeditions and Adventures

By the Radar Friends and the Sonar Gang
(Two comics collectives which are now defunct, or at least their websites no longer work, I got this at contributor Jordyn Bochon's yard sale.)

It feels kind of weird reviewing older works by people who are still creating. Older works done by people who aren't that old are almost by definition not going to look as good as their current stuff. Drawing skills will improve, story telling will improve, hell, even knowledge about how to publish things will improve.

So yeah, I'm reviewing a five year old comic I got for free. How useful! Clearly my reviewing skills haven't improved in the several years I've been updating this blog.

This anthology features six different tales of daring do and thrilling undertakings. Tim Carpenter's Adventure Comics #371 is a tale of an early 19th century adventurer. Of course, as you can tell from the title it's also one in a longer series of stories that I don`t believe exist. This means that there isn`t really any beginning or end, though as I've definitely written my share of stories like this I can't really complain. Art-wise Carpenter has some nice use of shadow and blacks, though there's not much in the way of backgrounds.

Lydia Fu presents a tale of the pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny. I think by now this story has been done to death, though I`m sure someone will comment and say they've never heard of them before. Anyway, it features hard to read computer lettering (I`m guessing a font didn`t reduce/copy well), and full page lesbian sex. Woo!

Colleen MacIsaac does a comic about the Bathyscaphe Trieste, which is something I'd never heard of before! It's a neat story about undersea exploration in the 1960s, and the artwork manages to convey things pretty well. There are definitely some problems with the reproduction, but I'm glad I read this one.

Heather Verdin contributes a brief, almost wordless, tale about travelling by train, while Jordyn Bochon's story about rescuing a cat up a tree had some charm but definitely suffered from "I know your art gets better than this"-itis.

The final story by Kim Hoang and Mark Lee is a D&D inspired fantasy tale of a party of adventurers getting to a town and splitting up to get more supplies. Most of the story is about looking for hats, and I thought it was cute and funny. I liked the cartoony nature of the art, and the use of zipatone in the background. This was probably my favourite.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Fury No. 20

Mark Novotny
5413 6th Ave
Countryside, IL
60525, USA
One dollar

To some extent I feel kind of weird reading punk zines and writing reviews of them while listening to Bjork. It's like my headspace and the headspace of the person working on the zine are completely different. Can I appreciate hot, crowded punk house shows, and the search for '90s emo records at the same time? Sure, but it seems so much more...theoretical than maybe it should.

But The Fury is a zine that perhaps encourages readings such as this. There are pieces on language and words that discuss the works of Derrida and the Deconstructionists (amongst others), and Novoty wonders how much of our society and culture is based around the language we use. How language can be changed to change the way that people think.

And so when reading the rest of the zine I became aware of the word choice that Novoty used. The zine may be typewritten, but I got the feeling that it had been through multiple drafts before this final version was put together. Novoty knows about the limitations of language, but is doing his best to convey his own feelings and thoughts to others in the best way possible/only way he knows how.

There are stories about drunk singers at punk shows who try to stab their band mates. About walking unfamiliar streets and sleeping on unfamiliar floors. About potential and obscurity. About presence and sentimentality. About nerves and melancholy. About the deaths of friends and what they'll never be. About how those deaths can change what you are and what you become.

I often say that I think too much about many things, and this zine didn't help, but at the same time I like thinking about many things, and I like reading about how others also wonder about word choice and perceived negativity. I thought about dead friends while reading this zine, and also people I haven't seen in years (and probably will never see again). I felt sadness over what could have been, and joy for what is and will be.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rum Lad Issue 3

Just the other day I got an email from a 16 year old girl asking if punk was dead, and if I knew of any punk zines in the UK. One of the first to spring to mind (after thinking this email was one of the most adorable I'd even received) was Rum Lad, a zine of which I've enjoyed every issue I've read, and that I wish I'd read more issues. So I was excited when I recently found a copy of an older issue in the Anchor Archive Zine Library at the Roberts Street Social Centre.

While I would describe Rum Lad as a punk zine, it might not be what those words cause to immediately spring to mind. There are no record reviews, no band interviews, no political rants. Instead the main feature of Rum Lad are Steve's illustrations, which I really enjoy! Each page features one illustration and a bit of text jammed into it somewhere. The illustrations in this issue cover about six months in 2007, and it seems like Steve had a pretty busy year.

There are pictures from various towns and cities in England (including "the bleakest place I [Steve] I've ever been to"), Reykjavik in Iceland, Oslo in Norway, and Hoogeveen in the Netherlands. That makes me incredibly jealous, and a little sad that I live in Canada which is so big and unpopulated. 

There are also pictures of bedrooms and record players, statues and punk shows, ferris wheels and grave yards. I really like Steve's drawing style, though struggle to say what it is about it that I enjoy so much. There are aspects of photo realism to his art, but also an organic element as there are rarely (if ever) straight lines, even if you might expect to see them on a shelf or a street sign.

The lack of continuity between the different pieces of art will leave those looking for some sort of coherent narrative disappointed. We don't know why Steve went to Oslo (or any other place really), and rarely know what he's really thinking when he goes to these places. But I find that I don't care, as the tiny snippets that are revealed help give some context, and with Steve's art that's enough for me.

Plus I found these amazing videos by DJ Scotch Egg and White Mice because of this zine. Hurray!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Advanced Brains: Hardcore Punks Against Dead Guys The Role-Playing Game

By Jesse Harrington

We approach the building. It looks empty, though was that a light on inside? We'd heard this was a good place to put on shows, but I'd never been to one before.

We try the doors. Locked. I remember hearing something about a key hidden somewhere so we check the alley around back, but there doesn't seem to be anything there. We search more of the grounds and eventually find the hidden key holder.

It's also locked.

The lock on this one is a combination lock. We try a couple of variations, hoping to figure out what the right combination will be, but with no luck. Then I remember a friend! We give her a call and she tells us the combination. We're in!

We stumble around inside, before managing to get the lights on. Hey! This would be a good place to hold shows. We start setting up for playing music and scrounge up some cables and manage to hook up the ancient equipment we find. Success!

And then more people showed up and we were able to actually start playing Advanced Brains, a game where we broke into an abandoned building in order to put on a punk show.

This is a homebrew RPG that is pretty extensive in the rules it includes, and I have no idea how well it would work if you'd never played something like this before. I had to keep checking back and forth through the book to find out what the players should do when a security guard starting chasing them, or how being drunk would affect their combat against zombies.

However, everyone that played had a blast, and playing an RPG in which you go dumpster diving, shoplift alcohol, crash vans into zombies, and play punk shows (poorly) was really fun. After we finished the adventure included in the book, we started going through the rest of it and trying out various things we hadn't had a chance to do (dine and dash! smashing more things!).

The consensus seemed to be that it would be fun to just play the game without any plot ("Let's go dumpster diving!"), and see where it grew from there, instead of following a premade story. I can certainly see the appeal of that, and the number of actual RPG campaigns that have been sidetracked by any number of things is countless.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Empty Orchestra no. 1

By Cheyenne Neckmonster

Personally I'm not really a big fan of karaoke. Or at least I'm not a fan of the style of karaoke most common in North America. I'm not really a big fan of bars in general, so going to one and watching people I don't know sing songs I don't know or like seems like a pretty horrible way to spend an evening. Plus I don't particularly want to stand up and sing in front of strangers either.

But something I do like is reading Cheyenne's zine about karaoke. Feeling that karaoke was not a big enough part of her social life, she spent a summer dragging her friends and co-workers to karaoke nights all across her city. And then she wrote incredibly in depth and awesome reviews of them all. How awesome? So awesome I bothered to type up the entirety of the first one so that you can read it yourself, because I don't think I can describe the charm of this zine in my own words. If you like this there's a bunch more in the zine itself and you should definitely check it out.
Todd's karaoke Bar and Grille is on Lane Allen Rd, nestled behind a Home Depot, in the same strip mall complex as a Big Lots, a game shop called The Rusty Scabbard, a Chinese Restaurant that always looks closed, and Cash America Pawn & Check Advance. The cultural epicenter of a bottom-rung commercial Bermuda Triangle. Though location is somewhat peculiar (as is the decor - a leftover assortment of holiday decorations that never get taken down), it somehow adds to its charm. The crumbling parking lot, the closed storefronts of pawn shops and nail salons, the battered cars assembled out front, arranged haphazardly, as if the occupants were so eager (or drunk) that they felt no need to heed traffic etiquette: these conspire to enhance, not detract from, the full Todd's experience.

Todd's doesn't open until it gets dark, which is probably for the best. The sticky, carpeted floor, duct-taped seats and tattered tablecloths wouldn't be as endearing if exposed to sunlight. In fact, I think they might deteriorate. It fancies itself a "Bar and Grille." They get the "bar" part spot-on, standard choices like Bud or Bud Light, Coors or Coors Light, Miller or Miller Light, cheap vodka, cheap whiskey, canned juice, and soda. But the "Grille" part? I think they might have had some bags of chips somewhere. I'm glad I didn't go expecting actual food.

The first time I went to Todd's it was the summer, and the last dying rays of the day kissed the tinted windows as the door was opened to the smoking, hollering regulars outside. I stepped in, head down, and found a table at which to peruse the song selection. The hefty binder sat, spine broken, rings off-kilter like cracked ribs, on a table in the corner. Little slips of paper and failing ballpoint pens were strewn on various tables from the parade of nights before. I leafed through the wavy pages, trying to decipher the tiny print in the poor light, and waited for my friends to arrive. Three Library & Information Sciences students, a co-worker, and one guest made it to the bar. That sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Anyway, we poured over the collection in the fading daylight that snuck in from the parking lot. Vague wafts of old cigarettes and car exhaust swirled around and mingled with the musty carpet and stale beer smells. I ordered a Miller High Life and scribbled some tiny letters and numbers onto a slip of paper, which I gave to a man sitting in front of a computer attached to the bar. Turns out he was Todd.

A guy walked by our table with a box of delivery breadsticks, making small talk with us in order to brag about being a professional singer who came to Todd's to keep his vocal cords strong. He knocked out the crowd, not with his song selections, which were pretty weak and modern, but his range, which was impressive. He introduced himself as Josh.

Alanna, a fellow LIS student, was classically trained in stinging but had never done karaoke. Eager to get more people on the stage, I insisted that she choose a song and give it a shot. She choose a song from the Phantom of the Opera. When it came on, Josh ran into the bar from outside, exclaiming to us -- "This song has a male and female part!! Should I get up there??" To which I could say, "YES!! DO IT!!" He faltered. "But, does she know me? Won't that be weird?" I shook my head. "No, it's not weird, we know you! You're Josh!" That was convincing enough for him, and he swept the mic off its stand just in time to start "All I ask of You."

The force of both of their strong, well-trained voices overpowering the cheap synth version of an opera song brought the bar to a grinding halt. Everyone sitting at the bar gawked at the stage, unable to process what was unfolding at the back of the room. People leered in from outside. Nobody at our table knew what to think. It was kind of beautiful, the two of them, the meek library-in-training and the self-assured, fashionable dude, singing like they had a real audience instead of a mostly empty bar, standing easily onstage in front of the broken chair and the tinsel curtain and poor lighting, wiping the grimy edges of the world away for a second.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peach Melba #s 32, 33, & 34

By Pearl
PO Box 74
Brighton, UK

Three more issues of the most regularly produced zine I've ever seen (one issue a month for three years!). Amazing! Especially when you discover that Pearl is only 15. I don't know what I was doing at that age. Reading a lot of comics and playing a lot of video games. Wait, that's exactly what I do now. Dang, maybe that is why I make so few zines...

On each issue's cover Pearl features a postage stamp. I'm not sure how she chooses these but these issues have some pretty awesome ones! There's one for Alan Turing (there's a neat statue of him in Manchester), and one for the Fantastic Mr. Fox (as illustrated by Quentin Blake). The last time I noticed the stamps on the things I sent it was when I specifically requested ones that didn't have the British royal family on them.

Each issue of Peach Melba is filled with lots of different types of lists. These issues include a drinking game based on UK politics (wait, how old is Pearl?), some of Pearl's life goals ("drink gin", "win a game of Scrabble"), characters from ancient myths, London Tube stations that contain all five vowels (only four!), and a "Mystery List" of letters and numbers. What do they mean?! Secret code? Library reference guide? I have no idea. Clearly I am no Alan Turing.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes #1

By Amber Dearest

(I'm in Montreal right now, so clearly it's a good time to review a zine by  Montreal resident. Though, admittedly, she did make this zine in Halifax.)

The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes is the new zine by Amber Dearest, who was the creator of the long running Culture Slut zine. Amber came to the Roberts Street Social Centre earlier this year and stayed in our shed for two weeks working on this zine and other projects.

A lot of perzines deal with depression and other mental health issues. These can be tough things to read about, and tougher still when you know the person who wrote them (should I have noticed? Was there anything I could have done?). In this zine Amber says that she never knows if she should tell people who ask how she really feels, and I think it's interesting how she won't tell her friends about her feelings, but she will write them down so that strangers can read them. Many other people (including me) have done the same thing, and it's kind of strange to think about why this happens.

Amber also writes about dealing with sobriety, writing letters, gentrification, punk femme aesthetics, and more.

This isn't my favourite zine by Amber; I feel that it's too slight to be a satisfying read after some of the other issues I've read. This is despite the fact that I know that this issue is shorter because it was made under a tight deadline as part of the residency program, and that reading more about her depression would have made me feel worse. Still, I look forward to reading the next issue when it's finished!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hewin' a Nutshell: Tales from Past Lives

By Hew

Perzines are a pretty common thing in the world of zines. (Probably the most common thing.) People writing about their own lives, what they're doing, and what they're thinking. But there really is a difference between writing about what you did for yourself (in a diary or something) and writing for other people. Everyone's personality and viewpoints will colour their recollection of events (and eventually you end up with memories of memories that might have little to do with what actually happened). Writing for an audience can create an extra layer that separates the written word from reality, as you edit what you want other people to know about.  At some point I'd love to read two different zines that cover the same event, and see how different people recall and put emphasis on different things.

What a ludicrously long introduction.

This zine is a perzine, but in some ways it seems more "authentic" than other perzines because it is mostly just reproductions from Hew's old notebooks. There's still an editorial process as he chose what to include and what not to, but none of the content was originally created with others in mind.

There's a collection of things from various to do lists ("build 2 sawhorses"), random poetry and lyrics, things Hew had written down to look up and never looked up (something I know all too well), and random stories and doodles. It's pretty chaotic, but there's some neat stuff in here too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chase the Sun #2 Westwarder-Bound

By Emily

So those of you blessed with amazing powers of observation will notice that the title of this post differs from the text on the picture above. This is because I, in my infinite wisdom, managed to scan the back cover instead of the front. And I'm too lazy to go scan it again.

When I went to Portland a few years ago I used the Zinester's Guide to Portland. I thought it was a pretty awesome guidebook that told me where lots of cool things were. I've travelled quite a lot, and used guidebooks that told me little that actually interested me (Lonely Planet's guide to Japan being the most disappointing*), so I was excited to use a guidebook that told me where all the vegetarian restaurants and thrift stores were.

When I went back to Vancouver I drew and made my own guide to the city. It was fun to make, though it could have been improved in about a million ways. I left copies in a bunch of places, and one of my friends said that they gave copies to people that visited them.

This zine made by Emily is similar in many ways. It's a tiny zine she made for her friends who visited Vancouver. It tells you about vegetarian restaurants, parks, libraries, used bookstores, and other neat stuff. I enjoy how personal it is (the guide on how to get back to her house and the phone numbers in the back mean I can't just give this to other people), though a more general one would have been good too.

Ultimately, I love travelling to cities and I love zines, so zines about cities are one of my favourite things. You should definitely make a zine guide to your city and then send me a copy!

*When it talked about castles and geisha-girls being the Japan of "your imagination" I realized I had the wrong book. The Japan of my imagination is full of robots, neon, and comic books.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

animal facts volume one

By Katy Curwin

It's not often (or ever) that I call out zines for false advertisement, but I have to put my foot down somewhere, and animal facts volume one is that place. I'm kind of sad to be doing this, but this really has to be said. This is important and I don't want anyone getting this zine under false pretenses.

There are no facts about tigers in this zine.

In fact there are no facts about any type of cat at all. None, nada, zilch, zip. And don't try to tell me about tiger shark facts. That picture up there is clearly a land tiger. Tiger sharks not only live in the sea, they aren't even mammals!

Sure there are cool facts and pictures about koalas and giraffes and pigs and other animals, but I was promised tigers and there are no tigers here. Terrible!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cat Circus

By Sarah E

Cats! The internet loves cats! Zinesters love cats! Thus everyone (internet + zinesters = everyone) will love my review of this zine that features cats, right?

This short zine combines pictures of, and text about, cats and circuses from a children's encyclopedia. Giant cats ride on top of buses, children gather around posters advertising the cat circus, and we learn many amazing facts. Did you know that the "common domestic cat is one of the many strange animals obtained by circuses from far-off lands"? Clearly you can believe everything in print! It is all entirely factual.

To be honest, I kind of wish this zine was longer. I need more pictures of cats. The internet is not supplying me with enough.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brunch Scene no.1

By Sarah Noonan and Emily Ostapovitch

When I heard my friends were making a zine about brunch, I was pumped. A zine about all their favourite brunch places! Restaurant reviews for a city I don't live in! Excellent. (I'm not even kidding, I loved this zine about pizza places.)

So I was a little disappointed when I discovered that this was actually a recipe zine that told you how to cook various brunch foods. Despite this zine sitting in my house (actually three houses at this point) for months, some of the food seeming pretty delicious, and one of the creators actually coming and sleeping on my floor, I have not even come close to cooking any of the things in here. I guess as awesome as vegan chorizo sausage sounds, I'm just not willing to buy multiple ingredients that I doubt I'll ever use again.

So instead, here are two anecdotes related to this zine!

When Emily came and stayed at my house last month, I did what any person would do: threw zines at her. Specifically I threw this very zine at her. At first she was confused, and then excited, because she had apparently never seen a copy of this zine before. Her friend had printed it and hadn't mailed her a copy yet! (Reminiscent of when I wrote something for a zine Emily was editing, and then reprinted it in my own zine and sent her a copy before her's was finished.)

Just before Emily left, she and her friend decided to take my friend and I out for brunch (hurray!). We agreed on a place just down the street from where we lived (though Emily and her friend were now staying somewhere else in town), and my friend and I went down there and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally we heard from them that they had gotten on the wrong bus and ended up in Dartmouth (how awful!). (Or perhaps they'd gotten on the correctly numbered bus, but the bus's number changed while they were on it. A suspicious story, but something I've heard from other people as well.) Eventually they managed to find the place and we all had lunch (it being too late for brunch).

Of course if Emily had just cooked us something, we wouldn't have had to wait around so long...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Harbour Water Fest 3

By Shannon

Every year the Roberts Street Social Centre runs a residency program. Artists and writers come to stay in our shed for a couple of weeks and make zines, art, or whatever they want really. It's a pretty awesome program and you should definitely apply next year!

Shannon was the first resident this year, and this is the zine they made during their stay. It's mostly about Harbour Water Fest, a local punk music festival put on in people's basements and living rooms. Shannon writes about her experiences in Halifax in general, and the shows she went to specifically, and she also got other people to write about their own memories of the event. Apparently there was a shadow puppet play!

Shannon also interviewed the lead organizer of the event, members of bands that played, and other people who went to shows. The interviews are pretty interesting to read,  and cover everything from small town living, to transphobia, to  trying to create more positive, inclusive, and safe spaces for others.

The final part of this zine are the many photographs that various people took at the shows in Harbour Water Fest, and most (or all?) of the posters people made to advertise the various events. I really like DIY posters, so seeing them all collected here was pretty neat.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Portland Button Works Quarterly #1

By Alex Wrekk and Derek Neuland
1322 N Killingsworth
Portland, Oregon
97217, USA

Well known zinester Alex Wrekk (Stolen Sharpie Revolution, Brainscan) opened a custom
button shop with their friend Derek Neuland earlier this year. (Not the buttons that hold things closed of course, but the type with pictures and words on them, also known as badges.) Their store also stocks lots of zines, and their online distro has some pretty awesome stuff.

This brief zine acts mostly as a catalogue for the shop: it gives prices for custom button orders and lists new zine releases that they have in stock. But it does have other content like top ten lists from both Derek and Alex, upcoming (and now past) zine events in Portland, and some other stuff.

You don't actually have to order this, and in fact Alex would probably be kind of confused if you tried to as it comes free with orders from the shop, but it does what it set out to do.

Alex and Derek also do a pretty awesome zine podcast called Nobody Cares About Your Stupid Zine. If you like podcasts and zines it's definitely worth checking out, it's just too bad there aren't more episodes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Echo Echo #9

By Keet Geniza

In some ways the name of this zine seems like a good descriptor of the contents. Short snippets of events in the life of the creator, lacking in context or larger narrative: a concert, an art show, a trip. Incomplete in the same way echoes can be, when you only hear part of the original. Eventually, these echoes of real life start to build up, creating not so much an actual image of the writer, but an outline that shows where, if not who, they are.

Most of this zine is about Keet returning to Manilla, the city of their birth, after five years of living in Canada. Once again we are presented with echoes, but this time of a different sort. These echoes are of the people and places that Keet left behind, and then returned to see again. Some things are the same, some are different, and some don't match the memories, though perhaps it is the memories that have changed, and not the reality.

In between the stories there are illustrations and comics. They range from the food Keet ate, to the karaoke bars they sang in, to the subways they rode. The thick-lined style is one I find appealing, and I'd be happy to read a zine that was just filled with them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Digital Denial (analog photographs in the digital age)

By Dandy Denial
PO Box 226
Irvine, AB
T0J 1V0

Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee.

Of so the cover of this zine says. To be honest I don't really like coffee. Sure, I used to drink it, but I eventually realized that the amount of milk and sugar I was putting into it to make it taste not like coffee wasn't that good an idea. I mean, I don't like consuming too much sugar (please ignore all those cookies I just ate), and if I'm going to drink a hot beverage I'd rather drink cocoa or a herbal tea or something. Plus the number of people who end up addicted to the caffeine in coffee kind of distresses me. I've known people who get headaches when they don't get their morning coffee. That's kind of crazy.

But lots of people like coffee, and this is a zine of photos of people enjoying coffee (or at least feeding their addiction). The photos are candid shots, and they're kind of cute. However the scanning of the analog photos, and then the printing/copying of them has made some of them overly dark, and I think seeing an exhibition of these photos in real life would be a better way to experience them.

There are also two brief stories about drinking coffee. One about busking, which I thought was pretty funny, and the other about not sleeping and drinking terrible coffee. If you're a big fan of coffee, you very well like experiencing it vicariously through this zine.

Monday, September 10, 2012

24 Hour Zines: Part 2

The second zine I made at the Roberts Street 24 Hour Zine Challenge was one I've been planning to make for ages, and finally the stars were right as the Dartmouth Comics Arts Festival was happening just a couple of weeks later.

I was inspired by the Dino Saw Us sticker book some people I know made at a UK comicon a few years ago, and the Panini sticker albums in which people try to collect stickers for each member of a soccer/football team (or whatever, I remember having Ghostbusters ones as a kid). I combined both ideas and listed every person/group who had a table, gave their website address, and included a space for a sticker.

I didn't tell anyone I was doing this, so I was kind of terrified everyone would hate it. But on the actual day I gave out stickers to all the artists, and they all seemed happy to participate. We ran out of albums by the end of the day (I had made over one hundred!), and a lot of people (especially kids) really enjoyed collecting all the stickers. There were numerous comments online saying how cool they were, and the organizer asked me to do it again for next year. A clear success!

I went around at the end of the day and got stickers from most of the people that were still there. I won't post all the pages here, but you can see the whole album on imgur or on facebook.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

24 Hour Zines: Part 1

The Roberts Street Social Centre had their 24 Hour Zine Challenge last month. I went and, in addition to eating some pancakes, make a couple of zines.

The first was the newest issue of the Halifax Comic Jam anthology. I didn't draw much of this issue, but I scanned it all in, did some digital editing, designed the cover, and laid it all our. Hurray!

The cover was pretty fun to make. I found a jam jar in the fridge (I can't remember what was in it, but it wasn't jam...), soaked it in water, pealed off the label, dried it off, scanned it, and edited it on the computer.

You can find the Halifax Comics Jam on Facebook. Their next event is on September 25th.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Flash, I Love You, But We Only Have Fourteen Hours to Save the Earth

Yeah, I've totally fallen down in getting reviews up here again. That is in part because I was completing this zine!

Oblast #15: Flash, I Love You, But We Only Have Fourteen Hours to Save the Earth contains:
- Personals from mythological figures
- Potato chip reviews
- Letters to a dead friend
- A fake wikipedia article
- Random scifi nonsense

Plus, I've been working on a top secret project that should hopefully come to fruition soon!

Monday, July 23, 2012


By Piotr Nowacki

When I was sent some comics from Poland I was initially a little unsure about if I would be able to review them. If they were entirely in Polish I wouldn't be able to read anything! Thankfully, Moe is a silent comic, and thus doesn't suffer from my lack of ability to speak Polish.

Instead I grew concerned with some of the character designs. There are many characters in this comic (or perhaps just the same character in different guises) that look an awful lot like early twentieth century racial caricatures (I didn't scan any, so you'll just have to trust me, I did get ask some friends what they thought, and they agreed with me). Of course, this doesn't quite look out of place because the entire comic is reminiscent of early twentieth century cartoons, with a main character who's a funny looking dog, weird slapstick humour, and a storyline that is less coherent narrative, and more just a series of things that happen.

And if the whole comic was telling a story about that time period, or using parody or satire to create some sort of message I'd be okay with the (possible) racial caricatures appearing in this story. But it's not, and so I'm just generally left with a sense of unease, even if the art is good, and I could easily imagine the whole thing as an animated short. I just wish that some of the character designs had been different.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Peach Melba #s 29, 30, & 31

By Pearl
PO Box 74
Brighton, UK

I haven't gotten an issue of Peach Melba in ages, so a recent package included a big pile of them! I won't review them all separately, as that would take forever.

Peach Melba is a list zine made by a... 15 year old? I think she's 15 now. That would be impressive enough, but she's been making this zine for three years! It has over thirty issues! I wish I could be that prolific.

These issues feature lists of things that oscillate, different types of rackets, Pearl's favourite books, and more. The book list is probably the one I liked best, partially because I really like books, and also because I have read and enjoyed several of the books on Pearl's list! I'm going to have to look up some of the others and get them out of the library.

I do have a feeling that this book might have inspired this zine originally. Though not all of the lists in Peach Melba are useless.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bottoms Up

I went to a pirate themed murder mystery on Saturday, and it was lots of fun. Thus infected by piratical ideas I decided I should read this zine. But it's not just about pirates, it's also about burlesque!

When I lived in Vancouver I had a friend who was really into burlesque, and thus I ended up going to a lot of burlesque shows with her. The shows were generally pretty fun, and now that I'm moving back to Vancouver in January for school I'm kind of excited that I'll be able to go again. Plus, they only cost $5 and happened on Sunday evenings. What else was I going to do at that time for that price?

Bottoms Up was made for a pirate themed burlesque show by the, now defunct, Halifax Burlesque Society. For a zine about burlesque there's a surprisingly small amount of pin-up art and photography. It's not entirely absent, there's just less than you might expect. Instead there's a burlesquefesto, rebuttals to anti-burlesque propaganda (apparently people put up posters in Halifax specifically telling people not to go to burlesque shows), a bunch of information about lady pirates and general pirating (including a Marxist examination of pirates), information about STIs (educational!) and more.

Overall I thought this was a pretty neat package featuring two things I enjoyed (pirates and burlesque), plus I really love the long skinny format.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spectacular Times

Compiled and edited by Larry Law
Production by Liz.

While this particular copy of the Spectacular Times probably doesn't count as a zine (it says it's a pocketbook right on the cover!), I feel that the original version might have been (this is a later reprint). And it is the same size as, and covers many of the same topics as, many zines.

This is issue three of the Spectacular Times, and it's made up of press clippings (articles, advertisements, cartoons, etc.) and commentary about them. The subject as a whole is the place of media in our society, its use as propaganda, and the way it puts its own spin onto events.

Coincidentally I just got The Influencing Machine out from the library, and it seems to be taking a much more in-depth look at the same stuff (though from the point of view of someone who's actually part of the media). The value of the Spectacular Times is not really in its commentary on the media, but rather its use as a historical document to see what people thought of the media in 1980, when this was originally published (this is by far the oldest thing I've reviewed on this site, it's older than I am!). However I don't think many people are interested in reading about that sort of thing.

Friday, July 13, 2012


By James Stephen Wright

While the cover of this zine didn't photocopy that well, one awesome thing that you can see is the price: "1 x EGG or 1 x MELON". And while I think an egg and a melon differ a fair bit in value, it still kind of awesome to see things like that. (I fondly remember the day I traded one of my zines for an orange.)

Inside we have weird collages and art, some maze-like drawings, comics that are barely comprehensible, and lots of hard to read text. This zine is strange. There is some cool stuff in here (I enjoyed the page showing various rat dances), and some of the art is pretty good, but overall I just found the whole thing kind of hard to comprehend.

Still, I guess that's what art can be, and whether or not I understand it isn't necessarily the point of the whole thing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sightings of Wallace Sendek

By Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble

When I started reading this comic I thought the pages that the pages were in the wrong order. Each page is dated, and the dates jump around backwards and forward through time. But each page can be taken as an independent whole and this seemingly haphazard order is the one in which Noble wanted this comic to appear (I guess some of the pages could be in the wrong order too, there's no real way for me to tell!). Taken together the pages begin to tell the story of '70s rock musician Wallace Sendek, his disappearance, and his later possible appearances.

Reading it in chronological order (yes, I did bother to do that) leaves me even more confused as all the dates don't seem to match up properly. But this could even be done on purpose, as the entire point of this thing is to make everything mysterious and ambiguous. Was Sendek killed? Was there some supernatural element in his disappearance? Is he still alive? None of these questions is answered, but that's not the point of this comic.

Instead this comic is all about creating an atmosphere and mood of mystery, and it succeeds admirably. (I'm a little jumpy and creeped out right now due to it being 2:30 am, reading this comic multiple times, and reading about Lord Lucan and other people who have disappeared.)

Artwise Azzopardi does a good job, using different styles and techniques on various pages. Some pages are quite sketchy, while others are considerably more detailed, and one even features edited photographs (is there a better term for this than "photoshopped"?). Azzopardi also switches between using solid bordered panels (often using a tight nine-panel grid to fit in the necessary dialogue and narration), and pages where various images meld into each other with no border in the way. Combined these two techniques help to add to the atmosphere of the stories and the events surrounding them, confusing the information and making the reader question what truth there might be in each story.

Overall this is worth checking out, if you're into ambiguous, frustrating works that have no real ending. I want to know who this person was, and what was going on with their disappearance, and hopefully one day, if Azzopardi and Noble decide to release another comic, I'll find out. If I don't though, that's okay too, as this comic has succeeded both in its narrative goals and in being entertaining.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Toasty Cats #6

By Magda Boreysza

Despite the title being what it is, this comic contains no cats, toasty or not. It does contain a number of short comics about other animals, some amazingly awesome drawings of monsters, and even a letters page!

Both of the comics in here are entirely silent, and sort of remind me of Masashi Tanaka's Gon series, if the animals in that acted slightly more like humans, and they were drawn in a less realistic way. Wait, I guess these have nothing in common with Gon, except they're both about animals not interacting with humans in any way. (And they're both good.) My comparison skills appear to be rusty.

I went into the first comic somewhat biased against the small, weird looking mammals with huge mouths and entirely too many teeth that star. Why? Because I have clearly been watching too many sci-fi horror films that feature horrible monsters eating people. Wait, what am I saying? That's clearly not possible, you can't have too many of those.

The dog-like creatures in this are, when they have their mouths closed, pretty cute. They live in some sort of forest society, playing with bugs, sleeping down holes, and mourning their dead. The story itself is pretty much just "nature happens", but it's drawn in a really lovely style that somehow manages to combine lots of small details, with a general cartoony style.

The second story is about a fox's life as it waits for a comet to pass by through the sky again. It is a tale of loss and longing, and kind of makes me sad. But, um, it has really nice art?

Both tales in this issue are good, though I hesitate to look for more, as while I enjoyed reading this comic there's definitely a morose feeling throughout, and I'm not sure I want to read more stories like that.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

You're the Best.....Around!!! #3


I remember when the person who made this zine offered to send me some copies. I was wary to say the least: a zine about kids in sports films? That sounds kind of horrible. I mean, I'd watched my share of them as a child, and while I think I enjoyed them at the time, I have no interest in watching them again as they are probably all terrible.

But style can be everything, and it turns out that I actually really enjoy this zine! The author accepts that these films are predictable, formulaic, and not very good in general, but they still enjoy them. By writing about what is problematic in these films in an amusing and sarcastic manner the author makes reading about the film actually enjoyable!

Combine with interviews with incredibly obscure actors who appear in the films, the most in depth looks at these films probably ever written, recipes (this one has fudge!), and generally humorous asides, and you have a zine that I now actively look forward to reading!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

July is Zine Month!

July is International Zine Month! Hurray!

Zinester Alex Wrekk has posted a list of different things to do every day of the month.

I'll be celebrating by making my next zine, updating this site with reviews again, running some zine making workshops, and probably helping to organize some zine related events at the Roberts Street Social Centre.

What will you be doing?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Zine Fairs! Links!

I'm currently in the process of organizing the Crowd Control Sound and Art Fair, which is part of a larger music festival in Halifax.

There will be lots of zinesters there, and lots of other artists and neat stuff. It's free, so if you're in Halifax you should come and check it out.

It's on June 2nd, from noon - 4:30pm in the Khyber (downtown).

Anyway, here's an article about zines that linked to my blog. It talks about different types of zines, and shows you how to make a simple one. I think the comments are kind of funny, but it's cool to see people excited about making zines.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cerebus the Newsletter #18

Edited by Margaret Liss
PO Box 6997
Warwick, RI

Cerebus was an incredibly long running (300 issues over more than 25 years) indie comic created by Dave Sim and Gerhard that started off as a barbarian parody, but eventually featured a lot of political satire, philosophy, and other stuff (like Groucho Marx). It's an incredibly impressive feat, and what I've read of it has been pretty good.

It's just too bad that Dave Sim went insane.

You might think I'm exaggerating, but people seem to think that he has real mental health issues. His opinions about religion, gender (or more specifically women and their role in society), and philosophy are...controversial to say the least. Despite this he continues to have many ardent supporters, and Cerebus itself is an incredibly impressive work with large sections that are really good.

Cerebus the Newsletter is a fanzine that has come out since the Cerebus comic ended. It features fanart, Cerebus history, letters from readers, essays about various philosophical/mystical aspects of Cerebus, and a discussion segment with Dave Sim called "God Talk".

The discussion is interesting because in it Sim talks about his religious beliefs. Some of it seems kind of reasonable, some of it is kind of gibberish, and some of it is just flat out weird.
"It's only in the last couple of years that I've fully repented: I would have been better off to never have fornicated.
Fornication was a mistake from the first to the last one. I only hope I have enough years left to make amends.
I was in a cesspool up to my eyeballs and I've spent eleven years climbing out of it."
Dave Sim is a weird guy, and he's so tied to his own impressive body of work, that it seems reading about him is almost as important as reading the work itself.


By Kieron Cropper and Jaime Huxtable

Hey, did you know I love monsters? It's true! I do! One of my favourite zines is Monstress, and the first issue of that I ever read was about giant kaiju monsters. Hell, I even wrote part of a fake journalistic article about a fictional Godzilla/Very Hungry Caterpillar crossover film for a zine. I keep wanting to rent the Godzilla and Gamera films I see in the library, but strongly suspect my partner would hate them.

This particular zine was actually an envelope filled with multiple things. There was the comic itself, but also several sheets of origami paper, and a number of sheets of card that included city-scapes.

Beneath the awesome collaged cover there are a few pages of comics featuring Godzilla emerging from the water by a beach in...Brighton? I'm saying Brighton because that's where I got this zine, but I'm really not sure.

Then there are instructions on how to make your own origami Godzilla! Awesome! I'm not the best at origami, but I think it's pretty neat, especially when it's for things like dinosaurs and monsters.

Once you've done that, you can cut out the cities, and reenact your favourite giant monster scenes! Hurray!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Animation: We are zinester!

Uh, I don't really know what this is, or how it came to be in my bookmarks (I have no memory of ever actually seeing it before), but here's a weird Japanese animation thing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Have to Make Your Own.

Once again I return to the question "What is a zine?", for this, while it looks a lot like a zine, probably doesn't count as one.

On the way to a Zimbabwean restaurant for dinner one evening, my partner and I passed an art gallery opening. Hurray! I love art. We headed in and looked at the pieces, and some of them were pretty neat. I sent a fax to some city official complaining about how the (heavily trafficked) path through the park in the middle of town turns into a swamp when it rains.

I also picked up this booklet, which doesn't act as a program for the show (there is no information about the artist, or even anything that says it's part of an art show), but is a collection of fliers.

Each page is made up of a slogan of some sort ("Pay no attention to this.", "Stop making things worse.") in the same block capitals you can see on the "cover". Some of them reminded me of the child from John Allison's Scary-Go-Round comic. (Hey! I reviewed one of his comics on this site once. I wonder what happened to that?)

What's neat, is that each page actually has perforations down the side, so you can tear the pages out easily. How fancy!

I'm not sure if I'd actually put any of these up. I sometimes struggle with destroying printed material, even if that's its intended function. I guess that doesn't stop me turning old comic books into envelopes.

(This is the sort of rambling non-review that makes me wonder why anyone looks at this site at all.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Piltdownlad #2: Women Got Me Drinking

By Kelly Dessaint

There's a website I spend too much time on called Reddit. It acts as a place where people post links about various topics, and comment on them. It is filled both with people embracing and rejecting the myth of the nice guy. You know, the one where if you're best friends with a girl, and never express your romantic interest in her, she'll eventually reveal that she loves you and wants to sleep with you without you ever having to be proactive. (You can probably already tell I think this is stupid.)

Now it's clearly unfair to equate Women Got Me Drinking to this idea entirely. The main character isn't pining after a girl he's known since he was a kid who he thinks he loves. No, instead he's pining after a girl who sits opposite where he works, that he's never talked to, and yet he's completely convinced will be his "inspiration to write".

Which leads us to another cliche, the main character as struggling writer. What does it say about writers that one of their favourite characters to write about is a writer? Are they just using the idea of "write what you know", or are they being incredibly egotistical? Part of me thinks that you can't become a good (or at least well known/published) writer without being at least a bit incredibly egotistical. You have be able to convince others that you can write things for them, and it's unlikely that you'll be able to do that if you're not confident in your own writing skills.

None of this actually tells you _anything_ about this zine in question.

This zine is a (fictional?) account of living in New Orleans at some point after Hurricaine Katrina. The descriptions of poverty, living in shitty parts of town, the people that live there, and how the lower class manage to survive were all interesting, and I'd have much rather read a zine about those things then a story about one person's search for the 100% perfect girl.

Though it says on the cover it's a love story, so I should have known what I was in for from the beginning.

How to Make a Mini-Comic

By Matt Feazell

(Blogger is screwing up and not posting my scheduled posts. They've also stripped the labels/tags off the posts that have gone live. Plus they recently sent out the most spammy/phishing seeming official email I've ever gotten. Great job guys.)

This is a zine printed on a single sheet of paper and shows how you too can make and put together your own minicomics!

While it generally seems well put together, and many aspects are informative, I really take issue with part of Step 2.

"Leave ninjas, superheroes, and giant robots to color comics which specialize in that sort of thing."
I find this frustrating not because I love giant robots and might very well be happy if half of the things I reviewed on this site involved robots in some way, but because saying that you need colour to tell a science fiction or fantasy story is ridiculous.

The Preposterous Adventures of IronHide Tom is a fantastic black and white comic with simple artwork that was nominated for an Eisner Award. This is despite (or because of) the fact that it features pirates, mermaids (and mermen!), witches, and countless monsters. Another comic Priddy drew in the same style was called The Amazing Life of Onion Jack, and which was similarly award nominated, features superheroes and (if I'm remembering correctly) robots. These are both fantastic, entertaining, funny comics that are drawn in black and white with minimal detail (though a considerable amount of skill). Saying that you need colour to make comics featuring science fiction or fantasy elements is almost insulting to those that choose to make comics featuring those things.

But, uhm, back to the zine at hand. Holy shit! This was originally printed in 1988? I can't believe this has been going around for almost 25 years. I hope it has inspired someone to make and print their own comic, whether it contains robots or not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Inbetweens II

By Shriveling Press

I'm of the opinion that art zines live and die on their reproduction.

This isn't to say that an art zine has to be printed in colour on glossy paper, but that the presentation matches the intent of the creator. Sometimes grainy black and white photocopies are the best way to see certain types of art because that's how they're supposed to be seen.

"So," you may be wondering, "does the reproduction on The Inbetweens II portray the art in an effective and attractive way?". The answer is unfortunately "no".

The contents of this zine are mostly reproductions of colour paintings and photographs. And while the actual pieces seem, in some cases, pretty nice, it's hard to say for sure because they're printed in a grainy and blurry way with all the vagaries and limitations of an ink jet printer.

Even the black and white pieces suffer because they seem to have been scanned, and then printed, in colour. Instead of true black and white, they end up being made up of endless dirty browns and greys. While this can be used to good effect in some cases, here it seems more an accident of the process, and not a conscious decision.

I feel a bit bad saying all of this because someone clearly put a lot of care and effort into this zine. It's bound by thread, which even if it doesn't take that much longer than stapling (I actually don't know) certainly seems more personal that the zines I make.

In another format, with a more focused idea of the contents, and better printing, the pieces in here could be a lot more appealing, but as it is I just feel a bit disappointed at what could have been.