Zine Review: Trophies of the Unseelie Court

Artzine, Stacey Bru,, $4.50

I’m a guy who likes fantasy in theory. In practice, I don’t care to read long multi-part series of novels, I don’t play video games, I don’t play Dungeons and Drag­ons. So how am I to get my fantasy fix? A zine like this one will do the trick.

The conceit of this series of illustra­tions is brilliant: trophies of past battles that now sit in a castle. We are warned that not all the trophies are dead, so it’s best we don’t touch anything. We are then treated with a guided tour of mythical be­ings whose heads have been mounted on the wall. It’s quite funny and wonderful to see the kappa, the troll, the wizard and the faun. While there is a caption for ev­ery trophy, the reader is left to imagine the battles that produced these souvenirs.

The majesty of this work is in providing a space for the imagination to run wild. That being said, I hope Stacey Bru has a chance to illustrate some long-form fan­tasy of her own devise in the near future. Her minimal drawings are evocative without being cheesy (a common trap, in my mind, of illustrating high fantasy). This handmade zine is recommended to any reader who is a fan of whimsy and wonder. (Neal Armstrong)

Zine Review: The Toronto Comic Jam

ZINES_Toronto-Comic-JamComic,,, $3

Curated by Toronto artist Dalton Sharp and featuring a wide range of weirdness from in and around the GTA, the To­ronto Comic Jam is a fine-looking collec­tion of hand-drawn offerings. The TCJ is a monthly event where local artists can swing by and work on interconnected stories or solo works over an evening, and this zine is a really great result of their efforts. Sharp contributes his own comics to this zine, and they deal, in part, with gore and some bodily harm. Other contributions feature a jacked-up Drac­ula, ballet and a toast/toaster role reversal.

There’s a nice continuity in this com­pilation and, although it’s made up of artists far and wide, Sharp and his col­laborators have created a singular work that seems impressively intact. Also, it’s a weird thing to pick up on but a few lo­cal comic and art/book stores advertise in these pages. It makes this collection seem even more legitimate and as a To­ronto native, I felt this really furthered the authentic vibe that Sharp and com­pany seem to be going for. Worth track­ing down. (Cam Gordon)

Indie Events Roundup: July 6 – 12


This Saturday is the first ever Toronto Book Swap at The Central! 

Monday, July 6


Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, 8pm, The Company House, 2202 Gottingen St, $12 advance only

It’s what it sounds like! Which is loads of fun!

Tuesday, July 7


Amber Dawn, Sassafras Lowrey and Alex Butler, 7:30pm, Glad Day Bookshop, 598a Yonge St, free

The launch for books by three queer heroes from across the land!

Mortar Volume 3 Launch, 7:30pm, Free Times Café, 320 College St, PWYC

Common Cause Toronto launches the third volume of their journal of anarchist theory.

Wednesday, July 8

Raconteurs Storytelling: Sports, 7:30pm, Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave, $10

Raconteurs celebrate the Pan Am Games by telling tales of sports and related doings.

The Sophisticated Boom Boom 21, 10pm, The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave, PWYC

Emma Healey headlines this fun monthly reading, which includes an open mic.

Friday, July 10


New Queer Tarot Launch, 7pm, Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, 34 Isabella St, PWYC

The long awaited launch of She Is Sitting in the Night: Revisioning Thea’s Tarot. Oliver Pickle will be reading both book bits and tarot throughout the night.

Saturday, July 11

Toronto Book Swap, 1pm-6pm, The Central 603 Markham St, free

Leave a book, take a book! Or multiply that by 20! The ever-inventive Andrew Woodrow-Butcher (also a Broken Pencil reviewer) has created the much needed book swapping meet up of your dreams. Come leave some good condition, interesting books that you’re done with and find some new ones for your collection. A note: this is not an event to empty out your basement. People dumping large quantities of books will be turned away.

Online Exclusive Fiction: “Hand Wraps” by Dane Swan



Hey there writers! We’re excited to announce that starting this week, we’ll be publishing a monthly online exclusive based upon a theme. Our first piece is “Hand Wraps” by Dane Swan, and you can read it below.

Interested in submitting? Next month’s theme is “The Town and the City.” The chosen story will receive a $40 honorarium, a one-year subscription to Broken Pencil and permanent infamy on the web. Word length is up to 2,000 (although shorter is better.) You can go here to submit (select “Online Exclusive” as the option.) Deadline is July 31, 2015. Good luck!



All these people in this gym. You would think that they would know the basics. Whether it’s the boxercisers, or the fresh meat amateurs, when it’s my time to teach them, I ask them to show me everything.

“Let me see your jab!

Let me see your cross!

Now one-two!




Keep your guard up!

You! You just got hit with a hook ’cause your guard is garbage!

If you punch like that you’ll break your wrists!
Snap those jabs!


And that’s before we put the wraps on. If I don’t know a face I pull them aside. Ask them to show me how they wrap their hands. We sit face-to-face. The ladies here for fitness classes always get it wrong. I take their hands into mine. Slowly unwrap there hands and explain, “Wrapping your knuckles might stop your knuckle from being scratched by the glove, but it doesn’t protect you. We wrap our hands to protect them.”

After unwrapping their mess I explain, “First, we wrap the wrist to protect the wrist.” After pulling the wraps snugly around his wrists twice I continue, “Then we protect each, individual knuckle.” I slowly cross-wrap between each finger. “Finally, we tighten up the thumb, go across the knuckles and wrist.” It should feel tight. The boxer – and we’re using the term lightly here for most of them — should feel like the small bones in their hands are held into place.

I then ask them to wrap their second hand. Most people get it, or just make small mistakes that I immediately fix, but some women like when I hold their hands – what can I say. With everyone’s hands properly wrapped, I ask them to shadow box. Not how they imagine they should shadow box, but how if they got into a fight themselves they would box.

Some of these people. “Seriously, that’s how you’re going to protect yourself?” Others have pretty impressive form. I take my time. Walk around each fighter and make corrections. Every few minutes I cry out, “Always be circling! What are you always doin’?”

“Circling!” They better scream back, if they don’t want to do pushups. There’s a reason why poets use boxing as a metaphor for life. It all starts with the footwork.

Zine Review: Tobacco

ZINES_tobaccoComic, Ben O’Neil,, $7

I’m trying to quit smoking and this com­ic helped. The lack of nicotine is driving me crazy and making me lazy, but it is teaching me an important lesson: life is not so easy and a drug—even a legal over-the-counter remedy like cigarettes — can’t mend your problems. While they may be psychologically helpful, the haz­ardous health effects just aren’t worth it — and that is what this comic taught me.

I had to take a break from writing just now to coughing up some phlegm. It re­minded me a lot of the main character of this comic—a walking ball of tobacco-produced hork. I’m thankful that my cells are not so mutated as to bestow sentient life onto my bodily products, but if I keep up the habit, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if that happened. In this comic it is a logical consequence of tobacco use that a phlegm-ball would grow legs and walk away once spat up. And if a nico­tine-obsessed thug should capture him, tie him up and torture him, flay his flank, roll up and smoke pieces of his skin, that would appear to me a natural side-effect of cigarette psychosis.

This comic is a surreal take on tobac­co, it reads like the dream life of a pack-a-day smoker. It is weird and violent and gross and death-obsessed, but also funny and illustrated in a charming cartoon style. I wasn’t kidding when I said it helped to scare me straight: if it weren’t for this comic I’d still be hacking darts. This zine is more powerful than the patch. (Neal Armstrong)

Zine Review: Smells Like Maturity

ZINES_Smells-Like-MaturityComic, Alex Correa and Khaiam Dar,, $5

Designed to resemble a Castlevania NES cartridge, Alex Correa and Khaiam Dar’s most recent comic book is a strange as­sortment of undergraduate boredom and 1980s nostalgia. Divided into three chap­ters and a handful of “advertisements,” Smells Like Maturity hits its niche square on the head, but is never as funny as it wants to be.

Instead of chapters, Smells Like Matu­rity is divided into unrelated worlds, reminiscent of Super Mario’s world-level format, and allowing Correa and Dar to play with different themes without the chapters stepping on one another’s toes. This is mostly successful, but not always: World I depicts a hallucinating student in videogame paradise, World II depicts a hallucinating illustrator in comic book paradise, and World III depicts a girl who wants her friends to leave so that she can read in private. Each narrative is engag­ing enough, but the final one seems out of place, bound as it is in an NES car­tridge.

More noticeable is the humour, which repeatedly asks the reader to remember the 1980s through a pair of 8-bit rose co­loured glasses, but rarely ventures farther than that. It’s fun to see Game Genie and Tiger Electronics personified, but the vast majority of the humour merely ref­erences nostalgia without developing it in any way.

With the rise of James Rolfe’s “Angry Videogame Nerd” and Youtube networks like Normalboots, there is certainly a de­mand for the reconceptualization of ‘80s gaming culture. Correa and Dar are no doubt acting with these interests in mind, and can be commended under those standards. For someone standing outside of this niche-awareness, though, Smells Like Maturity never achieves what it sets out to do, and all the compounded references can be frustrating as a result. (Joel W. Vaughan)