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Zine Review: Kill Your TV

Kill Your TV
Zine, Wrrrtika, 12 pgs., wrrrtika.tumblr.com, $5

ZINES_Kill Your TV (wrrtika J Barton)

 

Listen, I enjoy television as much as the next chump, but I think you, me and the Toronto-based musician and glitch artist Wrrtika all know it’s time to Office Space that sucker with a baseball bat, or another bludgeoning device. Dark times call for dark measures – and from here in my American home (aka Trumpland), I can tell you things are the darkest they’ve ever been. TV is at least 50% responsible for getting me and the rest of your neighbors to the south into this mess (BTW: the other 50% is racism). So, Canada, learn from our mistakes and from Wrrrtika’s wisdom: put a hockey stick through that LCD screen and never look back. Wrrrtika only needs 12 pages to make a convincing case, each packed with black-and-white glitched-out first-person support from trusted sources like Dirty Harry, “Mr. Jim Business” and “Donatella Discotheque” (“I murdered my TV [and] it’s been a great help to my modelling career …”). Wrrrtika’s critical statistics make a data-driven argument as well: “In 2015 Death By TV was: 53% more likely than Death By Shark.” WHAT? Never mind that the peppering of celebrity endorsements cut-and-pasted from other publications with random redactions in their accounts. They’re all saying the same thing: your TV must die.

Go ahead and laugh – it’s a funny zine – but when you’re done laughing, shed a tear for America. We’ll just be down here suffering under the new fascist state run by a reality TV star basking in the glow of his own reflection beaming from a million American TVs, because we didn’t act quick enough. Don’t be next, Canada. Kill. Your. TV. P.S. Wrrrtika: Next up, can we get a Kill Your Smart Phone? (Joshua Barton)

Making and smashing the Trump piñata: a how-to guide

TRUMP PINATA 2 Cory is a zinemaker and printing press operator from Omaha, NE who helped make a Trump piñata filled with zines for an afterparty Omaha Zine Fest in March of 2016. They told us how they did it over email. You can follow them on Twitter @circled_a.

During the primary election, when Trump was addressing his most inflammatory rhetoric and when many people were still considering him merely a scarecrow, I had seen Vines of kids beating on Trump piñatas at birthday parties and thought it was a great way to bring some fun into political dissent.

It took about 16 hours total to make the piñata. I didn’t make it, but I worked with the brother of the artist and she used heavy duty cardboard we salvaged from our warehouse job along with colorful tissue paper and paint. She is truly talented and deserves all the credit for the art, but she requested I not use her name because of her undocumented immigration status.

The zines inside the piñata were all themed on resistance and were provided by Any Means Necessary collective from Kansas City, Missouri, an anarchist front involved with many projects in that area. They provided zines on the Ferguson Rebellion; the woman-led Kurdish Rojava fighters and the ideological leader of Kurdish resistance, Abdullah Öcalan’s book Democratic Confederalism; there was a copy of Queer Ultraviolence: A Bash Back! anthology; an issue of Black Seed, which is an ecological journal from an anarchist perspective; Accomplices Not Allies and indigenous peoples call for “accomplices” who attack colonial structures and ideals and who are realized through mutual consent and trust.TRUMP PINATA 1

The piñata smashing was at the afterparty for the 2016 Omaha Zine Fest. It was a dance party in a DIY space in Omaha managed by women and at the time, there was a pirate radio station in residency called Bomb Shelter Radio. The piñata was so well made that I didn’t want to see it smashed but it felt good to see a group of artists, queers, musicians and zinesters cheer on the public beating of a Trump effigy.

This year, we’re going to build a bigger Trump piñata. It will be tremendous. I mean it folks, you’ll love this piñata. It is simply yuge and I tell you what folks, we are going to give that Trump a bigly beating.

 

Aaron Lange’s “Huge”: A Grotesque and Cathartic Anti-Political Comic

HUGE PAGE 22

by Alison Lang

It’s hard to think of the right adjective to describe the work of Philadelphia-based alt-comics legend Aaron Lange. Words like “pornographic,” “ribald” and “transgressive” come close but feel insufficient when one looks at Lange’s art, which pushes up so furiously and fearlessly against social and cultural boundaries until they burst apart, oozing all kinds of unimaginable fluids. Following the presidential election results, Lange spent the day in bed and then went downstairs and began to draw. The result is HUGE, a published sketchbook of Trump artwork, and it’s a nightmarish, grotesque, disgusting, hilarious and darkly cathartic tour-de-force. We asked Lange a few questions about the comic over email.

BP: I think a lot of Trump parody art needs to step up its game to reflect the gravity of the situation . HUGE definitely does this really well and reflects so much of the vitriol in my own heart. What was the process like as you began to draw? Did these ideas just pour out of you or did you have to think about them for a bit? 

Donald Trump is not funny and he never was. He makes a vulgarian like Howard Stern seem erudite by comparison. Trump is a bully with a potty mouth, not a clever class clown. The weak tea we are served from newspaper cartoons, Saturday Night Live, even internet memes, none seemed to be addressing the sheer obscenity of the man and his anti-movement. The hardest bleakest satire seemed, to me, the only response. I think there is a similar sentiment and style expressed in the novel American Psycho. Of course, Donald Trump comes from the same disgusting world as the fictional Patrick Bateman. My illustrations are to “political cartoons” what Hieronymus Bosch is to religious painting.

HUGE PAGE 18Has the production of the comic offered any sort of catharsis, or not really?

 Yeah, attacking Trump and his lazy followers who are so easily bamboozled and hoodwinked… it’s not my idea of a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I’d much rather be researching the esoteric corners of the Cleveland punk scene in the 70s. But I felt a duty to respond, no matter how humble my efforts. I wanted a record of it, like Otto Dix’s revulsion towards the decadence of the Weimar years. In the past I’ve toyed with political images and rhetoric in an ironic and sarcastic way that could possibly confuse readers and obfuscate my leftist leanings. In this matter I wanted my feelings known and made clear in very certain terms. Making the work was cathartic for me, very much so initially. As I posted the pieces on social media I received a lot of feedback from people asking me to “keep it up”. It was clear I was providing a very needed outlet for their own disappointment and wretched disbelief.

It’s interesting that while the drawings in HUGE are horrifying and monstrous, the quotes that accompany them – so many actual quotes from Trump and his team – are the truly monstrous things here. How did these real quotes influence and interact with your sketches?

 The drawing with the barrage of real-deal Trump quotes is probably the closest I got to conventional “political cartooning”. I can actually imagine a version of that in a newspaper. I’m a comic book artist, so I like the interplay between text and image. It gives the reader/viewer something concrete to latch onto. Including text of Trump quotes struck me as an obvious choice. Not much editorializing was necessary. His mouth is a sewer spewing shit. At least Hitler read Spengler, listened to Wagner, painted, had ideas and a vision. Trump is hollow and soulless. He believes only in money and his own vanity.

You can buy HUGE at thecomixcompany.ecrater.com. (Alison Lang)

Comic: Babcia, a papercut story

babcia-in-colour

 

Marta Chudolinska (pronounced who-doh-lean-ska) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto.

Book Review: Centring the Margins

marginscover
Centring the Margins:
Essays and ReviewsJeff Bursey, 189 Pages, Zero Books, zero-books.net

As Jeff Bursey contends, we are endlessly taught that, “[l]iterature contains singular imagery, the perfect word lodged in its perfect spot, rounded characters, believable settings, a confident narrative (if not a confident narrator).” The stuffy English Lit cannon morphed into a similarly narrow mainstream publishing consensus. As a result, alternative styles of writing, which are for Bursey innovative, are tarred with the warning term, “experimental.”

Bursey’s crusade can be a smidge too present, yet often it is framed in an eye-opening way, such as when he notes that for typical critical writing, “[t]he excitement will be intellectual, but won’t commit someone’s blood and soul to the works, which [William] Vollmann, with Steinbeck in mind, has written from the fibre of his being, as used to be said before the author supposedly disappeared.” Here Bursey reminds us that there isn’t only one way to write and that readers may be rewarded for delving into the unfamiliar. The strength of this collection is that it drives us to seek out neglected voices, even if it means having to read an occasional paragraph twice before we get it. Bursey inspires us to seek out important writing instead of settling for the typical and easy to digest.

If there is a weakness, aside from some unclear sentences, it is that a wide variety of works are looked at through a personal lens informed by an ironically narrow spectrum of writers. For instance, Bursey compares all sorts of people to Henry Miller, Miller representing his literary awakening. Other favoured reference points are Pynchon, the Powys’, Dos Passos – and all sorts of stories are referred to as Oulipian. On the other hand, the wide variety of matter covered made a consistent measuring stick a welcome tool. (Norman Feliks)

Zine Review: You Still Need a Coffin

zines_you-still-need-a-coffin-chris-landry

You Still Need a Coffin
Zine, Shivaun Hoad, twitter.com/shivaunish, $5

This zine blends the genre of the how-to guide and the personal memoir and tells you exactly what to expect when someone in your life buys the big one. Writer Shivaun Hoad, who comes off pretty composed, describes just such a situation when her uncle died, beginning from the 3am phone call from the Toronto Police to the scattering of his ashes days later. The cover of this one-pager (slit down the middle and folded into an 8-page mini zine) reads “I’m not an expert but I cremated somebody once.” While there is a lot of useful information in this tiny zine, what stuck with me were the idiosyncrasies: the cab driver inexplicably dropping Hoad off at the arthritis care clinic instead of the cardiac centre at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, her agreeing to see the body even though she didn’t want to (“because it seems heartless to say no”), and how mourners are legally required to purchase a casket for their loved one to be cremated in (no, you cannot use a coffee tin like in The Big Lebowski). When Shivaun asks if her uncle was in pain when he passed, the doctor gives an evasive answer, simply stating that he arrived lucid and quickly fell unconscious. “They must have a class on this at med school,” she muses.

I put the zine down and asked my partner Ruby, who is a med student: “Did you have a class about giving soft pedaled answers regarding painful deaths to make the family feel better?” “Maybe a lecture,” she said.

The zine folds out into a checklist and provides resources that anyone will find useful in such unfortunate circumstances. Humorous but honest, direct and organized, and visually spare (no pretty pictures of flowers or praying hands like in some awful funeral pamphlet) this is a superb use of the medium. (Chris Landry)