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)

Calls for Submissions


Call for Submissions: Fatass Cutie

A comix/art comp zine about being fat in this world. The poster above (from tumblr) says it all. Submit by August 1st!

Call for Submissions: Theory Boner Zine Manifesto Issue

Exploring and celebrating intersections of feminist queer and anti-racist theory and creative practice uniting in creative ways to manifest our mutual rejection of the white-supremacist-settler capitalist and heterosexist patriarchy. This is a call for multi-voiced manifestos that incite intentional feminist, queer and anti-racist contemplation about the processes of being here, surviving now, and resisting together. We are in a time when slut walks, flawless talks, pussy riots and black lives matter generate new perspectives and performances. In this climate the measures of domination change, negotiating majority culture changes, and sustaining resistance to and optimism against the white-hetero- patriarchy changes. Theory Boner wants artists and academics to come together and consider our various climates of change through either written or visual work we want your feminist manifesto. Deadline was June 30, but I bet you could get away with a late submission of 250-500 words to

Call for Entries: Helen Schaible International Shakesperean/Petrarchan Sonnet Contest

Submit one entry of one of the aforementioned sonnet styles, original and unpublished. Cash prizes!

Call for Submissions: Now What?

Now that we’ve got marriage equality in the USA, what’s next? All opinions, rants, esasys, poems, narratives, bits, pieces are welcome. Submissions of all kinds should be sent to

Zine Review: Slo-Skate #10

Dani, Julieta, Tiffany, Andy, Zach B., Patrick, Panda, Josh, Hannah, Kyle, Cassidy, Jacob, Mike, Skittlez Gunn, Meagan, Harper, Jay, Peter, Felicia, Kieran, Javier, Zach M., Marco, Dray, Claudine and Nicole,,, $2

What happens when you take a group of alternative high school students and have them collaborate on a zine? Slo-Skate is a product of the alternative program of the Oasis Skateboard Factory, which, among other projects, connects students to the wider community by teaching them how to design and produce skateboards.

The Oasis kids gush about topics most dear to their heart: skateboards, advertis­ing, rave culture, graffiti, Japanese fash­ion, and drugs. Sometimes it’s fresh to hear youthful passion put into its own words. The blue splatter paint on the cover was a nice touch. I even learned something about the history of skate­board wheels and the nickname of the artist who draws the “Instagram this!” birds on Toronto city walls.

However, there are some kinks to be worked out. For example, the piece on skateboards versus longboards does not actually do a good job of defining either. Another article drops off abruptly and then continues dozens of pages later due to a pagination error. Get it together, people! While Slo-Skate #10 is scrappy around the edges there is some pretty decent talent here as well. Three cheers. (Chris Landry)

Zine Review: She Wants To Tell Me

Comic, Laura Kenins,, $8

Monta finds a human ear on the ground in a park in Latvia and Daina stops to ask if she’s okay. This is the unusual start to what seems at first like an unusual rela­tionship. But it’s not. They’re friends; Monta struggles with her identity; they slowly become more than friends; it ends; and there’s an awkward encounter some time after the fact. “Don’t get in­volved with her,” Monta warns her friend after Daina leaves them alone.

The illustrations are intense coloured-pencil panels that reminded me a bit of some of Lisa Hanawalt’s work, but without the anthropomorphic birds. I liked how ambiguous and weird Monta and Daina’s relationship was, and how there was no tidy closure when it was over. They’re both scared and unsure of themselves, and there’s no great revelation at the end. It’s a bunch of stuff that happened, and feels very real that way. (Mary Green)