Monday, May 28, 2018

10 Years

By William Mark Sommer
Description:48 pages, 8½ x 5½ inches, Printed, side staple binding
10 Years is a photozine with no text beyond a title page and a small copyright notice on the back. The photos center on a small group of skate borders in what is presumably Southern California. The imagery here is a first rate collection of color and monochrome photographs often "collaged" onto the page. All the photos in this zine, both posed and candid, have a raw honesty and undeniable authenticity that engage the viewer instantly. The mood of the photos is generally one of warm nostalgia for a time and place that will translate to even non-skaters. Sommer has tapped into universal appeal.

My only complaint is one I have lodged before. I wish I could be allowed a little context for the images. Any context really. Even a line or two about which 10 years the title refers would be nice. Alas, Sommer wanted his work to speak for itself so I will try to be satisfied with images themselves.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Topanga Beach Experience 1960s-70s

By Paul Lovas (as told by Pablo Capra)
Publisher: Brass Tacks Press
Description:66 xeroxed pages, 5½ x 8½ inches, Black ink on white paper, side staple binding
This excellent zine is an oral history of the now defunked Topanga Beach community. The beach is still there but no one is allowed to live on it.
The book gives wonderful look into a special time and place in West Coast history. The stories are told in short installments that sometimes link together.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Mark's Demise

By Mark Peril
Description:14 pages, 8½ x 5½ inches, xeroxed white paper, side staple binding

Mark's Demise is both a perzine and photozine. This issue has photos from several US cities so Mark must travel quite a bit while taking his documentary/street photography style photographs. He's good, with a creative eye and a straight forward style. The photos are reproduced via xerox, but the quality is high enough that I didn't feel slighted.

This zine also features a cartoon and a few pages of a rant by a much abused indy rock musician on a hellish tour schedule. While I like both of these features, I was left wanting for more of Mark's photos. Yes, wanting more can be a good thing and I understand publishing only your best work, but I feel that Mark's Demise would only be improved with the addition of a few extra pages of photography.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Out of the Habit / What We Thought We Saw

By Peter and Maria Hoey
Publisher: Coin Op Books
Copyright: 2013,
Description:50 pages, 5½ x 3; inches, black & white, book binding

This flip book contains two different animations (depending on which side you start). The book is professionally printed and bound. Maria's What We Thought We Saw is a photo collage with text and pictures where Pete's Out of the Habit is an illustration based animated cartoon. I have to say that Out of the Habit really sold the book to me. It is meticulously well done with a very nostalgic animation style that collectors will like.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Calton Hill

By Craig Atkinson
Publisher: Café Royal Books
Copyright: 2010, Craig Atkinson & Café Royal Books
Description:24 pages, 5½ x 8; inches, black & white, side staple binding

This photography zine is all about high contrast black and white images. There is no text outside of the copyright notice.

The book is well made. Many of the stark images are spread across the fold. (Anyone who has ever made their own zine knows how difficult it is to get a double spread to line up.) I assume that Mr. Atkinson works with film as the images of Europe that fill this zine share a strong yet bleak aesthetic, and loads of dust on their negatives.

I do like the photography, and as a picture book, I feel Calton Hill is a success. However, a little more information about the images and artist would make it more enjoyable.

Dear, Rock 'n' Roll...

By Luna Blue
Publisher: Luna Blue Art Collective
Copyright: no info
Description: 48 pages, 4¼ x 5½ inches, black & white, side staple binding

I got this awesome comic zine at last year's LA Zine Fest. It's really well drawn and written. While the printing is good the side staple binding seems to be a the limit as far as the number of pages it can hold. At the limit -- but not over -- so all is well. The story is literally a love letter to early rock and roll heroes. The letters from special guest stars contained in the story are the real star of this excellent little zine.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Catalog for "Pics by Derf the 1980's"

Photos by Derf Smurthwaite, Text by Mark Waters, Edited by Chris Johanson
Publisher: Circle-A Skate Shop
Description:32 pages, 8½ x 5½ inches, black & white, side staple binding

This zine is a catalog for an art exhibition of Derf Smuthwaite's photography. The one page of text explains that Derf took the photos for fun and with no great documentary ambitions. The book is nicely printed and since I suspect that not all the images were perfectly exposed in the first place, the occasional image quality problem is forgivable. The photos are artfully done and the images well curated. Some of them are double page spreads. I paid only $4 for my copy and it is well worth it for the peek into 1980s San Jose skate culture.