The focus of a zine can be anything (assuming it has a focus at all): scenes from a life; the intricacies of a particular job; a writer, artist, or tv show of interest. Others can focus on a specific place: I looked at one focusing on ruined spaces around Washington earlier this year, for instance. The zines examined today have a scope that’s a little closer to home: from Manhattan bookstores to art made in Brooklyn, these cast an eye (or a series of eyes) on New York.
Let’s begin with a pair of zines from Alisa Harris. The second issue of her comic Urban Nomad is autobiographical: a long stretch of it references her time working at Shakespeare & Co, while there’s another riff on the golden age costume of Robin. Mainly, though, this is about finding one’s discipline amidst a stifling job.
Her Rock On! is a small zine with short memories and illustrations of New York rock clubs that have since closed. More that a few of these pages — including mention of seeing Atom and His Package at Brownies, and the entire Wetlands entry — summoned up a host of memories for me. And suggested that Harris and I were probably at more than a few of the same shows, back in the (proverbial) day.
The “Winter Solstice Shout-Out” issue of Lower East Side Librarian, by Jenna Freedman chronicles Freedman’s 2012 — from the deaths of those close to her to more quotidian activities. There’s also a long account of her experiences during Sandy (and its aftermath), and the effects of the lengthy power outage to her daily life. Also contained in here: an extensive reading list, touching on everything from comics to horror novels to other zines. Which let me know, among other things, that there’s a zine dedicated to Sherman Alexie. Clearly, I need to seek this out…
Both Harris and Freedman root their zines in both geography and their own perspective. (Though in Freedman’s case, there are occasional guest dispatches scatttered throughout the issue.) The fourth issue of The Bushwick Review takes a more communal approach: here, there is fiction, poetry, comics, and expiments with text, all wrapped in a cover that evokes a low-tech take on flash art. For me, the pieces here that resonated the most were those that featured further explorations of geography: Thom Smith’s report from a historically relevant building devastated by disasters in New Orleans and Kathleen Flood’s account of a trip to Beirut.