Bitter Ink is a bitterly comical zine with biting sarcasm and sharp wit from Detroit cousins Brian Zeigler and Raymond “Moose” Jackson. The zine features black and white doodles with accompanying commentary and aphorisms-some silly, some outrageous, and some just straight up funny (“stay ignorant, my boy: stay free”; “Oh no, they don’t got no Robitussin no more!”; “The worst thing about not having feet is no suede shoes”). The first Bitter Ink “No. 1” gives a glimpse into American subculture and encapsulates a slice of the avant garde meets daily life. This zine is brought to you by Press Street publications, a New Orleans based 501c3 literary and visual arts collective community that contributes to gallery space Antenna, arts education, and the Room 220 blog dedicated to New Orleans literature. So check this zine out for an entertaining and unique representation of local literary life, showcasing the intimate relationship between visual and literary art.
The Nez Perce Indians explores the history of the Nimiipuu (“the real people”). This zine brings you past the cigar store caricatures to the Nez Perce Indians’ real human experience, drawing the reader in with 48 illustrated pages by J. Gerlach and illustrator Kate Van Cleve depicting the Nez Perces’ native culture and rebellious movement for autonomous freedom, and the ensuing betrayal, fights for land rights, bravery, and violence. The Nez Perce occupied land what is today Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Learn more about the ramifications of the Manifest Destiny in the 8th installment of the Simple History Series (earlier and later installments cover everything from the Spanish-American War to Hawaii Statehood to Modern Iran). With its narrative prose and intricate illustrations, this zine brings you through the story of an often overlooked tribe set in the beautiful mountain range country of North America.
When I have kids, I am definitely finding them a copy of this coloring book! Each picture comes with a caption that messes with gender stereotypes, as if the pictures don’t do enough. My personal favorite is the picture of the little boy dressed as Wonder Woman with the caption “Not every little boy wants to be Superman when he grows up.” Or the wedding cake with two brides and the caption “Marriage is so gay.” I was so hard to not pull out my colored pencils, but I wanted to save that experience for someone who actually checked this out of the library.
After all the coloring pictures, there is a little gender quiz/survey with questions such as: “What is gender?” “How many genders are there?” “In what ways do you feel confined or restricted by your assigned gender?” “Was the gender assigned to you the one you feel most excited about?” “What are you ideas for gender liberation?” I guess this is sort of the “adult part” for after you’ve finished coloring. These questions definitely make you think, though, especially after coloring.
This short zine, illustrated in shades of blue and gray, is told almost entirely in pictures. This is a comic-style (well, actually more like a children’s picture book) zine only has two lines of dialogue: “Oh, man. I am SO lost.” These words, depicted next to a picture of a scruffy man who is adrift in a raft in the ocean, are the opening lines of the zine. From then on, the man, who is hoping to be saved, is attacked by a shark, losing part of his raft in the battle. He fights the shark back, and the shark is then consumed by a giant squid. It is implied that (in the mind of the shark) the man is the reason for the shark’s death. Once the shark is overtaken, the squid then attempts to eat the scruffy, lost man. The squid doesn’t get far, though; he is beaten up by the man. While the man doesn’t get far in defending himself against the squid, a killer whale comes along and defeats the squid. Like the shark, the squid thinks that the man is the reason for his demise. Finally, the killer whale faces the man, and tries to help him get to safety. Ironically, the killer whale is the nicest animal, but the man thinks that his death is surely imminent. In an attempt to save his life, the man punches the whale in the snout, and the whale (poor whale!) swims off to cry alone. Finally, the man spies a boat and is rescued by a group of men. Telling the men on the boat of his trials, the man soon realizes that his saviors are whale poachers. Feeling badly about the whale, he leads the men in the opposite direction of the animal, and hops off the boat. The whale finds him, and the man and whale swim off into the sunset; happy. I like this zine. And while it took a few read-throughs to really get the narrative (it’s hard, since there are no words, and the pictures aren’t really descriptive enough to make a clear sense of story), it was enjoyable. The illustrations are superb, and it was a fun story to get into.