This is my third year participating The ArtClash! Collective’s Annual Fun-A-Day Project. Everyday in January, I’ll be reading a zine (of course), and writing about them in a weekly blog entry. I’m not usually very good at daily projects & goals, and haven’t been able to keep up with even seemingly small, simple projects like sending a postcard-a-day, or just taking my fucking meds. I do, however, love trying. So I’m trying to keep it pretty simple, and I’ll try not to feel too disappointed if I give up before the end of the month.
So, this is Fun-A-Day Monday #1!
Let me let you in on a not-so-secret: I ignored Cometbus zine for my first decade of zine-involvement. Yep. There were several reasons: a) it seemed like there were a million issues and I didn’t know where to begin so I didn’t begin at all, b) I didn’t (and still don’t) read a lot of zines or books or anything by cis dudes, and c) for all the good things I’d heard about Cometbus, I’d also heard a lot of (good, feminist) critique, that made me feel like I wouldn’t like the zine anyway.
The first issue I read was #54, the one where Aaron Cometbus hangs out with his old friends in Green Day on their Asian tour. I picked it up at Quimby’s in Chicago, IL. When I was a kid, one of the first cassettes I was given was Green Day’s Dookie; I’d been thinking about that album and feeling nostalgic (I soon thereafter bought it again, after not having heard it in, like, nearly fifteen years or something. I still love it!). I read the zine on my porch in the sun, and didn’t hate it. Later, I got Add Toner: A Cometbus Collection from Wooden Shoe in Philly, PA. The pages aren’t numbered, but I’m guessing it contains 300+ pages, and includes issues 45, 46, 46 ½, 47, and 48, plus a collection of stories, 8 Out of 10 Days, previously published in different forms of earlier issues, and also a bunch of stories and “behind-the-scenes”-type stuff of what was going on as he made certain issues, why he wrote them, blah blah, which are parts of zine collections that I really enjoy; I had to resist writing book-length explanations of some of my zines when I made my anthology (to tell you what had really been going on at the time, rather than just what I had felt able to share at the time).
When people ask me what Cometbus is about, my answer is usually some varying form of, “Um, like, cliché punk rock tales, I guess, but good ones?” This book is crammed with stories of coffeeshops, copy shops, all-nighters, squats, relationships, shows, etc., but/and it’s really good. I think it’s hard to write those kinds of stories without sounding like, “I did this and then I did this and blah blah”; Aaron is good at not just telling stories, but capturing moods and motivations and making you wish you were there. There’s a part where he talks about not wanting to die young, but wanting to grow up and be an older eccentric punk, and I liked that part because, yeah, me too. Cometbus makes me wanna write and makes me wanna live, and that’s probably the best thing a zine or a book or any piece of writing could ever make me feel.
“It wasn’t exactly solitude which I loved best, but just a sense of being by myself. More often than not, my private time was spent in public. I liked to be around people or places where I could feel their presence, places that felt “lived in.” Empty streets, doorways, cafés, abandoned buildings, busy bustling avenues, buses, and BART. Riding public transportation, walking the hills, skating around, exploring or just sitting on the rocks on the waterfront. Keeping myself open to new ideas and approachable to new people. But most of the time, keeping silent.”
Next up, I read issues 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Deafula zine. I love reading/ writing/ listening/ talking about communication! Kerri writes about being deaf. She writes about Deaf community and culture, and talks about the differences between identifying as capital-D Deaf and lower-case-d deaf. She talks about various methods of communication, including ASL, lip-reading, writing, and texting, and shares ideas for how to communicate with deaf people (and how not to!). Kerri notes that she hates parties (me too!) and prefers to hang out in small groups and have one-on-one conversations (me too!).
In the first issue, she wonders what kind of person she’d be if she contacted scarlet fever as a child, which led to her gradual deafness. Would she be more popular, outgoing, and social?
“I love being myself and wouldn’t change it for anything, and I wouldn’t take back getting scarlet fever. But, sometimes it was hard. And because it was hard, that shaped who I am today. And now that I’m an adult in charge of my own happiness, I try to do my best to keep myself in situations that make me happy (smaller intimate ones with people who understand me) and out of ones that make me unhappy.”
In later issues, Kerri talks about the fucked up disability and health care systems in the United States, and the difficulty of getting hired by someone when they know you’re deaf. She also talks about all the awesome stuff you’re missing out on if you’re not deaf (one of my favourite parts!). I need to write her a letter!
The last zine I read for the first week of Fun-A-Day was Mend My Dress #9.4 by Neelybat Chestnut. Subtitled, they were all my friends, and they died, this newletter-style zine documents Neely’s feelings about death, which she especially thinks about in Winter. She writes about friends who have died, planning her funeral as a child, thoughts about her own suicide, and plans to get a DO NOT RESUSCITATE tattoo. She writes about what she wants to happen with her body when she dies, and being a nice ghost.
Neely’s zines are among my favourites because she writes about difficult things with a mix of both delicacy and anger, and reading her zines feels like getting a really good letter in the mail, or having a really good conversation with a friend at a slumber party.
“if a party is thrown, please do it in my house, if at all possible, while my body is still in the home. everything i own will be a huge free pile. other than these small things, i don’t really care. just don’t let me haunt you.”
P.S.: Don’t forget to read & share Self-Care for Zinesters (especially with so many zine events coming up)!
P.P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!