Zine Review: Abstract Door #6/Let it Sink #9

The Abstract Door cover side of the zine. Image courtesy Vicky Lim.Abstract Door #6: Gargoyles & Garbage/Let it Sink #9: The Tears of Jim Joyce

Jim Joyce and Vicky Lim

Anything could be behind a door. I assume this is why my cat is fascinated by closed-off rooms, but for Vicky Lim, doors are an opportunity for both a writer and a reader to open themselves up. Each zine in her series Abstract Door bears the image of a door that exists in real life—usually in Chicago—but that, when opened, reveals her fascinating mind.

Abstract Door #6 is a split zine made in conjunction with Jim Joyce, the zinester behind Let it Sink, so the small, folded papers can be flipped and read starting at either side. The two stories meet in the middle with an image that I will not spoil, but that is very endearing and contains its own brief story. This tiny zine is missing from your life. Let me convince you why.

The Let it Sink cover side of the zine. Image courtesy Vicky Lim.Let it Sink #9: The Tears of Jim Joyce

In the intro to his piece of the zine, Joyce says the title of issue #9 comes from a dream of Lim’s, in which she saw a book titled The Tears of Jim Joyce. However, there are no tears in Joyce’s half of the split; instead, he describes a series of seemingly unconnected incidents in which he experienced some kind of worry. I actually read Joyce’s piece twice, because the first time though I felt lost in this series of stories. They were still enjoyable; I felt as if I was following Joyce as he puttered through his day, going to séances and attempting to store memories in toothpaste; however, during the second read-through I saw an undercurrent of anxiety surrounding masculinity.

What does it mean to be a man with a truck, to be man “enough,” to sit at a table with friends and listen to them judging other men’s masculinity while you anxiously question your own? Joyce pulls his readers into these uncomfortable moments and makes them ponder these questions along with him. The psychological discomfort of the piece is an interesting companion to Lim’s dark, humorous horror story; Joyce dove inside himself, but Lim resurrected a ghost from awful work history’s past.

Abstract Door #6: Gargoyles and Garbage

I heard Lim read an as-yet unpublished piece at Chicago Zine Fest, and she also gave me both Abstract Door #1 in addition to #6. While that’s not a terribly huge survey of her work, each piece is consistently humorous and boldly real. In “Gargoyles and Garbage,” Lim plays with the idea that Human Resources departments are less about being a resource for humans and more about treating humans as resources. She paints a picture of a woman named HR who drains her employees and boots them out when they reach retirement age, regardless of their needs or wishes.

The tale is bitingly funny but terrifyingly real; Lim draws from the realities of age discrimination and gender inequality to craft a horror story that will chill you not because of its fantastic nature, but because so many of us are subject to an oppressive employment system. Her prose is gorgeous, and everything from the descriptions of the gargoyle to the details of HR’s personal life is perfectly vivid and biting. Joyce and Lim released this zine on the same night that they premiered their short film Night of the Blood Zine, and Lim’s vibrant descriptions convinced me that her visual art must be great.

To see if Abstract Door #6/Let it Sink #9 is available at your neighborhood distro, check out this list on Lim’s website. It’s also available online through Antiquated Furniture. Back issues of Abstract Door can be purchased from Fight Boredom Distro in Montreal, or email Vicky Lim directly for copies!

Alenka Figa

Alenka Figa

Alenka is a queer librarian and intense cat parent. They spends their days reading zines and indie comics, and twittering about D&D podcasts @alenkafiga.