Going into Emerald City Comic Con this year, I had one, focused goal: Zines. I never got to write it up, but I spent a lot of last year at panels and, while I enjoyed them, I also constantly felt like I could just be at Artist Alley instead. This year I leaned into that and spent a majority of the weekend there, browsing.
I wanted to focus on zines specifically because they represent some of the most pure, direct, art-for-art’s sake work of comic creators out there. They exist with very little (or in some cases no) overhead, they’re offered in small runs, they primarily tend to focus on a creator’s interests. I admire that kind of work, and I wanted to showcase it. So, here’s Nola’s 2019 Zine Haul:
Flaccid Badger 1, 2, 3
To start things off, we have the absolute mini-est of mini-comics, a trio of books from Cat Farris (My Boyfriend is a Bear) about a badger with apparently zero bone structure. Flaccid Badger’s titular protagonist flops around, landing in a puddle of fur over and over, and travelling to fantastical locations in search of whatever his heart desires. Each book is about 3 inches square, but they’re very cute, with single-panel illustrations per page, much like a children’s book. They’re perfect to read to children too, if you’re so inclined!
The Last Diplomat 1, 2, 3
Cat was offering a lot of deals, so I took her up on them! Her other three book set was another mini-comic. These are collections of her webcomic, The Last Diplomat. They tell the story of Samma and Tark as they travel on a quest to stop a war and avenge both of their people. Farris packed a lot of emotion into this three volumes (the third centers around a later character, named Ixon, whom the pair meet toward the end of volume two), and while the website has the tale on hiatus, I hope she picks it up soon. I’m very invested.
Scarves is the story of a vampire queen who has decided to abdicate her throne and instead spend her time in the middle of nowhere knitting scarves. This sounds like something I should love, but instead of being about that specifically, Becca has to spend her time fighting…gnomes. It’s meant to be funny, but the humor didn’t land for me, despite Bob Q.’s stylish, dynamic art. There’s still a lot of promise, so here’s hoping we see more of his work in the future!
Friction opens with the proclamation “WRESTLING IS GAY” on the inside front cover. It’s an unabashed 18+ story about two wrestlers having some….well, friction during a match. Maniulit’s art is incredible (I commissioned him for a character design last year and it was gorgeous), and even though this isn’t a new zine I snapped it up right away. Highly recommended if you want some of that good gay wrestling content.
I saved Home?for last, because it was easily the most personal of the comics I picked up. It’s Coco Candelario’s autobiographical comic about feeling displaced, both at college and back home afterward. I have a lot of my own struggles with places that should feel like home and don’t, so I identified with a lot of what was on display here. Candelario finishes the zine with a small personal message about writing the story, and I appreciated that kind of personal touch. I really recommend this one.
Indigo is a purely Patreon-funded art zine by Liana Kangas containing a collection of her sketch work. It’s got a bit of design work for other projects, a bit of fan art, and it’s all printed in bright pink ink. That, paired with the blue background of the cover, is a color combo I can get into, and I enjoy the way Kangas displays a range of styles, from thick-lined cartoony illustrations to detailed renditions of things like the Millennium Falcon. It’s a smart collection, and if you want to see what she can do, check it out!
Ely Ancheyta & Kerstin A. La Cross
This is what I mean when I talk about the specific focus of zines. Green Thumbs is a collection of plant illustrations by two artists. Ancheyta is primarily a painter, and La Cross an adventure cartoonist. Rather than collaborate on each image, the pair have split the book between their two styles. The entire zine is full-color, and both artists’ styles pair well together, so each page is full of a nice array of different plants, some captured in fine lines and others in soft brushes. This is, honestly, a very relaxing zine to flip through–I could see keeping this one by a reading chair for those tough days.
Little Corvus & Kris Anka
Street is easily the most on-brand zine for me–a collection of X-Men characters in street-wear. If you follow Little Corvus or Kris Anka on Twitter, you’ve probably seen some of the preview art for this one, and it’s truly gorgeous work in person. Some particular favorites for me are an Emma Frost in a crop-top and ripped jeans and Rachel Grey in a strappy red dress paired with a black, spiky jacket. Everyone here looks effortlessly cool, and I always appreciate this kind of work because it shows off not just the artists’ fashion skills but also some of their specific views on particular characters. Since we always view things in our own unique way, seeing a bit of that lens for these two is a fun treat.
Adora Belles Vol. 4
Nic ter Horst
I haven’t seen the other three volumes of Adora Belles, but volume 4 is a fun treat; a collection of pinups, in sequence and organized by character. Each character gets a bio page at the front of their section listing names and other personal traits, and I have to say that this kind of specific information is good for me and the way my brain works; I was able to connect with each character more, having a general idea of who they were. Nic ter Horst specializes in a cute, cartoony style and makes an effort to show off an array of body types, which instantly endeared me to the work on display here.
Another zine with a bio in it is Becca Farrow’s Metamorphic, a collection of art featuring her and her D&D party’s characters. I always like art of tabletop characters because I love D&D, and seeing Farrow’s tastes, and the choices she makes with her art here, just makes me want to commission her for my next character design. (Becca. Seriously. Let’s talk.) At the front of the zine is a bio of her character, a dwarven paladin named Sherry Blackheart, with a basic backstory and a list of important items and favored skills; enough that you could, conceivably, slot Sherry into a campaign as an NPC. A fun touch!
Julia Reck & Kris Anka
Anka’s second collaboration on this list is with Julia Reck on a book of Overwatch characters in swimwear. I snapped this one up fast, too, despite mostly only caring about Overwatch from afar; I’ve played it some but I’m not huge into it. Reck and Anka are another pair with very complimentary styles, and it’s fun to see the two of them put their personal tastes on display with each character. Just like in the game, Pharah, Ana, and Zarya are my favorites, but the entire collection definitely has me thinking about going for a swim myself.
Sweeter Than Heaven & Hotter Than Hell
Reck’s other zine I couldn’t wait for is a collection named after lyrics from a Florence + The Machine song, and contains entirely NSFW art. Reck moves between a few themes in this one, portraying fantastical creatures, a little bit of soft kink, and queer content throughout. I also really appreciated the cover, printed in black with pink linework detailing some of her art. It’s a striking look for a body of work that, even aside from its very good content, showcases her abilities with anatomy and posing. I really hope we see her on a big project soon!
We All Have Sheep Eyes
I saved this for last because it’s kind of special! We All Have Sheep Eyes is a zine of characters with only mostly sheep eyes, but a few other sheepy traits here and there (I can forgive the false advertising, just this once). As you may or may not know, WWAC has some association with our fine friends the even-toed ungulates through our sister publishing house, Bleating Heart Press. Given that we’re four volumes into Secrets of the Goat People, you can see why this zine was a must-have. Lukehart’s art is expressive and warm, and the sheep traits feel natural on the characters they’re paired with; the entire zine expresses what Lukehart has to say on the back cover. “Sheep are cool.”
Megafauna, Dinosaurs With Weird Names, Convergent Evolution
Speaking of even-toed ungulates (how’s that for a segue), a few of them feature in Megafauna, one of Kory Bing’s three informational zines about animals and evolution. Each zine is printed on risograph and displays two-toned illustrations of animals; Megafauna and Convergent Evolution use that to its best effect by printing the exterior of the animal in one color and overlaying a bone structure in another. It’s science, but stylish! I really loved these; they present simple facts in an accessible way, and they do so with flair. I might buy more copies of each and donate them to my local schools.
Warlock is Proud of You, (Nola)!
This small zine is a black-and-white printing featuring ink drawings of New Mutants’ Warlock paired with supportive dialogue. It’s the perfect thing to read when you’re having a difficult day, and it was bolstered by the fact that Jay Edidin was taking the time to personally ink each person’s name on to the end of the title as they bought one. Mine is for me, specifically! It’s extremely cute, and I’m very fond of everyone’s best self-friend.
Ruby Quartz Panic Room
Also by Jay is this, a zine about my actual favorite X-Man, Cyclops. By Jay’s own words inside, it started as a simple zine of earnest love, but it quickly expanded to include topics of neurodivergence and Jay’s experiences with mental health. Paired with lists of facts about the character are small comics called Hanging Out In Imaginary Bars With Cyclops which are stories where a comic book avatar of Jay (presumably multiversally distinct from the version who appeared in X-Men ‘92,although this has not been confirmed to my knowledge [it’s good to be precise about these kinds of things]) has a drink and a conversation with Cyclops. Some of Jay’s confessions in these small comics are heavy things; most of them rang extremely true for me, but you may wish to read with care, depending on your own personal struggles. The entire zine is bound in red translucent paper, with the title and a molecular pattern printed on the front, and a subtitle with an illustration of Scott Summers on the page beneath, creating quite a striking effect.
Finally, we have Stanley, a zine I bought solely because it’s a collection of love poems by a ghoul. Each page contains an illustration of Stanley, paired with a short poem declaring his love and/or loneliness. It’s an extremely cute thing, this zine, and I bought it on that basis. Stanley’s design is unique; my understanding of ghouls is primarily derived from games I play featuring them, so to have this version, so unconnected to those in both design and aesthetic, was a very nice thing. The drawings ride the line between cute and macabre, which is something you could reasonably guess ahead of time, in a book about ghoulish love poems. A great read!
So that’s it; Nola’s ECCC 2019 zine collection. I actually really enjoyed this little project, and I think I’ll continue it at any other cons I attend. See you next time!