“Dimly Lit Thinking Cap”

review by BK Munn
Just what is it that makes today’s zines so different, so appealing?
Had a nice chat with zine-king, cartoonist and international collage phenomenon Marc Bell on New Year’s Day and he passed along his two latest offerings. The Senior Set, subtitled “A Drawing Booklet by Old People That Nobody Cares About,” is a collection of collaborative drawings by Bell and Vancouver artist Owen Plummer on the theme of old school zine technology (glue sticks, long staplers) and includes visits from senior citizen friends like “Senior Tired of Drawing Unit” (the bearded ancient-one who uses a magical “drawing cane”) and “Thee Old Kinko’s Ghost” (known to spout word balloons full of helpful platitudes like, “you should send your new zine to Broken Pencil!”). I think some of the drawings here (or parts of some of the drawings?) date back several years and have been dusted off, completed/enhanced, and compiled into this handsome photocopied edition that you can either add to your collection of zine masterpieces or save to wipe the drool from your toothless mouth after you reach retirement age.
Tired of Drawing Books picks up the theme of aging (or is it tiredness?) and spreads it among a larger group of collaborators including Peter Thompson, Billy Bert Young, Mehdi Hercberg, Amy Lockhart, Michael DeForge, Patrick Kyle, Keith Jones, and the afore-mentioned Owen Plummer –as Mad Magazine would say, the usual gang of idiots. Although the phrase “eclipsed by ‘the kids'” appears on the cover, this collection of drawings is less concerned with generational issues and more with the patented Bell-style stream-of-consciousness mash-ups and goofs, stirring a few younger artists into the mix.
What makes these zines so appealing? Besides seeing the results of artistic socializing and unfettered creativity? Look at the cover to Tired of Drawing Books above. Bold lines, shanty-town textures, weird architectural compositions, those perfect clusters of non sequiturs, neologisms, and stoopid-smart observations. It’s a friggin werk of aht.
Printed in editions of 50 each, both books are available for $4.00 a piece through Bell at his Etsy store. The store is also chock-full of past offerings like Marc Connery’s Melamine Car Bomb, the Nog a Dod anthology, and old copies of Bell’s Mojo Action Companion Unit. Snap ’em up before more people from France beat you to it!