Elevate Difference

Reviews of Microcosm Publishing

Nine Gallons #2: True Stories by Susie Cagle

In Nine Gallons #2: True Stories by Susie Cagle, writer and artist Susie Cagle recounts her experiences with Food Not Bombs. For those unfamiliar, Food Not Bombs is a "franchise activist non-organization dedicated to fighting hunger with vegetarian meals comprised mainly from wasted food.” Food Not Bombs chapters are all over the world, though predominantly in major cities. Though this publication is small, Cagle covers a lot of ground. You learn that it’s not easy being involved with the non-organization.

Rad Dad #18: Sex & Love

After a promising introduction I was ready to absorb the essays that lay before me in Rad Dad #18: Sex & Love, a short zine concerning radical parenting with narratives exploring issues of sex and love. Needless to say, this zine made me feel a range of emotions: offended, entertained, informed, and bored. Some of these essays do not concern love or sex or are only very loosely related to the topics in an abstract way. Rad Dad himself falls flat in his own personal essay.

Bipedal, By Pedal! #2: Confidential Mad Libs

Because it’s been about ten years, I forgot how funny mad libs could be, and the ones in Bipedal, By Pedal! #2 have proven to be a fun distraction during lunch breaks and in long grocery store lines. Take, for example, my mad lib from this morning: “On Wednesday, September 29th at 17:30 hours, the so-called 'bananas' are planning a bicycle rally in downtown Portland. From information supplied by C.I.D., their plans...were to gather coffees in the South Park Blocks, group into formations of twelve riders...and gyrate along a predetermined path.” Okay, it’s not the most mature form of entertainment, but that’s a large part of its appeal.

The Book Bindery

I just read a wonderful interview with the great poet Martin Espada, in which he talks about the beauty found in writing on all kinds of subjects. Espada himself has worked as a bouncer, a gas station attendant, and everything in between. His words immediately rang in my mind as I sat and devoured Sarah Royal's anecdotes on working in an actual book bindery in an industrial section of Chicago.

Zinester's Guide to New York City

I love Ayun Halliday's writing voice. It balances a small, healthy dose of making fun of oneself with a snarky and sassy perspective of the world. Her world is New York City, which she describes so well in her adventures with her husband and kids in her zine, The East Village Inky. So I knew I was in for a treat when I saw that Ms.

Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas

I was initially unimpressed by Firebrands, but that was because I approached it wrong. I tried to sit down in my living room and read it cover-to-cover, and that's not what this book is for.

If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk: Fifteen Years Of Plan-It X Records

If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk is a sweet, well put together documentary film that captures the spirit and feel of the do-it-yourself, underground punk scene that has grown up around Plan-it X Records in Bloomington, Indiana. The film began as part of a filmmaking workshop at Plan-it X’s weeklong festival in Bloomington in 2006.

How to Make Soap Without Burning Your Face Off

The ever-present danger of burning one’s face off is, in fact, one of the reasons I have hesitated to take up the hobby of soap making. Raleigh Briggs’s How to Make Soap zine helped to make the process seem less daunting and intimidating. While the zine is relatively short, at ten pages, it is chalk full of useful tips and information for beginners. The overall tone is lighthearted and fun, with a sprinkling of sarcasm and a wee bit of sass. Briggs does a wonderful job maintaining the cheery air, yet is still able to stress the importance of following all safety precautions and explaining some potential dangers of working with lye. Lye is a key ingredient in soap making, and if not handled with respect and caution, can be quite harmful.

The Curious Case of the Communist Jell-O Box: The Execution of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg

What could possibly be the connection between imitation raspberry Jell-O, communism, and the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg? I was intrigued. After all, what self-respecting leftist would not be interested in the case of the Rosenbergs, who at the height of the Red Scare were convicted of smuggling secrets to the Russians?

Scam: The First Four Issues!

Is it punk to drink when you’re flat broke? Is selling plasma or sniffing glue revolutionary? Is throwing shit off a Macy’s rooftop ever cool? Nearly twenty years after his zine was released in a series of diatribes about scamming the system and living on the edge of society, Erick Lyle’s writings as zinester Iggy Scam have been edited and bound for the masses.

Sick: A Compilation Zine on Physical Illness

It surrounds us. No matter how difficult, awkward, or painful, we will inevitably come into contact with it. But despite its ubiquity, physical illness continues to be one of the most challenging subjects for people to broach. Sick is a compilation zine on physical illness that offers up the experiences and perspectives of individuals living with illness.

Make A Zine!: When Words and Graphics Collide!

Remember when self-publishing didn't mean having a blog? Remember when you spent time proofreading your random scraps of writing and rearranging clips, when you felt like you had time with your work instead of longing for the compulsive, furtive click of the "publish" button? In a time when ubiquitous technology is rapidly replacing print media as we’ve known it, spending six months on a themed booklet of your own musings might seem odd.

I Hate This Part of Texas #7/Keep Loving Keep Fighting #7

Though you may not know from reading it I Hate This Part of Texas #7/Keep Loving Keep Fighting #7 is a split zine.

The Chainbreaker Bike Book: A Rough Guide to Bicycle Maintenance

This “rough guide to bicycle maintenance” is really two books in one.

My Brain Hurts: Volume One

Liz Baillie’s character Kate Callahan is everything that I wish I had been in school, as well as everything that I’m glad I wasn’t: a punk dyke; Mohawk-wearing, patches held on with safety pins-styling, multiple girlfriends-loving activist; and all-around New York City street-roamer. Think Diane DiMassa’s _Hothead Paisan _before she turned homicidal and got a cat.

The Constant Rider Omnibus: Stories from the Public Transportation Front

This second edition of _The Constant Rider Omnibus _collects issues 1-7 of Kate Lopresti’s zine of “stories from the public transportation front.” The first issue dates from September 2000 and chronicles the author’s holiday travels during a week riding Amtrak and VIA Rail (Canada’s rail system). The most recent issue included is from spring 2005 and covers tales of “celebrity sightings” associated with public transit.

Invincible Summer, Volume II

Reading Nicole Georges’ collection of zines, Invincible Summer, is like opening a time capsule to not only the writer’s life, but also the community and time period in which she lived.

Cantankerous Titles and Obscure Ephemera, Volume 1

This DVD of short documentaries by Joe Biel was probably the best thing that’s come in the mail for me this month. I mean that; I don’t even get a lot of bills! Maybe, as someone who enjoys interviewing people, I am a bit biased, but I really enjoy the subjects Biel presents, as well as the way personal commentary figures in, yet is not contrived.

The Flow Chronicles

Initially, The Flow Chronicles didn't seem like it could inspire me to do anything, but now I feel like wearing baggy pants and freestyling just for the hell of it. The author is really multi-dimensional, making me feel at ease and uncomfortable at the same time. It's about growing up and standing up, with Hermitt's first move to Seattle at only eighteen. "Interview with an actual, authentic lesbian" showed a different side of this brash, unapologetic woman. She made tactless a desirable trait, and self-discovery less painful.

Greenzine #14

Any radical unfamiliar with the art and writing of Christy C. Road by now should check this out, in addition to visiting her website at http://www.croadcore.org to get caught up. That being said, everyone already acquainted will know what to expect with Greenzine #14, but this proves to be a good thing.


Applicant is the story of one man’s journey into an Ivy League recycling bin and the humorous and cringe-inducing files he finds there. While searching through a bin for magazines, Jesse Reklaw happens upon the discarded confidential Ph.D applicant files for the biology department of an Ivy League school between the years 1965 – 1975.

Xtra Tuf No. 5: The Strike Issue

This zine is such an interesting peek into the world of commercial fishing in Alaska that it’s almost possible to overlook the story’s dismissal of the gang rape incident. Written in a style that is at once comforting and compelling, Moe Bowstern respectfully tells her story of life-as-an-Alaskan-fisherman. Xtra Tuf No. 5 takes us through the 1997 Alaskan Fisherman’s strike. It ends in 2005 with Moe coming full circle, back to her fisherman’s-soul’s life. We’re glad she does. Moe has heart.


When you think of Miami, you don’t often think of punk. I grew up in South Florida, I’ve come back here (for now). Miami is anti-punk – superficial, isolationist, materialistic. It’s possible to be punk in this city – to create and exist outside of the mainstream. Yet I’m always curious to see how others form their own identities, their own cultures, in a place that doesn’t do much to support them. This is what made me read Cristy C.

Sounds of Your Name

Sounds of your Name is an anthology of comics written and drawn by Nate Powell. The collection is fantastic for anyone who is a fan of Powell, or of classic newspaper comic strips. The stories are well drawn and deal with serious political issues. The artistry itself is very good, characteristic of this genre. However, it doesn’t have much appeal to the teenage age group that has been spurring the comic book market. The stories are more adult in nature and require a person to pay attention to what they are reading.

Doris #23

In the latest issue of her acclaimed zine, Cindy Crabb delivers more of the insightful, self-revelatory, meandering prose her readers have come to love. The issue opens with a beautifully-written meditation on love’s many forms. Other topics recounted include her canoeing trip with Julian, but touches upon dreams about her dead mother, the white co-opting of Native American experience, a friend’s disclosure of childhood sexual abuse, and her struggles with feelings of worthlessness.

Support Zine

“How do you define consent? Have you ever talked about consent with your partner(s) or friends? Do you know people, or have you ever been with people who define consent differently than you do?” Thus begins one of the best zines I have ever read on the subject of healing from sexual abuse. This zine is specifically geared towards friends, lovers and allies of survivors, and is written in an accessible, loving, realistic way, including writing and comics by a dozen or so contributors who are healing from or supporting others with abuse histories (many have experienced both).

Making Stuff & Doing Things

Making Stuff & Doing Things is a collection of DIY guides gathered by Kyle Bravo. Based on Bravo’s How2 Zine and the Tree of Knowledge’s collection of DIY articles, this book is a meaty volume. A lot of the stuff you'd expect to find in a DIY guide appears in here, including bookbinding, gardening, silk screening, sewing, making stencils, wheat pasting, composting, dumpster diving, etc.