Elevate Difference

Brainscan #23

This second printing of Brainscan #23 was released in September 2008, but don’t worry about it being outdated. While the events in this zine happened between 1995 and 2003, none of Alex Wrekk’s narratives has an expiration date.

Wrekk’s travel-themed vignettes are entertaining stories, told the way a friend would talk about the wild things that have happened to her. Not only is this zine an amusing way to kill some time while riding public transit or sitting in a waiting room, it also allows the reader to experience bits of one woman’s life. From trying to discourage unwanted suitors to exploring the urban legends of Salt Lake City and helping an unappreciative bike jock fix a flat, I felt I was right there with Wrekk through every adventure.

The tales are not laid out in chronological order, which keeps the zine from feeling like an autobiography. Arranging the episodes out of sequence emphasizes them as brief glimpses of Wrekk’s life away from home. The fact that each short-short story is independent of the others, coupled with the booklet’s small size perfect for tucking into a backpack or purse, make it easy to read on the go. Readers can open to any page and dive right in without having to keep up with a plot or remember what they read last.

This black and white zine’s old-school cut and paste design is a delight. Nearly every page features an appealing background pattern, and vintage photos are scattered throughout. A variety of fonts, point sizes, and white-on-black printing keep the pages visually stimulating.

In her introduction, Wrekk writes that the first version of Brainscan #23 was “literally thrown together in the fits of a fever haze,” but it doesn’t seem like she did much editing before printing more copies. Missing words, typos, and grammatical errors plague this zine. I realize paid copyeditors don’t correct anything self-published, but I found the multitude of mistakes distracting. A single careful reading should have easily brought the most blatant of the needed revisions to Wrekk’s attention.

Overall, spending two dollars for theses thirteen tales from Wrekk’s journeys is a great entertainment value. At fifteen cents each, these stories are bargains! This is a zine I will pull from the shelf again and again when I’m stuck at home but want to get lost in the saga of the road.

Written by: Chantel C. Guidry, June 16th 2009

I've read this zine and agree that the errors are distracting. I make zines and always proofread and have someone else read too, before I publish--some errors slip through, but it's kind to the reader to make it as clear as possible.

No, I was not writing off this zine because of typos. I enjoyed the zine very much and feel like I stated that clearly in my review.

I was only saying that the typos distracted me. Most of the typos could have been easily corrected. Most of the mistakes seem to be simply typos and not any sort of stylist choice.

I write zines too, and it seems like no matter how many times I proofread, I still find mistakes (usually of the wrong word variety) long after I have printed and distributed the zine. I understand that such things happen. But I think it makes sense to point out such obvious flaws when writing a (hopefully) balanced review.

Overall, I think this was a great zine, and I recommend it to folks for all the reasons I stated in the review.

I see both sides here. Zines certainly have a history of eschewing traditional grammatical and punctuation standards, and while I'm down w/ that, these "errors" can be a distraction from the content and puts the message of the zine at risk of being lost or obscured. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who write off zines (and blogs, for that matter) for just this reason, which is really a mistake (imho) since a lot of zinesters and bloggers that don't worry about "errors" have some really awesome and important things to say. (To be clear, I don't think Chantel is at all writing this zine off in her review.) It raises an issue of whether once can (or should) take the additional time to make their self-styled message conform to a format that is more readable (palatable?) to a lay audience. The idealistic part of me says 'fuck that. write however you want.' while the aesthetic part of me wants a self-edit to catch the basic "errors". How to reconcile?

its awesome to find a review of a self published zine but your problems with "missing words, typos and grammatical errors" that plague(!) this issue is rather bizarre, because-well, as a zinester, this seems rather petty. And when you say paid copyeditors don't correct anything self-published, well, you're correct. because paid copyeditors are PAID. Fancy and often slick& glossy zines will have copyeditors and even editors but obviously Alex's zine is not one of them.

I miss paper zines. I used to read one called "Insights" out in Long Island. Great find you got!