Brainscan #24 and #25
Putting one’s life on display is, in essence, quite a courageous act. Yet in this time of reality television, it is becoming more of a norm, infused with a sense of banality. Thank goodness for zines, where our need to know intimate details of strangers’ lives is a collaboration of intelligence between people who actually think about stuff, write with a purpose, and use their experiences to connect, grow, and reach out to their community.
Brainscan is an extremely personal zine. Its author, Alex Wrekk, is a zine superstar, and rightly so. Author of the popular how-to guide of zine-making, Stolen Sharpie Revolution, over fifteen years of zine-making under her belt, and the most intimate details of her life photocopied, stapled, and mailed around the world, this is a woman committed to taking her experiences in life and putting them on display in a way that is not for ratings or profit. Rather, she does it for the love of writing, creating, and sharing.
The most recent issues of Brainscan, #24 and #25, (which come as a set when ordered from Alex’s site Small World Buttons) are quite different from each other yet enjoyable in their own ways.
Brainscan #24 is a small collection of vignettes containing snippets from Wrekk’s life, such as her love for good beer and why her zine is called Brainscan. They are musings that give a good overview of Wrekk’s thoughts and attitudes without delving very deeply into any particular subject, making it a quick read and a nice sneak peak into someone else’s brain.
Brainscan #25, on the other hand, is much weightier, and concentrates on the story of Wrekk finding her way back to her true love, Paul, after being in an abusive marriage and growing exponentially as a person. Issue #21 of Brainscan is widely known throughout the zine community as it detailed the breakup of Wrekk’s marriage and is celebrated as a courageous story of overcoming abuse. This current issue touches on some of those subjects but is more of a celebration of finding the strength to love and being true to your heart.
The zine sometimes gets a bit painfully intimate to read, bordering on too much information, but it leaves you breathless with its honesty. It is constructed nicely, both visually and thematically, with flashbacks of Wrekk’s early relationship with Paul interspersed through a chronological telling of the dissolution of her marriage, and journey through learning to love herself and other people in new and radical ways.
Grammar and spell-check go out the window, on par with the zine making genre which rebels in both content and construction to mainstream publishing norms. Reading Brainscan is like you have gone into Wrekk’s house, sat on her bed, and read her diary, but she invites this intimacy, keeping no secrets. This style of writing is extremely feminist as it takes subjects women are told to keep hidden and be ashamed of and puts them out into the world, with a sense of acknowledgment and pride in personal growth, and the sharing of stories, in turn facilitating community dialogue.