Editor: Davida Gypsy Breier
Publisher: Microcosm Publishing
Retail Price: $3
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I admire Xenography Debt for its unflagging support of the zine community. They are definitely one of the biggest and most consistent torches keeping the flame alive. But they are consistent to a fault. The opening articles always seem to be the same philosophical treatise of “what is a zine,” an academic history of zines, and general fist-shaking at digital media. It’s exhausting.
Following their template, the anxieties and defensiveness of zine culture puritanism give way after a dozen pages to the bulk of the zine – selective, ultra-positive reviews of other zines. Sounding repetitious myself, I have to point out again how counterproductive this is: if everything is awesome, how does anyone know what really is truly excellent, or at least good enough to kill a few trees?
More repetitious complaints: The zines reviewed aren’t organized alphabetically or by category, even by reviewer, making it difficult to find anything. I’m sure most of XD’s readers are other zinesters/self-publishers, so I’d imagine being able to locate their own zines, their friends’, or those that they like or dislike would be important. More complaints: Different reviewers can review the same zines, which adds repetition to the repetition. Music zines are nonexistent besides Razorcake and “The Prince Zine” (which DOES sound awesome). At least I think it was called The Prince Zine. I couldn’t find it again because there is no sorting or index.
I was happy to see one negative review – The Zinester’s Guide to New York City – which does seem like a Manhattan-centric piece of shit. See, I would trust this reviewer’s opinion now. You need a balance of positive and negative to call yourself a “review zine” if you want to imbue your reviews with integrity and authority.
I respect Xenography Debt’s singular vision and stamina, but it’s kind of like how I respect the consistency of Kraftwerk’s music or Woody Allen’s acting. At a certain point, though, you have to wonder how something that celebrates creativity can be so repetitious and dull, and how something that calls itself a “review” zine wishes to be nothing more than a cluttered resource list.
Bottom Line: Everything is great! Free puppies and ice cream to every zine!