Monday, February 2, 2015

REVIEW: Stolen Sharpie Revolution

Stolen Sharpie Revolution
Alex Wrekk

Genre: Zines, Creativity
Publisher: Lunchroom Publishing
Publication date: 12.1.2014
Pages: 152

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 1.31.2015

Summary:  Since 2002, Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture has been the go-to guide for all things zine-related.  This little red book is stuffed with information about zines.  Things you may know, stuff you don't know and even stuff you didn't know you didn't know!
            Stolen Sharpie Revolution contains a cornucopia of information about zines and zine culture for everyone from the zine newbie to the experienced zinester to the academic researcher.  Stolen Sharpie Revolution consists of thoughtful lists and step-by-step how-to guides on everything from definitions of a "zine," where to find zines, why they are important, how to make them and how to participate in zine culture.
            This book has everything you need to get started creating your own zine, or to figure out what to do with the zine you just made.  Stolen Sharpie Revolution serves as both an introduction into the wide world of zine culture and as a guide to taking the next step to become a part of it.

A pre-review:
The other day, someone on Amazon commented on one of my old reviews.  As I skimmed the review, I realized that, when I really connect to a book, I share a personal story at the beginning, usually explaining why I chose to read the book in the first place, or what made it hit home.  As I sat down the other day to get my thoughts together on this one, I knew that my story was going to be quite long, so I decided that, when it comes to these, there needs to be a pre-review, something I share with my friends on here, but not something that I bother potential readers on Amazon with.

When I was little, my sister and I, plus two really good friends (Richard and Chris), made "newspapers."  We made really interesting designs with things that we found around the house and yard, then used them on the pages with articles, artwork and pictures.  When we were done, their mother would keep it and the next time we were all together, she would hand us a stack of black and white copies (it wasn't until I got older that I realized this was not magic).  We would then go and hand them out to people in the neighborhood - they always seemed really excited to get the next edition of our paper, which encouraged us to make even more.  (And sometimes we'd get a dime or a quarter for our hard work.)
            If zines had been a thing, all those many years ago, that's what they would have been.
            It was the beginning of me being a writer, of me wanting to be a journalist in some form.
            When I was in high school, a friend of mine worked at this little music store in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas.  That is where I came across my first zine (as well as met several up-and-coming, at the time, bands, including Green Day, No Doubt and Barenaked Ladies).  
            I was in awe.  I wanted to do this so bad, wanted to create something as beautiful as this black and white thing in my hands (I still remember the beautiful artwork with random, but few, pops of color), but I didn't know how or even who to turn to with my questions (plus, the friends I did speak to about it had no idea what I was even talking about, and thought the whole thing sounded dumb).
            I gave up on my dream to create (at least in that way).
            When blogs became the "next-big-thing," I thought the zine movement was over and that I had missed my chance.  I tried the whole blog thing over and over, but it never seemed to "work" - back then, at least - and it just wasn't the same.
            Several months ago, I found out that the zine movement is still a thing in different circles - it never died!! - and again my heart was filled with hope of one day being able to be part of that world.  I researched and wanted to know more - and this book was exactly what I needed.  (Thank you, Sage, for suggesting it.)

My review:
When this book came in the mail, it was delivered in a shipping envelope from the author, and the only thing I really knew about it is what Sage told me.  It really was not what I expected at all.  This is like the cutest little book ... ever.  It's small, like the size of my hand.  When you see it, your first thought is "aww," but then you quickly realize that this is REALLY cool.

This, plus SHARPIES (did you hear the angels singing "Hallelujah"?  Yes ... THAT happened!) and the fact that she uses one of the most awesome words in the HISTORY of awesome words - "mercurial" - I was completely hooked on this book from the very first pages.  Alex Wrekk, WE can be friends.  Totally.  Hang out sometime.  Hell, I'll even let you borrow ... um ... use ... um ... let's be honest, you can stand in the same room with my Sharpie collection, but don't even THINK about touching them haha.  

This book is VERY informative and includes how-tos and points on all aspects of zine creation and the zine community.  It is nicely written by someone who obviously loves zines and wants to help others create something beautiful as well.  It's a creative book - very aesthetically pleasing - and she points out that she made it look the way she wants, the way she does her zines, but this doesn't have to be the way that you do your zine because are a very personal thing.  I think this book is great for people who are just starting out in the zine community, but also for people who are already in it, especially because of the resources she includes in it (and on her website).

About the author:
Alex Wrekk's life revolves around making things; primarily zines, custom pinback buttons (badges), vegan food, travel plans, and space for a cat in her bed.
            Alex Wrekk has lived in Portland, Oregon since 1999 and has been creating the zine Brainscan since 1997.  Brainscan zine has grown and changed with Alex over the years with stories ranging from travel, reproductive health, love and loss, emotional abuse recovery, zine culture, and even fiction all wrapped up in text and photocopier art.  She also wrote the book Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Guide for Zines and Zine Culture that is now entering its 5th edition.
            When Alex isn't doing zine things she is doing other zine things like organizing the Portland Zine Symposium, establishing July as International Zine Month, commiserating with Zine Event Organizers around the world, updating the zine event listings on, hosting the podcast Nobody Cares About Your Stupid Zine Podcast, fidgeting with her Risograph printer, reading from her zines out loud on zine tours or singing in a zine themed pop-punk band called The Copy Scams.
            Alex has been making custom finback buttons since 2000 under various business names.  In 2012 Alex opened Portland Button Works and zine distort, an online and brick and mortar shop in Portland, Oregon selling zines and book sand making custom buttons, bottle openers, and magnets in 4 different sizes.  She also maintains an Etsy shop with the same name.


alexwrekk said...

I like your pre-review, especially the part about "magic". Photocopier are kind of magic. This was such a lovely review!
It seems that you are in Houston? I was born in Houston but only lived there 10 years. My parents moved back about 15 years ago and live in Tomball. I was down there last October for Zine Fest Houston. You should check it out this year. It's help in the printing museum, which seems like such and appropriate location.
cheers! -Alex

Meghan H said...

Thanks for stopping by The Gal, Alex. :)

And I'm glad you liked the pre-review. They are kind of magic, but I never even knew a copier was involved. They were just there. And my mom was pretty full of magic when I was young, so I always assumed that everyone else's was too. :)

I was in Houston, but am now in San Antonio. It's only a four hour drive and a Zine Fest sounds like fun. I'll have to check that out. Thanks :)