Build Coffee, run by Hannah Nyhart and Bea Malsky—two former South Side Weekly editors—is a coffee shop and bookstore directly next door to the Weekly newsroom in the Experimental Station. When they celebrated the shop’s first birthday last month, we asked them to gift us a collection of their favorites from the past year’s stock, including zines, chapbooks, art books, and comics from over fifty local artists and small presses. They came through: the following pages are a selection of work from Build’s shelves, all published in Chicago in the past year.
The Sick Muse is an ever-evolving homage to Chicago’s various DIY scenes. For issue 10, editors Sasha Tycko, Noah Jones, and Jolene Whatever have grown from their zine roots into a full-size glossy magazine with artist interviews, hip weirdo features, and artfully illustrated lyrics from local bands. It’s all centered on the concept of utopia and a willfully optimistic call to action, including the excerpt featured here: “How to Do Things with Throats” by pt bell. The Sick Muse accepts submissions on a rolling basis at thesickmuse.com
The Broken Nose Collective is an interdisciplinary group of artists making “accessible, regional, and honest-to-goodness works of art that are for, by, and about the Chicago community.” Their latest publication is Tethers, an archive zine of interpersonal memories and musings. BNC are artists on the go—next up is a touring wind quartet performance focused on the idea of “harvest.” The excerpts featured here are illustrated and written by Keara McGraw. Keep track of the Broken Nose Collective at brokennosecollective.org
In her own words, across comics, protest banners, tattoos, animations, and even skateboards, bria royal is making “intersectionally black and indigenous mythologies for ourselves and our future liberated descendants.” Black Girl Mania is her fantastic account of a futuristic banana republic and life with bipolar disorder. Bria organizes with the People’s Response Team and For The People Artists Collective, and more of her work can be found at briaroyal.com
“My Ode to the Spicy Lollipop”
This is how my lollipop tastes: It has chile, four layers, and there is gum inside. The gum is really blistering. I can already feel my tongue on fire. I hear the firefighters. It is round and hot like the sun. I cherish my gum so much that I think I just broke my tooth. It hurts so much. It’s too spicy. It tastes so good and delicious and healthy and hard, but still so good. The wrapper is red and has a face of the spicy lollipop with sunglasses.
She was known as “Fire,” but was named Christina by my grandparents. Christina was our aunt, my mother’s eldest sister. Though we usually called her Aunt Chris, during tense times in our lives we referred to her as Fire.
My Chicago be grid-mapped
Superman up high spot train car lines
Like speeding bullet through cityscape
Ahhh, What a sweet escape
Fall asleep on one side blue/red
Wake up black/white
Always knew red line split city black/white
Never took issue with this until nightfall
Better be on your side by nightfall
But nevermind that
When you are a poet and a bird hits the window at your grandma’s house you feel like you need to say something about it/you need to mean something about it/you need to know something about it. What I know is what I saw: the feather drifting down in a serene spiral after what I heard: the bang against the glass and the shriek from my sister’s mouth. My dad and grandma went over to the window and watched the life drift out of the struggling bird. After my dad and the caregiver returned from the backyard with a lifeless plastic bag, my grandma said, shouldn’t we say a prayer for it or something? I said we could say the mourner’s Kaddish but I don’t remember the words. She doesn’t remember a lot of things, but she remembers my name, lets it ring into the hall in surprise when we enter the house. There is no grand metaphor about the bird or my grandmother or life and death. What I know is just what I saw. It died and there was nothing we could do.
I got so used to a closet without a light
That now the landlord’s fixed it
I have forgotten it is there, still digging around for my underwear in the dark.
Every time I remember and pull the chain
it’s like god creating the world again,
and it is good.