Propter Nos is the yearly journal from True Leap Press. It’s a smartly critical read with an eye toward beauty and a better world, and Volume 2—published October 2017 and excerpted here—circles around the idea of political and emotional exhaustion from a resolutely anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, and anti-nationalist perspective. True Leap is currently working on their third issue and providing free copies to incarcerated readers; learn more at trueleappress.com
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.
Build Coffee—opened this summer by two former South Side Weekly editors—is a coffee shop and bookstore directly next door to the Weekly office in the Experimental Station. They stock a mix of used and new books, including a wall of mostly-local zines, chapbooks, comics, and artist books. The following pages, chosen with great neighborly affection, are excerpts from some of their favorite Chicago presses and artists on those shelves: Bigmouth Comix, Let It Sink, 7Vientos, Half Letter Press, Low Key Label, and Brown & Proud Press.
F.E.M.M.E. is named for an imaginary group of radical feminists called the Federation of Enthusiastic Misandrists & Miscellaneous Emasculators; I’ve been making a series of zines under the F.E.M.M.E. banner since 2011. Each issue has a loose theme that emerges as I am putting it together, and while each issue varies a bit tonally, stylistically, or both, F.E.M.M.E. generally features writing and images on queer identity-making.
In late 2015, when Sarah Gonzalez and Rich Gutierrez had just finished their zine, Knowing Your Worth, they told an interviewer that they “wanted to capture the experiences of people of color that are sacred and familiar, to make them visible, and open the possibilities of relating to others’ stories.” The two had long observed that, as people of color, their friends and students often felt their own stories and experiences seemed worthless or unimportant. The project became an attempt to counteract those emotions and instead create a space for lesser-heard voices to be noticed and appreciated.