Watcha Mean, What’s a Zine? : The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson is a guidebook for anyone interested in creating a zine or mini-comic sprinkled with a wealth of examples from a wealth of indie comics. The pages are slick looking although the choice to use beige and light blue as the primary color choices is beyond my comprehension. I had a hard time reading the book because my eyes simply ached for a little black and white on which to focus. And layering the light blue on splashes of beige? Really? Was this necessary?
I suppose so because, when all is said and done, I genuinely enjoyed this book and found some very useful information on the process of creating a zine with some very practical advice. For instance, the more black there is on a page, the more likely it is to get stuck in a photocopier. Hmmm . . . perhaps that explains why there is an absence of black in this book. Okay. I’m being a bit hyperbolic because there is black here and there and I am just being old, perhaps too old to not complain about something.
The sections on how to format and print a zine or mini-comic is perfect with suggestions on how to cut and paste, if necessary, or to lay everything out right the first time to go straight from page to print. Suggestions for mini-books using only one sheet of paper and for how to bind longer projects are also included. On a technical level, the information in this book is great.
Where this book feel flat for me, color choices aside, is that I found it completely uninspiring. When I finished reading it, I had no desire to grab pen and paper and get started. It isn’t that I didn’t find the book interesting and informative but if someone is hoping to read this book for a gentle push in creative directions then the practical content is simply not going to fulfill. I can’t begrudge the authors for focusing on the technical of the technique. There are other books that focus on how to find inspiration. And after you’ve read one of those books and you have pages of product you are ready to publish then this is absolutely the must-have book for where and how to begin. If you started and stalled, knowing how you will finish might be the push you need. It really depends on where you are and what you need.