This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Zine Review: Like Fighting The Ocean (Skateboarding After 30)

Like Fighting The Ocean is a zine about skateboarding and listening to punk music. Creator Paul Renn describes it in exactly those terms: “This zine is about punk rock and skateboarding, that’s it. They are inseparably linked in my mind and are two of the most important discoveries I’ve had in my life.” Thematically, Like Fighting The Ocean is about maintaining enthusiasm for counterculture activities that are associated with teenagers, even after turning 30 and starting an “adult” life.

You can buy the zine online ($4 + free US shipping), but Paul writes that he “would much rather trade for your zine/record/whatever the hell you think is worth trading…” I encountered Like Fighting The Ocean at Pegasus Books in Oakland, then emailed Paul to trade some of my writing for his. You can do the same via

Like Fighting The Ocean, skateboarding zine by Paul Renn
Note: the actual color is a true brown, like brown sugar.

I enjoyed Like Fighting The Ocean because it enthusiastically explores a culture that I’ve never joined. (Positive, good-hearted media is my favoritest thing. Okay, and then there’s Peep Show…) The zine could have been improved by including non-male voices, but punk rock and skateboarding are kind of a boys’ club, so I wasn’t exactly surprised.

The first section is “Skateboarding After 30”, which Paul prefaces by explaining that when he was a young adult, “doing rad shit past age 30 seemed amazing, but also unrealistic.” Following this are testimonials from other close-to-middle-aged skateboarders. After that, Paul interviews band members from the punk outfits Scholastic Deth and Night Birds. The last section (my favorite) is Paul’s tour diary from visiting Canada with another punk band, Reservoir.

Like Fighting The Ocean will appeal to skateboarders, punk rockers, and cultural voyeurs like me. It’s also a very nice physical object. The brown cardboard cover is heavy and good to touch; within, the font choices are charmingly playful. Recommended.

Zine Review: Graceful Party #1

Graceful Party is a black-and-white perzine. The first issue consists of 34 pages, wherein author Claire discusses lunar geography, flowers, horror dreams, and local diner menus, not to mention ghosts. She warns the reader on the first page, “If you have nothing but disdain for feminine trivia, please turn back now.”

I enjoyed this zine a lot. Surprisingly, so did my dad. He is a 58-year-old man, not necessarily the target audience. Dad said, “I especially like the sort of headlong quality of her writing. It’s just — coming out!”

Graceful Party #1 is available for trade and probably also for money — maybe even free? You can email or check out this Tumblr post.

Graceful Party zine
Photo via the creator on Tumblr.

I appreciated the beautiful presentation of this zine. Floral wrapping paper and a handwritten note made me realize that I’ve been neglecting an essential part of the snail-mail experience when I send out my own zines. I can’t write a personal note for every envelope of Balm Digest, but I can take a little more care to make the package fun to open. It’s awesome that zines are a multi-stage experience, a sensory experience, and I want to create a special moment at the beginning like Claire did.

The content of Graceful Party #1 is a combination of illustrations and whimsical commentary. Drawings are done with thick black lines that have an incongruous buoyant quality. There is a lot of visual repetition, using the sort of mesmerizing patterns found in a book of optical illusions. Claire’s narrative dabbles in the occult, with friendly girlish handwriting. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer rather than HP Lovecraft. Claire asks on page 22, “In daily life, how are you haunted? How might you be a ghost? Are you already a ghost? How? What is a ghost? Discuss.”

Near the end of the zine, Claire suggests listening to Unknown Rooms by Chelsea Wolfe, Brooklyn White, and Circus Maximus by Momus. On the last page, she explains references from throughout the zine, and provides credit for Creative Commons content, which thrilled me. Intellectual property is very important, but so many people flagrantly disregard it. All in all, I found Graceful Party #1 wonderful. If you love reading snippets of other people’s lives and are a fan of Ghostbusters or The X-Files, then I recommend this zine.

Sign up for my newsletter to stay abreast of my new writing and projects.

I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. If you click on an Amazon link from this site and subsequently buy something, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).