Damaged Mentality zine
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I do go on about how everyone should make their own movies, blogs, and other media, don’t I? I’m remiss because not everyone has access to all the technology on a regular basis or at all. Not everyone wants to engage with technology and machines as much as I do. And honestly, no matter how tech-oriented our world gets, there are still folks who relish the look and feel of stories and art on paper, created piece by piece in small batches.
Enter the zine. Well, the zine entered a really, really long time ago. Whether you got into them early or not, they’re still around. I’m glad for it. Their handmade look and photocopied pages are both engaging and nostalgic for me, having grown up in a time when no one in the DIY world worked with anything more sophisticated than photocopiers. Zines are self-published and are often non-virtuosic, a place for people to write and draw just as they do. There aren’t barriers to entry like going to art school, being able to draw in any particular style, or fitting into some industry’s notion of what is “good” art and content and what isn’t.
I recently came across Damaged Mentality, a lovely zine by Synthia Nicole started in 2009. I ordered all the copies at once and had a very good time reading them. The writing is succinct, to the point, thoughtful, and real. Synthia has memory impairments and sometimes repeats herself. Well frankly, I love that. Because when she retells a story, I remember it better. I like that a lot. Own it, Synthia!
[Image description: A woman with glasses holds up a small, pink zine “Damaged Mentality #2.5”.]
Damaged Mentality mostly explores the artist’s life and questions that come up since an AVM and three brain surgeries. Also, it has fabulous recipes! While brain surgery is great for repairing AVMs, it’s still a brain injury in itself. And Synthia lives with consequences like memory impairment, chronic pain in her legs, and some other things many of you peers with brain injury live with on a regular basis. Yes, that includes a lot of change in relationships that she had before the brain surgeries. Brain injury can be very hard on relationships and self-confidence. In fact, Synthia herself says this on the zine’s Facebook page: “i don’t think the old Synthia and the new Synthia would be friends”. It’s really a great zine. I was touched and moved by a lot of the writing.
Zines are an amazing space to explore disability identity and culture and represent things the mainstream magazines won’t. Titles like “You’re Crazy” put together by Craig Lewis and “Ring of Fire” by ET Russian are what I’m talking about. The “Ring of Fire” anthology might be one of my favorite reads/look ats ever. Even the Barnard Library has a zine collection. They recently curated an exhibit of disabled women zine-sters called “Movements: Politics, Performance and Disability.”
Please check out Damaged Mentality. And if you’re someone who thinks you don’t write or draw well, throw that idea in the garbage and make your own zine. When you do, drop me a line. I’d love to see it and share it on this blog!