“a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life”, issues 1 and 2
by Kisha Hope. Issue 1 is 16 pages, Issue 2 is 32 pages, both half-letter.
I got my copies for $2 each from Stranger Danger Distro.
These two direct, poignant, funny, and matter-of-fact zines tell Kisha Hope’s story of “growing up fat, black, poor, awkward, and awesome” as a bright but socially inept kid in Coney Island.
The two issues are roughly chronological, with the first issue taking her from birth through the early years of elementary school. Hope started school early and skipped two grades in elementary school, but was beset by health problems, ideological teachers, and body image woes.
In Issue two, Hope discovers punk rock with the help of an awesome aunt who buys her Bad Brains records and sneaks her into shows at ABC No Rio. Dreamy! Issue two also talks about her sexual coming-of-age adventures with various classmates, which are pretty rad stories, including getting caught scissoring a pal in the showers of their school gym. I think that this is objectively pretty badass.
Being the crafty woman that she is, my mom decided to make my clothes. She bought 3 hyper-coloured sweatshirts from the thrift store and spray-painted “New Kids on the Block” (except it said “New Kids from the Corner” because she had no clue). I knew this wouldn’t fly right with the kids at school, but I decided to give it a shot.
Hope is married to another queer Chicago zinester, Dave Taco, author of “Black Carrot” and “How I Learned to Love Myself and Occasionally Other Men”. The pair also co-wrote “Fort Mortgage”, which is a verso split zine about their experiences dealing with realtors and home inspectors and banks in the process of buying their own house. Hope also wrote “I Could Live in Hope: Sexual Abuse and Survival” about her childhood history of sexual abuse, and how it’s affected her life and relationships, which I have not yet read, but look forward to picking up.
Despite the extensive laundry list of personal misfortunes Hope chronicles, she manages to avoid self-pity. Her self-deprecating anecdotes are fun to read because she takes a healthy pride in her bad luck and struggles and having come through them with panache. Her tone betrays the story’s ending: that she grows up to be a smart, creative, self-confident person. These zines are a fun and poignant case study in owning your most painful and embarrassing moments and wearing them well.
- Lily Pepper