Funwater Awesome, Issue #4, July 2009
by Zach Mandeville
64 pg. at 1/4 letter size
$3 from Ms. Valerie Park Distro
Funwater? Awesome! The first fiction zine I have reviewed, maybe even the first I’ve read. Are there other fiction zines? Are they all this great? I am earnestly discombobulated by how great this zine is. Thrillingly, too, Funwater Awesome excerpts Zach Mandeville’s novel-in-progress, My Brother!. That means there’s more; there will be more.
The zine is a fictionalized tribute to Mandeville’s home: Tumwater, Washington, just outside of Olympia. It consists of three interspersed components:
1. Headline-style dispatches from Funwater in 1889.
2. A present-day story of friends enjoying life in contemporary Funwater.
3. Brief biographies of the founders of Fun/Tumwater, with reviews of the swingsets at the elementary schools named after them.
All three are magnificently funny and warmly earnest. Mandeville’s descriptions are incongruous and perspicacious, like the way he describes someone speaking in an “angry, sad tone, like an old man explaining the power of a single vote”. Further, he writes well about the power of radio and the way that nostalgia can consume and unhinge you.
Issue 4 of Funwater Awesome is about doing summer things with your friends in the summer. By summer things I mean, for instance, drawing comics, reading library books, and having big feelings about the song playing on your Discman. If you are an adult, there is a good likelihood you used to do these things more than you do now and that you miss them. Hence the power of these anecdotes, tapping into a vague but potent current of nostalgia.
In the interests of fairness, Mandeville notes on his website that he loves Achewood, a comic I spent a lot of time appreciating at a tender age. Thence, perhaps, a mutual appreciation for absurdist humour about tragicomic situations. Even if you never spent too much time looking at humourous drawings of talking cats, you might still appreciate this.
The writeup for Funwater Awesome on the Ms. Valerie Park Distro website promises that it will “make you long for the next chapter as if it was the 19th century and you were waiting for the next installment of a Charles Dickens book”. This is a bold claim, but justified. I recommend this zine highly and without reservations.
- Lily Pepper