June 6, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 50°F


Student zines offer humor and fresh perspectives

Distribution boxes on campus look much more crowded these days. Along with established campus publications like Buzzsaw and The Ithacan, three new magazines have been slowly joining the pile throughout the year.

Sophomore Ryan Bryant puts together content for the first issue of his new campus magazine Cake on March 1 in his room. This year, three campus zines surfaced. Bryant’s focuses on music. Taylor Mcintyre/The Ithacan

Better Magazine, Cake and Ants in the Kool-Aid are written, edited and published entirely by students. They’re zines, photocopied independent magazines with specific niches and small circulations.

Better Magazine

The first new publication to pop up this year was Better Magazine, the brainchild of two sophomores who go by Maticus Waxwing and Chester Tail.

Though the word magazine appears in the zine’s title, the editors don’t think of it as one at all. Tail refers to it as a “humorous pamphlet” that serves as an outlet for whatever wacky ideas he and Waxwing come up with on a daily basis.

“It’s definitely not fact,” Waxwing said. “It’s not news. And while satire is a really good thing, I don’t think this is satire because that’s based off reality. It’s play. It’s stuff that comes out of our heads for any random reason.”

The zine’s production office, a single bedroom in Ithaca College’s Circle Apartments, is about as untraditional as its content, which includes a fabricated advice column with letters answered by a character named Monkey Christ.

The editors describe the zine’s comedy as a mixture of Waxwing’s “more dry sense of humor” and Tail’s “wet, silly” nature. Together, they consider themselves “damp.”

“We’re not moist, though,” Waxwing said. “People don’t like that word.”

— Andy Swift


The fresh, new, indie-tastic Cake is a pure mini-zine that features only music.

“All of the good music magazines have one-word titles,” said Ryan Bryant, the sophomore editor in chief who began spearheading the project during the fall semester. “I asked my friend at dinner to think of the first word that came into her head.” And thus, in a rather impromptu, quirky fashion, Cake was conceived.

Bryant’s motives for starting Cake were largely influenced by the idea of a publication that would have more creative liberties and less rigid editing.

“I don’t really want the insane structure … while it’s good for a major paper, it might not work for an independent zine,” he said.

In conjunction with the lax structural format of the zine, Bryant corresponded with the Student Activities Board to get Cake approved as a music conversation and publication club.

“Anyone who [wants to] come to the club can come,” he said. “Anyone who wants to review or interview can as well. I’m trying to just make it open for everyone.”

In addition to the paper version, Bryant has arranged a Web component in the vein of some other popular music blogs.

With the exception of the color-penciled title, Cake is only a couple of black and white pages stapled together. But in a small editorial of the first issue, Bryant promises that there is much more in store and issue No. 1 is just a small sample of the tasty “magic” that Cake has to offer.

— Andrew Rivard


Ants in the Kool-Aid, a third zine introduced last month, is best classified in a genre somewhere between its two predecessors.

Like Better Magazine, it’s a small publication run by two students under pseudonyms — freshmen Clayton Jones and Moss Lampkin — with a penchant for humor writing. According to Jones, Lampkin is the “main humor engine” of the operation.

But Kool-Aid’s other key ingredient is music, which comes by way of Jones.

It’s when Jones’ music and Lampkin’s humor come together that the zine really shines. Their first issue featured a crossword puzzle in which every answer somehow took a dig at Zooey Deschanel and Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard.

The editors haven’t been flooded with

e-mails yet — they worry readers may not be taking futuremrsjohnstamos@gmail.com seriously — but they said they feel the zine received a warm welcome, and they’re even considering upping their circulation from 100 to 200 copies for their sophomore issue later this month.

“The good response is that they’re gone,” Lampkin said.

— Andy Swift