The Secret Files of Captain Sissy #5

The Secret Files of Captain Sissy #5

by Andy Cornell Author

Andy Cornell's new issue is a little bit of a departure from his style but still building upon and critiquing the punk community in a very necessary way. This issue tackles relevant issues through his own stories including skateboarding injuries from not wearing a helmet, student racial and anti-sweatshop activism, working for the Steelworkers Union, a couple weeks on the road with Mobilivre Bookmobile, thoughts on freedom fries and the PATRIOT act, book reviews of radical autobiographies, and my favorite article of all, a crazed account of the west Philadelphia co-op strike of 2002 where disagreements over one staff person's position and reluctance to work with the group lead to shutting down the co-op, macho intimidation, and putting a pallet of food on the trolley tracks! The tales of working in the steel union were equally fascinating as it challenges punk activism up a notch and tells stories of a queer man working in an industry where many of us do not get an inside look. A fascinating document of his last few years.

Comments & Reviews


At first the words here come across like an activist’s journal. But the more we read, the more the author begins to remind us of a character out of an early Michael Chabon novel, one that leapt from the page to begin his own zine-ish crusade against the tyranny of evil men. While that may be overstating it a bit, there’s no doubt that this is an engrossing piece of writing; one that’s absurd, dreamy, and informative. This issues also includes an intermezzo discussing the societal relevance of Flaming Hot Cheetos. Cornell’s suggestion: Dump Chester and feature a “flaming, hot, queer boy” in order to appeal to “the gay and lesbian snack niche”. Indeed.


Super thick secret emo summer styled zine that reads like something you would have picked up at More Than Music Fest '96. Andy goofily and somewhat charmingly recounts his adventures over the past five years, from knocking himself out dropping in on vert with no pads to an epic anarcho bookmobile tour of the US. This isn't my favorite genre of zine but I'd say it's probably one of the best of said genre I have read...political and heartfelt, jaded and genuine. Unsurprisingly this is part of the Microcosm zine empire.

The opening story in this zine was told from the viewpoint of a guy named Andy who had sustained a severe concussion while skateboarding and woke up in a hospital bed surrounded by his friends. I found this one a little disconcerting, as I am a skateboarder, have had concussions, and my name is Andy. The other articles in Captain Sissy were about Andy's experiences moving to Philadelphia, working as a union organizer, and going on tour with the Mobilivre, a traveling zine bookmobile. Overall, a solid effort with good writing and layouts throughout.

I've never read this zine before, but I like it's size. It utilizes a criminally under used 8 1/2" wide by 5 1/2" tall layout scheme. And I just like zines that are odd-sized because it can make things real interesting to look at. The content within this zine is equally as strange... not so much in it's topics that are weird, but stories that one doesn't always hear about. Things start off with a written account of the writer waking up from a skateboarding accident and losing all his short-term memory... so he keeps asking people the same questions over and over as he slowly puts the pieces of his life back together, like Bill Murray from Groundhog's Day solving Clue. Then, after a few pages of that, we suddenly switch gears and we get a story about the author working as a paid intern for the United Steelworkers Union in Pittsburgh. He has to get up and move his life out there and work on a number of campaigns for contracts and so forth in rural Kentucky. It's actually a pretty awesome story as a punk who is really dealing with real shit, facing people who, ethically may not share anything in common with him, but fighting for them in the larger sense (like taking on 'the Man'). Finally, there is a pretty entertaining tour diary of volunteering to help out with a bookmobile tour. One would think it's pretty boring stuff- touring various libraries and art galleries... yeah... fun shit right? Um, well, I never figured bookworms to party this hard or have as many run-in's with death. You'll have to check it out for yourself. You will never look at a zinester the same way again. Entertaining overall, particularly in it's choice of subject matter.

This is a really nicely done zine. It's mostly of personal/political variety, from an activist college student who seems to have read a lot of Crimethinc pamphlets. There are really interesting stories, my favorite being the one about the author hitting his head in a skateboarding accident and waking up in a hospital room with amnesia, and no short term memory. The story is about how it happened and what he went through trying to recover from it. There are other stories about going to Pennsylvania to work for a steel workers union, other union organizing stories, and a story about travelling with a bookmobile. There are also some book reviews, and other random stuff. The writing is really witty and entertaining and the zine is well put together. I enjoyed reading it.

"Andy Cornell really knows how to tell a story. "I open my eyes to a room full of familiar faces staring at me" ... and we're off on the hilarious and touching tale of his skateboarding-injury-induced short-term memory loss, complete with photocopies (cut and pasted, natch) of some of the actual notes he wrote to remind himself, again and again, of what was going on."

A lot of folks have been celebrating their ten-year anniversaries of zine publishing. This is pretty cool; ten years is definitely a milestone in a publishing genre where titles rarely make it past issue two or three. In Andy’s case, he’s only published five issues in those ten years, but as he affirms in his intro, the fact that he’s still publishing is what truly matters. And number five was well worth the wait of over two years it took to get to publication. This issue starts out with a hilarious yet sobering recounting of Andy’s experience with temporary memory loss following a skateboarding accident. What follows is a sprawling series of essays documenting the highlights of the past couple of years of Andy’s experiences in activism. This includes his internship with United Steelworkers of America, his tour with the Mobilivre-Bookmobile (a traveling exhibit of artist books, zine, and other independent publications), and his tale of the Great West Philadelphia Food Co-op Strike of 2002. Interspersed are radical biography and autobiography reviews, as well as a satirical manifesto for collectivizing a Flaming Hot Cheetos factory. Though these pieces span several years of his life, Andy aligns and highlights their significance through the use of several introductory narratives. Highly recommended.