Doris #23

Doris #23

by Cindy Crabb Author

Cindy Crabb's zine is simply one of the best personal zines, complete with little scribbly cartoons and a subtle idealogical base worked in for good measure. It is really worth all of the hype and more. This is the L-M-N-O issue of the alphabet series discusses love, the ladies' group she attends with her grandmother, the process of menstrual extraction (a process developed in 1970 for women to take control of their bodies from home before abortion was legal), stories of living with her grandparents in Arizona, and a frightening trip that brought her and a friend to the California beaches where they got water logged in their tent and had to make an emergency evacuation. The beauty of the zine is how she slips in the simplest sentence in the middle of a story that connects her reading a book as a 16 year old to cultural appropriation or talks about her grandmother using the same inflection as her deceased mother and you can smile with her or shed a single tear because you understand and you can tell that she understands you too.

Comments & Reviews


"This is a top notch perzine with a slight dreamlike or surreal quality about it. It shifts setting repeatedly with no reference point from which to start; We don't know if we're going forward or back in time. The narrator is on the fringe; dealing with poverty and mental health issues. Berkeley, NC, VT, AZ, Rocky Mountains, NJ, hitchhiking, prison. Though bleak in places, there is a spirit, a strength there that makes it palatable. Never boring."


These words were surprisingly personal. The reader will have trouble deciding if they are real or merely the work of a serious wordsmith with a pension for putting their innermost thoughts on display for the world. It doesn’t matter, actually. Like a chunk of someone’s diary published for public consumption, the entire book reads as if Anne Frank taught a class and the author was the star pupil. From childhood, to dreamland, to the California coast, this first-person account makes readers feel like they’re reading something they shouldn’t. Recommended.


Doris is a pretty straightforward, slice of life kind of zine with a running alphabet theme. Original writing and a minimalist style make this one worth checking out.


In this issue Cindy continues her alphabet project, writing on the letters L-M-N-O - Love/ladies lunch, menstrual extraction, Nicky, and Ocean. Cindy's writing is so personal that you can feel guilty at times just reading it; but it's so often well written and unafraid of being vulnerable that it just seems so strong. For those interested, Menstrual Extraction is a home-based abortion tactic that Cindy provides some information on as well as an interview about. Other parts of the zine are stories and little drawings, from getting trapped in a storm on a beach to hanging out in Arizona with her grandmother. Nice, simple aesthetic and dual color cover. Highly recommended for anyone into personal zines.


I have the book of compiled Doris zines and no matter how many times I read it, I still can't put it down. She makes me feel alive- like I could take on the world no problem.

In the latest issue of her acclaimed zine, Cindy Crabb delivers more of the insightful, self-revelatory, meandering prose her readers have come to love. The issue opens with a beautifully-written meditation on love’s many forms. Other topics recounted include her canoeing trip with Julian, but touches upon dreams about her dead mother, the white co-opting of Native American experience, a friend’s disclosure of childhood sexual abuse, and her struggles with feelings of worthlessness. Also included are reminiscence about her friend Nicky, whom she met while in jail (for what offense we are not told), and the story of her attempt to see the redwood trees in California with her friend Jono, which turned into a miserable experience of camping on an exposed beach in a chilling rainstorm and nearly getting hypothermia.
“Ladies lunches” is a lighthearted section about attending weekly luncheons with her grandmother and other elderly women in the Southwestern United States. Her sense of the women’s joie de vivre and her respect for them is relayed well: “At Ladies Lunch they talk and laugh, they have nothing left to prove. They have seen so much and are interested in everything, they have been through the subject of death together a million times.” Crabb notes that before her mother’s death she did not get along with her grandmother, but now enjoys spending time with her and helping care for her grandfather; it’s a small but cathartic confession.
The section on menstrual extraction may be too “out there” for most readers. It is a method through which one can supposedly lighten and shorten one’s period by suctioning out the contents of the uterus, including an egg fertilized in the preceding few weeks. As such, it could be considered both a method or emergency contraception and abortion. The idea of women taking control of their own bodies is appealing, but building and operating the contraption necessary for the procedure makes it seem as if a traditional clinical abortion would be much easier to endure. (If you actually knew how to do menstrual extraction it would be much less expensive, as the equipment needed includes only such every day items as a syringe, valves, plastic tubing and a mason jar, but the training sounds difficult and hard to come by.) Overall, this issue engages the reader and sparks both empathy and insight.