Simple Sal: A Busy Gal’s Guide to Simple Livin’ in a Crazy Age is a somewhat overwhelmingly enthusiastic resource of information about domestic and household concerns. It also provides some ethical guidance. The visual layout of the zine reveals that it is made entirely on Microsoft Word, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that the use of four to six different fonts on each page and incessant underlining and italicizing makes it difficult to read and to follow. On each page there are so many jokes, tips, doodles and graphics as well as the featured piece of writing, that the enthusiasm comes off as a little overeager. There are even instances where Isaak’s enthusiasm, especially where the content involves some kind of ethical guidance, verges on being pretentious and judgmental. The “Glamorous Global Impact” section features huge and rapidly changing fonts that urge the reader to check out ‘Heifer International’ and donate to the project: “A MUCH better holiday or birthday gift than a cheesy afghan or more freaking candleholders!” Blunt, cheeky statements like this would come off as just that–blunt and cheeky, if there weren’t two or three on every page of the zine. After a while the insistent recommendations begin to seem a little judgmental and narrow-minded.
Simple Sal includes vegan recipes, cleaning tips, a crafty section, a crossword and a page of jokes. While the content of this zine is a useful compilation of helpful, healthy hints that are economic, environmentally friendly and easy, there isn’t a whole lot that is original in the zine. Most of the art is Microsoft Word clip art and the articles are from various websites; the section about natural beauty products is confusing as it appears to be written by a company that “Sal” recommends, but is presented without context or introduction. Simple Sal might do well to keep it simple and remember that less is more. (Grace Evans)
Zine, Shelley Jo Isaak, 728 8th Avenue West, Kalispell, MT 59901, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org, simplesal.etsy.com