Deep anime classics, off-beat Hollywood dramas, and Hong Kong action flicks in ‘Drifting Cry Room #51’


Drifting Cry Room #51

Movie fanzine, Nick Bernal, 10 pgs, San Diego Public Library Zine Collection

This excellent San Diego-based movie fanzine is, by all appearances, a long-running institution amongst the indie movie theater and video rental enthusiast crowd. Under the care of editor Nick Bernal, a proud ambassador of movie theater employees, Drifting Cry Room has a true zinester composition and ethic. Perhaps a bit too quick to reveal that he prints the zine surreptitiously on the time and dime of his employer, Bernal is nonetheless a suitable ringleader in this project that claims to offer a secret window into film fandom from a cinema crew perspective — like record store clerks writing a music zine, but without the snobbery. Printed either on Risograph or traditional screen printing, with the pages each alternating ink colors between blue, green and black, there’s a lot of visual appeal. Volume 51, it is explained, comes fresh off a landmark 50th issue, which, as Bernal tells it, was a quite hefty and risky print job. Perhaps that’s why an issue hasn’t found its way to Broken Pencil until now. Or perhaps there is no volume 50, and we’ve been had…

That’s right! This zine is not actually an old-school zine seasoned by decades of publishing — it is, instead, something of a tribute to that type of zine. A fanzine of a fanzine if you will. Bernal’s micro-press Burn All Books (get it?) is also behind the convincingly earnest semi-hoax Possessed Fanzine. That same special flavour of trickery has made this zine wholly convincing!

I must admit I fell for it. Perhaps that’s because “Nick” and company put on no airs — there’s no pretention detected here, just genuine reviews of real movies. They do not proffer trash, nor deal in irony by fetishizing the lowbrow. They instead strike a more positive attitude, while the writing is still super-informed about each film’s context. The reviews include a wide range of reviews: deep anime classics, off-beat Hollywood dramas, Hong Kong action flicks, everything down to arty French shit. The para-textual elements such as the opening letters and the misrepresentation of the zine’s publishing history are simply brilliant touches by the artists behind this gem. The fun part is they have published several more since it seems.

Whichever slippery reality it occupies, DCR is staunchly print-mediated, with nothing but a mailing address listed inside and little web presence. If you want to jump in on the fun, go ahead and write Nick a letter. By my reading, it’ll be worth your time.