Zine Review: Broken Romance Vol. 1


Flash fiction zine, Josh Rosen, 16 pgs, joshdraws.com, $3

Mail-out zines are so often associated with undercutting pop culture and reclaiming something authentic that when a little Xeroxed booklet called Broken Romance finds its way to my desk, it feels like we’re going back to basics. Author-illustrator Josh Rosen has reinterpreted the jacket image of a typical romance novel as his own; edited to include uni-brows, vampire teeth, and swords jutting out of appendages. The effect is fun, with contents acting in conjunction with the title to set up a satire on pop culture’s depiction of love. The zine’s actual content, though, takes itself surprisingly seriously. Rosen packages six little pieces of flash fiction into the 16-page booklet, each separated by a little gallery of unrelated drawings. The narratives travel from over-encumbered teenage love talk (ie. “There was no maliciousness in any of our desire, no intent outside of that single moment”) to some  genuinely striking images (“Liquefied mulch poured into her weary crack of a mouth…”). The illustrations are more interesting. Playful characters tell simple stories, even when the adjacent prose seems a little caught up in itself. Romance remains largely intact at the conclusion of Josh Rosen’s Broken Romance, but it hits the mark just often enough to be worth a look. (Joel W. Vaughan)