Reading this amazingly named perzine series is a touching and intense experience. The zines are incredibly personal, going deep into Billy Starfield’s life, childhood and mental health. The first two issues follow very difficult times for them, their struggles clear throughout. It’s especially intense to see the mess that is the medical system, and how it deals with mental health consumers. Starfield’s experiences are, unfortunately, not unique, but they are insightful. There are a lot of barriers when accessing mental health care in Canada (or anywhere for that matter) and anytime someone is able to speak to those experiences, it’s important to listen.
The third issue of Trauma Castle brings a kind of healing. It’s a staggered healing, but there is repair nonetheless. Billy experiences a kind of rebirth and a refocusing in their life, something we all need at some point.
Starfield’s zines are relatable and real, especially to other trans people with mental illnesses — I for one could read stories from Starfield’s life forever. They have a rare gift when it comes to storytell-ing. The little snippets of the summer they fell in love with their friend’s older sister were so amazing, I would love an entire zine about that summer alone. Latchkey kids love to read about other latchkey kids!
All of this is packaged in Starfield’s heavy cut-and-paste, pastel style. Using imagery that heavily contrasts with the content, there’s a big focus on cutesy Lisa Frank and Kewpie doll bits and pieces all slapped together on paper with their words. Intensive collaging means the majority of each page is filled to the brim, making it a fun game to search the pages for all the little details that Starfield has hidden within. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next issue.