Review: Art Fag #1

Artist(s): Sina Shamsavari.

The days of self-published zines might seem to be mostly behind us, with the availability of webcomics offering a simpler solution for most artists, but some people keep fighting against the rising tide. Such is the case with Sina Shamsavari, a British artist who’s been doing zines since the mid-90s. His latest is the first issue of Art Fag, a 20-page, black & white collection of one-pagers and illustrations of an autobiographical bent.

You might have already seen Sina’s work in anthologies published in the last half-dozen years, but here you get the full treatment, with Sina recounting events from his daily life (the bulk is from August 2012), with a sense of humor that I find far more interesting than the “Look how awful I behave” feeling I get from some autobio artists. Sina also has a way of blending a poetic writing style with the most unexpected circumstances, as can be seen in the opening illustration, which is accompanied by the (should-be) immortal line “He told me to beg him to choke on his cock; it was the nicest thing anyone had said for a long time”. I like cock as much as the next gay guy, but I must admit I wouldn’t have called something like that “nice”. But in Sina’s hands, it does sound nice. That might be because everything in the art he does brings an immediacy to the reading experience, from his faux-naive drawings to the handwritten texts. You feel like you’re with a friend telling you about his life, not with an artist baring all for his art, with the false modesty or even falser exhibitionism that often goes with that.

As for the “daily” aspect of those pages, a good example is the strip you can see above. It conflates Sina’s varied sex life and his more mundane life of friends and family, in a natural, unforced way that I find convincing. And as you can see, he also draws a lot of nicely hairy guys. Think of the time it takes to draw all that body hair! That’s dedication to one’s art.

Sina Shamsavari is an accomplished diarist, no question about that. He doesn’t publish zines as often as I’d like, but I’ll enjoy what he does publish. He also posts strips on this website, where you’ll find out how to buy this zine (it involves Paypal and your money, surprisingly enough).

Comments are closed.