The Encyclopedia of Doris is more than the sum of its Dorises. I'm often not crazy about zine collections because zines read better individually. They're complete unto themselves and are particular to the moment they're published. With the Encyclopedia Cindy edited together nine years of Doris content, plus articles and interviews from other zines and magazines, and so it reads like a complete work, rather than awkwardly connected episodes.
While I LOVE (I'm not just saying that, I was enamored of Cindy, her writing, and her activism from start to finish and still am) the book overall, there are a couple of pieces that end up being redundant to each other, and I think the reading experience would have been better if the book were shorter than its dense 322 pages.
Although I say the book is dense--it's a zine; margins are tight--I don't mean to imply that it's text heavy. There are plenty of Cindy's signature stick figure drawings and comics, and a few portraits that make you realize Cindy's artistic talent is more than the sum of her heads-floating-over-their-bodies no-armed people and crude flora. (The stick figures are lovable and artistically wrought, but I just didn't know that she could do fancier stuff, as well.)
I dogeared a lot of pages to quote passages in this review, but it's hard because I want to include the whole page, and that seems excessive. So here are a few descriptions of my favorites that may lead you to find them for yourself:
page 18: I Believe
Cindy talks about why she started writing a zine and why they're important, including with regard to feminism
page 138: Letters of Introduction
Cindy equates zines to calling cards and 1920s Gertrude Stein-era letters of introduction.
page 160: Multiplicities
Cindy explore her multiple personalities. The "note to reader" is what kills me. "the following narratives are by three real people who all share the same body - Kira, Kalir (not her real name) and Kiki." How much do you love her giving one of the voices a pseudonym?!?
pages 187-189: Punk Planet interview by Debbie Rasmussen
DR But to me your zines have always seemed very political, very anarchist. Just not in that hammering-you-over-the-head sort of way.
CC Maybe that's what I mean. Maybe I thought I had to write about issues, and then I could embody it in other ways. That everything inside of me is political, I mean I think about politics all the time. But I didn't have to figure out how to write about politics, it wasn't something separate from my writing, if I was writing what I cared about, because what I care about is changing the world.
me: Amen, sister!
page 239: Do you have any secret habits?
"When I feel especially ugly I like to wear my tiara. When I feel especially lonely I put on a purple or yellow prom gown. When I feel especially bad at everything I get out the chainsaw and cut shit up."
page 308: Words
"I am sick of the blame and self blame. We have had practically everything taken away from us and can not always speak. And what kind of world are we building? If it's still seen as our responsibility to say something? Why isn't it their responsibility to ask and watch for signs and signals and ask again?"
pages 311-312: Writing
Why Cindy writes Doris, a comic.
page 316: Epilogue
"I told Caty, 'I've got a new full-time job.'
"'What is it?'
""Trying to make friends.'"
You've read almost the whole book and you're in total awe of Cindy by now, and then you read this bit where she again shows her vulnerability, and you think to yourself, "this kind, fierce woman who I admire so much might be lonely sometimes, and might even want to be my friend."
page 322: Zines
This great piece on zines ends Cindy's encyclopedia. Like the rest of the book it's both fierce and poignant. I think it would be uncool to quote the last two sentences of the book here, so you'll have to read it for yourself.
Finally, the self-published book is well-produced, from the printing to the front and back covers, to the cataloging-in-publication data and a great typewritten copyright statement that ends with, "...without the prior permission of the publisher. unless its something you're just doing because you love it and not for any commercial gain. then you can use a little part. you can always write me if you have questions. plus I'd love to know what you are doing!"