Amrit Brar started her zine Shitty Horoscopes when was in her fourth year at Toronto’s OCAD University and deep into trying to finish the school’s illustration program. Basically, she was fed up. “I’ve always had a seriously bad sense of humor, and my bitterness about things tends to translate into awful jokes,” she says. “I started doing the series because I was super disenchanted with illustrating and I just wanted something to be fun again”
In each zine, Brar pairs her occult-ish black and white drawings with sarcastically dark phrases like “in the end there is no blaze of glory” and “may fortune favour the fuckups.” The idea initially was to satirize daily newspaper horoscopes, whose predictions can be read as either incredibly meaningful or incredibly vague, depending on your mindset, but Brar soon became obsessed with the concept. “It sort of took over my life for a little while,” she says. “I love that some of them are a little poignant, some are nonsensical, and others just flip you off.”
Brar—who identifies as “a diasporic, queer, Sikh, Punjabi woman”—first began selling Shitty Horoscopes at LGBT zine fairs. “I figured a horoscope series would be fun, since queers love the stars for some reason,” she says.
Now Brar has collected the twelve volumes of the Shitty Horoscope in a 182- page book, which was quickly fully-funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Though the captions can seem random, the feeling for each one is drawn from a source in her personal life. “I am lucky enough to have five younger siblings with extremely straightforward personalities and a few very close, very wonderful friends—a full range of all the signs of the zodiac when I add them up,” she says. “Nine times out of ten something that I’ve written in the series is directly connected to someone I love very much.”
That’s a pretty sunshine-y note to end an article about such dark books on, so here’s how Brar describes where she picks the captions: “I check out my old journals, things I wrote on convenience store receipts, long showers, old knives, small bones, teeth.” Grim.