I think it’s pretty easy these days for comics fans to worry about the state of print, especially as larger publishers that only a few years ago started scooping up cartoonists are now cutting back on their graphic novel output.
But if my recent trip to New York’s MoCCA art fest and the upcoming TCAF in Toronto are any indication, print is alive and well in the small press world.
At the center of this microcosm of smartly crafted books is relative newcomer NoBrow Press from the UK who have been consistently knocking out one beautiful book after the next, each one a lovely objet d’art with every part of the printing, from paper choice to ink colours, a considered design decision.
And with the release of the 5th issue of their flagship art book, NoBrow 5, and their imminent appearance at next month’s TCAF, I wanted to share some of my favourite of their recent releases.
JON McNAUGHT – PEBBLE ISLAND
Regular readers will already know that there’s a special place in my heart for Jon McNaught’s Birchfield Close. Pebble Island continues the tradition of quiet, reflective stories of isolation that are as much poetry as they are comics.
Pebble Island comprises three stories, some of which has been available online. But McNaught’s work is made to be seen in print. His images are designed with a printmaker’s eye and he takes full advantage of NoBrow’s signature limited-palette printing style.
BJORN RUNE LIE – THE WOLF’S WHISTLE
Another neat little hardcover beauty, The Wolf’s Whistle is a Richard Scarry meets Wes Anderson fusion of art comics and children’s books. It’s a superhero origin story made with the deft touch of a printmaker, and which might be the title in NoBrow’s catalogue that best showcases the care and attention given to the printing process. The artwork itself is created with the colour separations in mind from the beginning. It gives the artwork a particularly thought-out and cohesive look, and the pages have a tactile quality that you don’t find online, and rarely find in other books.
BEN NEWMAN – THE BENTO BESTIARY
The hardcover edition of the previously-blogged collection of Japanese monster illustrations. Anyone familiar with Ben Newman’s clean geometric illustrations will agree that his style is perfectly suited to capturing the variety and the strangeness of Japanese Yokai.
LUKE PEARSON – HILDAFOLK
Luke Pearson is one of my favourite new cartoonists on the scene, and this little debut comic book is surely just a glimpse at what’s to come, especially going by what else I’ve seen of his online. This graphic folktale would look at right at home in the pages of one of the Flight anthologies along with similar heartwarming fantasy stories.