There is a genre of self-published comics that seems to be very far removed from the rest of the scene. The artists concerned seem to come from a different starting point from many of the creators I've featured here before. They show little sign of the influence of Marvel, DC, 2000AD or even Manga but owe more to book illustration or in some cases European comics. I'm never been quite sure how to describe these comics so for want of a better term I'm going to call them Craft Comics.
This group of comics tend to have excellent production values with
high-quality printing using paper stock you won't see anywhere else. When
they are good, they are very, very good and are objects to be treasured, but
there are occasions where there is a bit of a case of "The Emperor's New
Clothes", with form overwhelming content. I've come across a few of those recently, but I prefer to write about the impressive stuff.
I've bought a couple of her books, from her Etsy shop, (a good source for zines
and mini-comics). Firstly Njalla, issued in a print run of 250, is a
story of the Sami people who live in the northern regions of Norway, Sweden,
Finland and Russia. It deals with their religion and folklore and more
specifically with an Arctic Fox who runs through the mountains, igniting
sparks, lightning and fires in the sky with his tail.
Many pages are wordless and in some ways these are the pages which are most successful in storytelling terms. Rozi's style is illustrative and owes little to any comics I've
read before. The figures look to be drawn in pencil with colour added
over the top using inks and Gouache. The palate is a subtle mixture of
blue and green, capturing the essence of both the northern lights, and the long
northern night of the Arctic Circle. The colours used and the shading have a
natural, organic look to them and I find myself picking the book up from time
to time just to look at a few of pages.
It's not a long read, and it does not have much plot to it, but I've kept
coming back to it, and perhaps it’s just that it’s a calming, beautiful thing to
look it, rather than I'm getting a deeply involving narrative but that's more than enough. This is one of the self-published comics I've enjoyed most this year.
I also picked up, Ø. It’s a short 16-page
story Rozi submitted to "kuš! Comics" the highly regarded Latvian international
comics anthology. Ø didn't make it, but Rozi has once again done a beautiful
job of printing to book herself. In some ways this is a companion piece to
Njalla. The same mythic quality, the same swirling colour, the same
illustrative style. But Ø gives the feeling of summer heat, instead of
blues and greens the predominate colours here are purples and pinks and there
is a final page which would works as a single image on its on and I can't help thinking would make a stunning print. The
theme of the story is friendship and family. Perhaps its not quite as strong
a piece as Njalla, but its still visually quite stunning. The two books seem to represent winter and summer, I wonder do we have spring and autumn on the way?
and her Etsy shop where she sells her comics and "other shiny things"and see what you think.
On the other end of the size scale for what I'm still a bit dubious about calling craft comics is the London Company
Nobrow. Formed in 2008 by Sam Martin and Alex Spiro, Nobrow publishes the
work of artists both new and established and from all over the
I've probably been most impressed by what they call their 17X23 range.
A set of beautifully printed, highly original comics from some superb
As an example, Vacancy, by Jen Lee, is the story of a domestic dog left
alone in a world without mankind. His purpose gone, he has not dared to
leave his yard and has been staring out into the wild woods. Finally he's
cajoled into pairing up with a racoon and a deer. What follows is
a freighting journey for the three new friends as they search for food and
strive to avoid the "preds" Jen Lee's art is
stylish, capturing the oppressive atmosphere of the wild beautifully and her
animal characters have all the vulnerability of teenagers lost in a dangerous
Joe Sparrow's "The
Hunter" is a morality tale about a man who has sworn to kill one of every
creature alive. It has the feel of one of a Grimm's fairy tales and I
don't mean the cleansed Disney versions either. This owes more to Edgar
Allan Poe than Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. A thoroughly enjoyable
tale. Joe's art is a delight, deceptively simple and cartoon like, he
manages to communicate feelings and fears perfectly in the wordless sections of
Other books in the series worth looking at are "Golemchik" by
William Exley, Bianca Bagnarelli's "Fish" and "The New
Ghost" by Robert Hunter. All of the creators have something
interesting to say and all of the books are immaculately produced.
The rest of the catalogue is equally interesting. I've recently read
"Einstein" by Corinne Maier and Anne Simon, first published by
Dargaud in France, it’s a fascinating biography that sat easily on the shelf
with the excellent Logicomix that I reviewed in my previous post. I'm now
looking forward to their companion volumes on Freud and Marx. 2016 also
saw the first volume of a trilogy of historical fantasies by Alexis Deacon,
Geis a Matter of Life and Death. A wonderful square bound hardback, which
reminds me of storybooks from the forties or fifties.
Perhaps when the next volume comes out I'll write a full post on it, but for
now I'll just say that it was one of the most impressive books I've read all
Nobrow are an excellent publisher, the material they publish is almost always original and and a huge amount of care is taken over every aspect of their production. These are books that it is a pleasure to hold , the paper is always of a very high quality, the printing and binding of a quality you don't often see today and their selection of material is always fascinating. Nobrow remind me a little of Fantagraphics, so long as you ignore the wildly pretentious stuff that the American publisher sometimes brings out, they have great variety in their offering and publish things you would simply not see anywhere else. Check out their website here.
But just remember, there are many creators like Rozi who are doing it all themselves.
You can find them on Etsy or on Kickstarter and if any of you are reading this
then please get in touch with me and I’ll be very happy to mention your comics in Splank!
The British comics’ scene really is very varied and vibrant and it does
not take very much searching to find something a wee bit special. Now Nobrow, how about talking to Rozi about an addition to your 17x23 range?