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.
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.
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.
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.
“That is, you see a picture of Jackson Pollock smoking a cigarette and looking intense and you think “smoking and being super intense are part of what made Jackson Pollock the artist he was”. And then, worst of all, “if I were to start smoking and being all intense then I would increase my ability to create great art”. And worse again if we begin with “Jackson Pollock was an alcoholic and frequently an awful person to be around”, so…”—Pippin Barr, The Meta-Aesthetics of Artists: how emulating the habits of successful artists is not the key to making art.
The upcoming Toronto Mini Maker Faire is at 50% of its funding goal on Ulule (a Kickstarter-like website). Mini Maker Faires are a great venue for artists, hackers, crafters, and creative DIY folk. The event is a lot of work, so this kind of funding is integral. To help, I’m offering original watercolour drawings of robots (fitting, no?) to anyone who donates $25 or more to the project. And custom illustrations to those who donate $100 or more. But even one dollar helps!
Please help if you can. You get some original art, plus the warm feeling of helping out your fellow makers and the greater creative community. Let’s get this ramped up to 100%!
This is a new database being built by people at Ryerson University in Toronto. They are digitizing The Yellow Book and other Victorian magazines, with links to related scholarly resources. Yellow Book is where Aubrey Beardsley really made his work known. Keep checking back over the coming months and years for more.
Since we Canadians are coming up to an election I thought I’d share something patriotic. Unless you are a postcard collector you probably won’t come across these books. They’re produced by Michael J. Smith, who has been collecting vintage Canadian postcards for a loooong time. Although written for collectors and focusing mainly on cataloguing, the book I just bought has 900 colour reproductions of cards from 1903-1920 or so. (Image here is from vintagepostcards.org)
You can also read an essay here by Michael on vintage postcard collecting.
By pledging money, you’ll be buying me the time to give this project the undivided attention that it deserves. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped an up-and-coming cartoonist put out his first book. You’ll also get some really great swag. For more info, check out the kickstarter page!