Increasingly visible on my radar is the work of Nobrow Press, the young UK comics publisher whose diverse catalogue has been making critical waves both here and abroad since launching just a few years ago. Most recently, ComicsAlliance spoke with cartoonist Dustin Harbin about his magnificent Behold! The Dinosaurs!, a Nobrow leporello -- a book that unfolds panoramically for maximum visual effect. That interview was conducted by CA contributor Zainab Akhtar, who's written extensive coverage of the Nobrow line and its dedication to visually splendiferous comics designed especially for print, using high quality materials and techniques that I will never understand, but which are manifestly excellent. The books are authored by idiosyncratic talents both fresh and seasoned, and cover a wide range of genres, topics and audience demographics. Crucially, every Nobrow release is imbued with a sensitivity and care for the final product that is rarely seen in our mass-marketed American industry, making the reading experience that much more immersive and indeed refreshing.
This year saw the publisher earn Eisner nominations for Luke Pearson's Hilda and the Bird Parade (Best Publication for Kids Ages 8-12 and Best Writer/Artist), Nobrow #8: Hysteria (Best Anthology), Jose Domingo's Adventures of a Japanese Businessman (Best U.S. Edition of International Material), and Nobrow is armed to the teeth with an ambitious slate of compelling new work set to debut in the Spring of 2015.
Among those comics is Fantasy Sports, an oversized and expanded graphic novel edition of Sam Bosma's self-published Fantasy Basketball, itself one of ComicsAlliance's picks for the Best Comics Of 2013; and Vacancy, a 17x23 comic by Jen Lee, a contributor to CA favorites Wolfenjump and Teen Dog, that Nobrow describes as "a take on Homeward Bound if all the animals were millennials and all the people were dead." Sounds like our kind of jam.
The Spring slate includes four additional titles in the 17x23 format, some of which feature the first published work of some extremely talented cartoonists, as well as three full length graphic novels. You can sample the entire lineup below and stay tuned for more coverage of some of these tantalizing new comics in the months ahead.
The Spectators, by Victor Hussenot
April 2015, 128 pages, hardcover, full color
What if we are merely shadows of our choices? If our characters are defined by simple inflections of light and chance? What if, instead of actors, we are mere spectators? Awash in subtle color, gently carrying the narrative and allowing readers to envelop themselves in the lyricism of the work, this 128 page graphic novel by one of France’s hottest young cartoonists is a beautiful watercolor story that will demand as much attention as it will reward with its poetic and philosophical introspection of man. Reminiscent of French New Wave cinema with its clipped dialog, gentle pacing and departure from a classic narrative structure, The Spectators is a gorgeous, forward-looking example of what comics has become and what the artform can share.
Fantasy Sports, by Sam Bosma
July 2015, 56 pages, hardcover, full color
An oversized graphic novel expanding the Ignatz-award winning Fantasy Basketball to feature length and full color, Fantasy Sports tells the story of a young explorer and her musclebound friend on their trip treasure hunting in a mummy’s tomb. Brooklyn’s own Sam Bosma blends the flavor of 1960’s sports manga with the boldness of a Mike Mignola line, and the hilarity begins when their bandaged adversary demands a game of hoops! With riches in the wings (and eternal entombment as possible consequence), it all comes down to one intrepid young woman and her slam dunk skills in this YA adventure.
750 Years in Paris, by Vincent Mahé
August 2015, 120 pages, hardcover, full color
War. Revolution. Architecture. Art. If you could stand still and just look for 750 years, what could you learn about the world? In August, it will be time to find out in this unique graphic novel that tells the story of one single Parisian building over the course of seven and a half centuries through all the upheavals of French history. Following his work in Nobrow 8: Hysteria, 750 Years in Paris finds Vincent Mahé grappling with the edges of communication that illustration allows in this hypnotic study of time and place.
April 2015, 24 pages, saddle stitched, full color
Jen Lee (the cartooning powerhouse from an Idaho farmhouse responsible for the popular webcomic Thunderpaw) is coming to print for the relaunch of Nobrow’s 17X23 single issue comic line. Now with a new, much lower price ($5.95), the 17X23 line that launched the careers of Luke Pearson (Hildafolk) and Rob Hunter (The New Ghost) will see five new releases in 2015, starting with Vacancy—the story of a dog in a hoodie and glasses who might not be ready to live in the wild, no matter how much the post-apocalypse might need him to. A funny (and best of all, kind) take on Homeward Bound if all the animals were millennials and all the people were dead, Vacancy is the sort of comic that you’d hand to someone who just woke up from a coma—by they time they finished it, they’d be all caught up on what today’s culture gets right.
The Hunter, by Joe Sparrow
May 2015, 24 pages, saddle stitched, full color
The Hunter, the second release in the 17X23 line sees Joe Sparrow taking a cue from Frozen and Super Nintendo with his 16 bit remix of a long, long time ago. In this acerbic fairy tale, one arrogant young hunter has grown tired of the simple bloodsport that occupies his friendless days. But when he hears of a mythical beast that sounds strangely like the animals he’s already conquered, mania takes hold. Can our (anti) hero survive with his arrogance intact? There will be (video game style) blood!
Golemchik, by William Exley
June 2015, 24 pages, saddle stitched, full color
Abandoned by his friends, one young boy goes searching for fun - and finds a golem on the hunt for the same, in this 17X23 comic by British cartoonist William Exley. But as the two go about living out their dreams of having the best summer ever, the boy realizes that golems don’t know how to take it easy! To save his town, he’ll have to get his new friend under control…or else everybody else in the neighborhood is going to do it for him!
Lost Property, by Andy Poyiadgi
July 2015, 24 pages, saddle stitched, full color
From the pen of British cartoonist Andy Poyiadgi, Lost Property is the story of a young mailman named Gerald who comes across something pretty fantastic: a small shop, packed to the brim with everything in his life he has ever misplaced. From socks to yearbooks, this surreal repository of his life sends our confused friend into the maelstrom of memory, whisking him back through the crossroads that shaped his life. But what really matters, of course, is what he decides to do next!
Cyber Realm, by Wren McDonald
August 2015, 24 pages, saddle stitched, full color
Wren McDonald—another Brooklynite, this one by way of Florida—brings us the darkly hilarious story of a father’s revenge in a cybernetic world of horror. In a dismal future ruled by a tyrannical nerd who has taken all technology for himself, one man is making his way through the type of trials that usually face a Liam Neeson kind of guy. But instead of relying on a gravely voice and guns, our protagonist enlists the help of whatever old piece of robotics he can attach to his sweaty torso, in the hopes of an earth-shattering, revenge-earning brawl.