A very exciting and characteristically quality book has just arrived from NoBrow. The publishers and purveyors of all things illustrated present A Graphic Cosmogony, their first comics compendium. With an introduction by Paul Gravett, excellent cover by Micah Lidberg and each of the 24 featured artists telling ‘their tale of everything’. Think of it like a brief history of the land before time or the alternative genesis (no specific religion though unless your spiritual allegiance lies with the great comic in the sky). We caught up with NoBrow to get the particulars…
Short answer: WE LOVE COMICS! We have been publishing comics for a while now, but wanted to tackle a comics anthology to give the chance to more graphic storytellers to collaborate on a project and see their work in print. We also really wanted to tackle the comics anthology as a concept and as an object (notable pre-cursors being McSweeney’s 13, Kramer’s Ergot and Best of American Comics) but with a Nobrow twist. It was always our intention to explore the comics landscape, Afer all that is where much of the inspiration for setting up Nobrow came from. Without publishers like Drawn and Quarterly and Fantagraphics to pave the way for our efforts in this rather traditional industry we would have been loath to make any progress quickly.
Can you tell us about the choices you made with the overall design and format for the Graphic Cosmogony?
The principle of A Graphic Cosmogony was to have quite a solid concept running through the contributions to make it a consistent whole. Regarding the format, since this was our very first anthology, we thought where better to start than at the very beginning… with creation myths. The book first and foremost had to have some gravitas as an object. The paper cover allowed us to have a canvas for Micah Lidberg’s Beautiful artwork, the cloth spine was a modern nod to those beautiful 19th century Hetzel books of Jules Verne’s stories and the paper was suppossed to approximate the look and feel of something that might be used for a religious text, but be thick enough to maintain the integrity of the saturated colours without bleeding through. The structure of the book itself references the Judeo-Christian concepts of the seven day week and the hours that comprise each of those days (beleive it or not, the ancient Romans operated on 8 day weeks). Hence, 24 artists, 7 pages to create their own universes. Having said all this, we must stress that the Graphic Cosmogony does not seek to espouse any religious beliefs, it’s really just toying with an interesting narrative tradition.
How did you go about selecting the artists and how much editorial control did you have over the stories themselves?
We had to vet the artists carefully first and foremost and yes, editorial control had to rest with us. This was after all a very ambitious project, both in terms of the effort that went into it and financially. Some stories were cut, some artists stood in for others, other stories had to be revisited, many were fine just as they were, but it was certainly a fairly mammoth project as far as Nobrow books go.
Have you met everyone who is in the book? Are they nice?
I have met virtually everyone in it, with the exception of some of our friends from across the pond. They are all very hardworking and talented artists and I would like to commend all of them for their extraordinary work ethic and commitment to the project. If I may, I’d like to credit all of them here: Stuart Kolakovic, Mikkel Sommers, Brecht Vandenbroucke, Luke Best, Rob Hunter, Jon McNaught, Ben Newman, Andrew Rae, Luke Pearson, Jack Teagle, Jon Boam, Jakob Hindrichs, Clayton Junior, Daniel Locke, Isabel Greenberg, Mike Bertino, Nick White, Rui Tenreiro, Sean Hudson, Luc Melanson, Katia Fouquet, Yeji Yun, Matthew Lyons, Liesbeth De Stercke.
What else have NoBrow got up their communal sleeve?
In the long term we will be working on other annuals and many more comics, illustrated books and a veritable cornucopia of other exciting things. In the nearer future we will very soon be receiving delivery of our two latest books The Wolf’s Whistle by Bjorn Rune Lie and The Bento Bestiary by Ben Newman, as well as two new comics by rising stars Clayton Junior and Luke Pearson, entitled Temporama and Hildafolk respectively. Oh and there’s a colouring book by Jon Boam for the Kiddies. Watch this space!
Paul Gravett. Omnipotent?
Paul Gravett is a good friend and has been very supportive of us. We are really grateful for his belief in our publications and for writing such a great introduction to the GC.