We very recently had the pleasure of featuring in Things a collection of miniature comic strips in a hand printed box (by a human assembly line as we found out) from Swiss independent publishers, B.ü.L.b comix. Mathieu Christe and Nicolas Robel, image makers in their own right (there is already a Robel size space saved over at Drawn & Quarterly) realise how essential it is to develop their own work, but “publishing the work of others helps us look outside and share what we care about: illustration, comics, fine books publishing”. So with a unaffected honesty that’s lasted them over 10 years (“we’re still here you bastards!”) they’re the guys behind it all.
Their site is a great archive of their endeavours and it’s informative too, with the processes and history fully documented and, if like me you’re uni-lingual, you can enjoy the oddly poetic tone of our friend Google translate. But we thought we’d catch up with them anyways…
Can you tell us something about the format of the comics? Why boxes and miniature strips?
The production side was key in the process of defining the collections’ formats (2w, 25w, 40w…). Although offset printed, the initial idea was to be able to xerox any project on DIN A4 and A3. The goal of the 2[w] collection was to create an intimate and joyfully original tiny artistic space for illustrators’ we like. The format and binding offers infinite narrative possibilities, not possible in the form of classical books.
You have a very special roster of artists that include the likes of Chris Ware, Henning Wagenbreth, Tom Gauld and ATAK – how did these contributions come about? Did you approach them or do artists approach you?
Most of the time, we get in touch with the artists. Tom Gauld is one of the few exceptions. He came to our desk at the Angoulême festival, we talked and he offered us one of his comics. Enough to tease us: style, craft, DYI. As Nicolas is part of the illustration and graphic novels private society, it helps to connect.
“We’re still here, you bastards” is an excellent motto, how much have you retained your original independent spirit in publishing?
Everything. No compromises and total editorial freedom. We print all the books in Geneva, Switzerland, without any grants. It works with the support of everyone involved: authors, friends and us. We do invite french literate to read our Manifesto here. It says it all.
What’s the plan for 2011?
First of all, administrative plans as we need to organise our own distribution/diffusion in Europe because of a bankruptcy. Then, we’ll be more than excited to plan new editorial projects: 2wBOXes Sets X, Y, Z and Nicolas’s brother, Xavier Robel’s sketchbooks to name a few.
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