In 2007 Annie Koyama founded Koyama Press which set out to publish a diverse and eclectic range of titles. Toronto-based Annie and her team still support a wide range of emerging and established artists, and 2015 sees their biggest output to date with 12 titles and a handful of mini comics being released this year. Known for their edge and wide scope of genres, we were keen to find out which books in Annie’s extensive collection hold a special place on her Bookshelf. With alternative comics, art books and a bit of trade fiction all featuring, Annie’s selection is as varied as the titles she publishes.
Marc Bell: Nog A Dod
This is a Canadian anthology edited by the super talented Marc Bell. It’s full of doodles, collage, paintings and collaborative drawings. Since I was late to the alternative comics party, I was introduced to the work of Jason McLean, Amy Lockhart, Peter Thompson and Mark Connery amongst others via this book and it’s been fun to see the work that they’ve produced in the ensuing years.
Xavier Robel + Helge Reumann: Elvis Road
This is one of my favourite books. It’s a 24 page accordion-style book that you can spend hours reading. I read that it took the artists’ a year to draw the pages. Each page is densely filled with thousands of characters in a crazy world which is both familiar and dreamlike. The book feels like a stream of consciousness commentary on the state of the world. I’ve given this book to many of the artists that I’ve published. A friend and I fully opened and stretched the twenty-four pages out along a busy sidewalk once to get a better look at the work as a whole.
Henry Darger: Klaus Biesenbach
I am drawn to a combination of the beautiful and creepy and Darger’s work encapsulates that for me. The polarities of good and evil and innocence corrupted in a raw, outsider art style is fascinating. Darger’s backstory is very interesting and provides insight into why he found such subject matter compelling.
This two-book set is a joy to go through page by page. In this book there’s sometimes more information imparted in a wordless page than on a page with text. Although Gary’s well known for his character and set designs for Pee-wee’s Playhouse, his paintings and comics are amazing, I’d love for him to do more installations with or without collaborators. His book Dal Tokyo is fantastic as well. It may be challenging to read but that’s not a bad thing at all.
I enjoy his take on science-fiction and my mind animates some of his work as I read it. To my mind, Gary can do anything, and like any good artist, he draws you into his worlds to explore at your own pace. It’s no surprise that he’s influenced so many other artists.
Marjorie Henderson Buell: Little Lulu
I loved the Little Lulu comic when I was a kid. The colours seemed bright and muted at the same time and that screen-tone effect was memorable. My sister lent me this issue from 1949! I could look at that cover for a long time. I wish everyone had such warm memories of comics that they read in their youth.