The fourth in Landfill Editions’ Mould Map series, the Eurozone Special is the first of the comics anthologies to be produced without a visual cue as its starting point. Rather, this edition is focussed on European artists and their ideas for its possible futures. As Hugh Frost, Mould Map’s co-editor alongside Leon Sadler, describes: “As usual there’s a sci-fi feel running throughout but it has a journalistic undercurrent too, touching on trade deals, privatised extradition flights, currency forgery, surveillance culture and even just getting by in this crazy neo-liberal world.”
Known for its colour palettes, Mould Map 4 continues the tradition with a split between four colour fluorescents and metallics on a pitch black base. The artists had free reign within their sections, such as Stefan Sadler’s acid palette for his comic about drinking too much of an energy drink called Assault Water and Hanna K’s minimal line work against a muted yellow to communicate her setting of a dehydrated desert. The Eurozone Special covers many bases, including archive material alongside the commissioned work, such as -Frigidaire magazine and how its editors had encouraged cartoonists to reference Italian current affairs of the 70s. The anthology also features pieces on the life of once forgotten countercultural ephemera, the inflatable utopianism of early community art in the UK and the role art can play outside the commercial gallery system.
Concerned with communicating the role of design-fiction in visualising near-future possibilities that sit outside the current, dominant approaches to political and public life, Mould Map 4 presents some of the “seemingly strange and risky but nonetheless viable schemes buried in academic white-paper proposals,” test-driving them through comics and other narrative forms. The Eurozone Special also features work operating from a more personal perspective, such as Leon Sadler and Grace Wilson’s project during the Scottish Independence Referendum. Hugh says: “Leon and Grace were posting pieces of pretty goofy, funny work that captured their personal take on the two votes and were a lot more approachable than the usual news article or petition posting stuff. It seemed like that type of work could offer a way in for people who may not typically be that interested.”
The final approach to tackling possible futures in relation to our political present was through communication in the form of visual journalism: “Potentially wide-reaching economic schemes like TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership) are designed to be impenetrable and boring so as to attract as little attention as possible. We tried to cover them in our own way, with strips featuring characters figuring out what TTIP is and how it might affect them and also in a more open work by Daniel Swan, envisioning a ruined landscape as the final endgame of a Europe run solely for private financial gain.”
Here Hugh goes into more detail on the work of three of the artists contributing to the anthology, as well as this issue’s cover. First off is Yuri Pattison whose pages feature scanned counterfeit coins with a short text on their origins, commonly forging factories in Italy and, more recently, China. Hugh says: “It’s a simple but effective work which manages to catch the abstract, symbolic and absolute material value of currency in a ‘FIAT’ system, where there’s no physical reserve to regulate a currency value.” Yuri’s work can also be related to the work of the group New Economics Foundation who make public a lot of research about re-imagining currencies on local scales with schemes, such as the Bristol Pound.
Second is Patrick Crotty, who contributed two works, “a high-energy strip about Onion, an intern protesting ‘Buy Nothing Month’ with a group of businessmen in a near-future city and a page of inspirational tokens encouraging high self-esteem.” The tokens reference this summer’s publishing success story of the adult colouring book, thought to be best-sellers due to the link to rising stress levels in high pressure, low paid work. Third is New Scenario who produced “a glistening, nauseating portfolio of 8 pages…based on their concept of ’a slimy grid’. A living internet where humans are more likely blood cells floating through interconnected highway vessels, exchanging information controlled and supplied by a self-eating and self-feeding sun-powered conscious super organism.” The German collective are know for curating shows outside of the typical gallery setting, Hugh first heard of them through their debut show of sculptures and paintings shot in a stretch-limo Hummer.
And finally to the cover, designed by Hugh and Leon with the art direction of “Business Alien” it has “elements from academic near-future scenario planning texts, reconfigured tyre manufacturer logos, TTIP/IMF wallpaper and a ghostly bio-network undercover created by New Scenario.” For all it’s visual and thematic complexity, Mould Map 4 makes a series of coherent proposals of what and where the overlap may be between sci-fi nightmare and the political economics of today, with a clear sense of purpose and humour.
About the Author
Billie studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art before completing an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She joined It’s Nice That as a Freelance Editorial Assistant back in January 2015 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis.