To borrow from Stan Lee every Colossive Cartographies review is somebody’s first so if you’re unaware of the format of what has become micropublisher Colossive Press’s signature series keep reading. Those well-versed in the Broken Frontier Awards-nominated title have permission to scroll down a couple of paragraphs and resume reading from there.
The tactile Colossive Cartographies series uses a process called the Turkish Map Fold. An A4 sheet of paper is taken, folded into an A6 cover which then opens up as an interactive physical item. To date 40-plus “issues” have been published by Colossive. Some are very much comics, many are more strictly graphic narrative, but all of them take this unique method of presentation and exploit it to its full potential. Contributors to date have included such notable names as Olivia Sullivan, Peony Gent, Douglas Noble and Gareth A Hopkins.
What’s interesting about the ten editions from #33-#42 is that most of the artists involved will probably not be as well known to more comics-focussed audience. There are exceptions to that of course and, indeed, British small press comics legend Ed Pinsent’s ‘Astorial Cutaway’ (above) is one of the cleverest Cartographies to date in its use of every aspect of the format. Opening up into a single scene of a feuding couple in an apartment it relies on the reader referring to the list of the numbered items featured on the legend that sits in the folds to gain a sense of narrative perspective. Witty and knowing in delivery, Pinsent has clearly appreciated the unique properties of the Turkish Map Fold in creating this domestic vignette.
Arts activist Rachael House’s ‘You Are Safe Here’ (above) revisits themes of both queer acceptance and adversity which also uses a key to phrases in the fold to allow readers to investigate further, while small press comics creator Ali Hodgson’s ‘Skyward Roots’ (below) tells us of the life of nun and would-be astronomer Catherine Margaret Quayle with a rather lovely Easter Egg for fans of Colossive’s Croydon Spaceport project.
Of the more zine-oriented work in this latest batch Mere Pseud’s haunting combination of text and photography in ‘Seeds and Symptoms’ is an eerily affecting piece of psychogeography. It’s hard not be charmed by Blaise Moritz’s ‘You Will Find the Way’ which subverts the purpose of the traditional map to give us something to celebrate our personal journeys rather than to prescribe them. Mel Gale’s ‘Welcome to Newport’ Is also notable for its gradual movement of the representational into the actual in another Cartography that sits somewhere in that psychogeographical strand.
The most poignant edition in this selection if Maria Teresa Chiapparino’s ‘L’s Story’ (above) which tells one woman’s moving story in nine silent panels. Playing carefully with comics’ between-the-panels relationship with time the interesting exercise here is in reading it initially as a wordless comic, considering your emotional response to the imagery, and then reading the text narration in the fold of the zine.
Accessibly priced, and still providing some of the most intelligent, experimental, graphic narrative in self-publishing it’s reassuring to see the Colossive Cartographies series still going from strength to strength.
Jeff Young, Mere Pseud, Chiara Ambrosio, Blaise Moritz, Mel Gale, Doug Shaw, Maria Teresa Chiapparino, Rachael House, Ali Hodgson, Ed Pinsent (W/A) • Colossive Press, £2.00 each or £10.00 for a bundle of six
Review by Andy Oliver