August 22, 2012

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SPX Spotlight 2012: Koyama Press

Welcome to another entry in my SPX Spotlight 2012!  You can find all of my SPX Spotlight posts, including those from past years, by clicking here.

Today's spotlight falls on a publisher making their SPX debut, one that I admit I am not terribly familiar with, but I am looking forward to meeting them at SPX this year and picking up a a few books.

Founded in 2007 by Annie Koyama (hence the name), the publisher has a healthy number of books behind its name already, mostly from artists that, according to a recent interview, Koyama herself likes.  In this way, she reminds me quite a bit of Chris Pitzer of AdHouse books, another small publisher with a stable of artists that Pitzer himself likes.

Looking over the roster of existing books and artists shows that Ms. Koyama sure has an eye for quality.  Dustin Harbin, Colleen Frakes, Joseph Lambert, Michael DeForge, and Chris Eliopoulos are just a few of the names you might recognize.  Even Ed Emeberly has some involvement with Koyama.  I spent a little time looking over the art of some of those featured on the artist page and came away both impressed and planning to spend some money if the books look as good as the samples.

Based on what I saw, there is something for everyone.  Some artists are finely detailed, like Harbin, or do illustrations that could easily be framed in a gallery.  Others are more alternative comix work, which is sure to appeal to many of those attending the Small Press Expo.  The variety from one small publisher is actually quite amazing and I think you'll be impressed.

For their Fall 2012 lineup, which should be available at SPX, Koyama has four titles available, details of which can be found on the news page.  I have not ready any of them yet, but all of them look interesting and I expect I'll leave the show with at least one or two of them, depending on my show budget.

 The Infinite Wait and Other Stories by Julia Wertz promises short stories with looks at everyday life and personal moments.  The autobiographical comic genre can sometimes get a bit crowded, but from the previews I saw on Ms. Wertz' site, this one looks like it might rise above the gang, if only because one story features something I used to do.  I think a big draw to auto bio comics is to have a connection to the work, and it seems like I might be able to relate to Wertz's life.  Fans of the genre and creators such as Jeffrey Brown and Gabrielle Bell definitely need to take a look.

Lose #4 by Michael DeForge.  Other comics fans that I respect really dig DeForge, though I am only familiar with him in the vaguest possible terms, based on twitter links I've gone to here and there.  He works in the one-man anthology genre, which I'm really getting into lately, so I'm looking forward to checking this one out.  When a comic is described as "a comic that blends the banal with the bizarre to create a mélange that is filled with horror and discomfort, humanity and humour" it gets placed squarely on my radar.  From the descriptions, this looks like people who enjoy Noah Van Sciver and others
like him should investigate.

The Big Team Society League Book of Answers by Toronto jam comics collective Team Society League (Aaron Costain, John Martz, Steve Wolfhard, and Zach Worton) might be the most intriguing of the bunch because it has the potential to be the type of book I might not normally like, but will absolutely fall in love with upon scanning it.  Comics collaboration was a lot of fun in those Whole Story books I read, and this one promises "an adorable cast of characters doing abominable things" which sounds pretty awesome.  Of the four comics, I think this is hardest to predict who might best enjoy it without a reading.  While you're at the table, why not just take a peek and see if it's for you?

Diary Comics 4 by Dustin Harbin is another small collection of the introspective, insightful, and opinionated cartoonist who draws some of the thinnest lines I've ever seen.  If you ever catch Harbin on Twitter, you know that he's extremely thought-provoking (even if you don't agree with him, as I don't on Comixology, for instance) and his comics are no exception.  With finely detailed visuals to go along with his meditations, a Harbin book is an exercise in dialogue and expression that is almost unique in comics.  Anyone who likes to theorize should be a fan of Harbin, if they aren't already.

I'm looking forward to adding Koyama Press to my list of things I want to seek out at SPX.  From what I've seen based on its website, you should, too!