August 29, 2013

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SPX Spotlight 2013: Fanfare/Ponent Mon

Welcome to another entry in the 2013 SPX Spotlight series!  For the next month, I'll be highlighting creators and publishers who will be at the best convention, the Small Press Expo.  You can check out all of my spotlights for SPX from both this year and prior years here.

I'm not sure if it was David Welsh or Ed Sizemore that first pointed me to Fanfare/Ponent Mon, but I am definitely grateful. At a time when most of my manga reading was from the big publishers, they showed me that, just like the world of American comics, Japan also had more independent work to offer.

Both Ed and David have retired from active blogging, and the comics review world is poorer for their loss. However, in their absence, the least I can do is promote the publisher who put me onto books like A Distant Neighborhood and The Walking Man (review here, but be warned, it's an early one), two of my favorite manga of all time.

Jiro Taniguchi forms a fair amount of their catalog and rightfully so. He's a top talent, able to take ordinary people and make their lives worth reading about. A pinnacle of his work (if you'll pardon the pun) is The Summit of the Gods. Volume 4 will be available at SPX this year, and they'll probably have a few of the back trades on sale, too. It's a drama with mountain climbing as its major background, but it's more than just that, as all good stories are.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon also brings Western Comics to the table as well. I've only sampled one of these, My Mommy is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill (review here), but it was excellent and is highly recommended if you can find a copy.

This year, SPX will be the place to get a new set of comics from England that won't make wider distribution until 2014. They are from a new group, Atlantic Press, based out of Cornwall, England.

Stephen described them to me as "Some comics, some illustration, some art but all sheer craft. In their own words they produce 'Books that look like they enjoy being books'."

Here are a description of the titles that will be available at SPX:

  • Micanopy Murders : A killer stalks the night in a dark partnership with the summer storms in this quiet Florida township [where the movie ‘Doc Hollywood’ was filmed]. Book One on offer. Regular retail $15.00
  • Something Amiss on the Moor: Three strange children, a barren windswept moor, a peculiar journey and an engineer’s mistake. Things would never be the same again. Cloth bound $20.00
  • Beyond the Wire: A metafiction based on the First World War, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. This feeling is heightened by the pages, hand-cut as though blown apart by the conflict. $18.00


I've not see any of these new titles yet, but I can speak from personal experience when I tell you that Fanfare/Ponent Mon's books are of top quality stock. They may cost a bit more than similar books from other publishers, but they are built to last and are stories you'll almost certainly want to re-read, and I say this as a person who does not re-read comics very often.

At the show, Stephen generally runs a discount on purchasing more than one book, and he's happy to talk with you about your personal tastes and steer you towards the best comic for you, not just the one he'd like to sell. In that way, he reminds me a lot of Chris from AdHouse, and in some ways, the two companies share a lot of similarities. Also, Fanfare/Ponent Mon tends to sell out quickly, so if there is something you like--grab it!

If you are a comics fan looking for a way to expand your horizons and maybe sample manga for the first time or see what the world of translated materials has to offer, Fanfare/Ponent Mon is a must-see publisher at the show.

Mountain Climbing instead of going to SPX? Well, when you get back into wi-fi range, go to Fanfare/Ponent Mon's website, where you can order their books directly.