September 14, 2015

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SPX Spotlight 2015: Cartozia Tales

It's another entry in Panel Patter's SPX SPOTLIGHT series! We've been highlighting creators, publishers, and comics related to SPX since the site opened in 2008, but 2015 marks our fifth year of extensive coverage that is unlike what you'll find elsewhere! It's a great way to create your own personal guide for the show on September 19th and 20th, 2015, in Bethesda, Maryland. Don't miss it! You can find all our SPX SPOTLIGHT posts here.
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Since its inception, Rob McMonigal has been a big proponent of the Cartozia Tales team and wrote an article about them for Panel Patter's SPX coverage in both 2013 and 2014. The Kickstarter for the initial project raised an astounding $44,000 and has been regularly releasing issues ever since. With their 7th issue released last month, and plot threads starting to become connected, the series is building towards a fantastic climax that is sure to delight everyone.
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For those who are unaware, Cartozia Tales is an anthology series that tells the tales of the continent of Cartozia and the varied groups of characters that exist within it. Each section of the book follows residents from a different area of the continent and fills in another piece of the overall puzzle of both the world and the individual characters themselves. The fantasy setting and the large cast of characters invites endless possibilities for the ultimate direction of the series.
If this alone isn't enough to get you to want to buy this series then the unique production most definitely will. At its core, the series is a collaborative process that relies completely on each of its contributors. For each issue, the teams are randomly assigned a section of the world that they haven't written for previously. They are not required to maintain the direction the characters were on previously or even the focus on the characters themselves. This innovative approach ensures that nobody ends up stuck in a rut and forces each member of the team to be aware of the content that they want to make. With no guarantee that the next creator will continue their story, this introduces a restriction on what they are capable of producing and forces them to distil their plot down to its core essence.
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While this may seem like a potentially jarring approach, the art in each chapter maintains a common enough style that reading the book in its entirety remains a smooth experience. The slight differences in artistic expression keeps each section contained in its own little world and helps to divide the book up. On top of that, even though Cartozia may seem like a traditional fantasy setting, the team are inventing creatures and architecture as they go with designs that highlight how talented they really are.
If this project sounds like something you need to read (and it should) a few of the core creators of the series are spending time at SPX so you should go and track them down. Series editor, Isaac Cates, his artistic partner-in-crime, Mike Wenthe, and creative superstar and regular contributor, Lupi McGinty, all have tables at the expo and are going to be waiting with enthusiastic but exhausted grins and massive piles of issues to unload.
With each issue showcasing the talents of different independent guest artists, there is a growing group of Cartozia Tales alumni, some of which are also making an appearance at the expo. Dylan Horrocks (Cartozia Tales #1), Evan Dahm (Cartozia Tales #3), Jon Chad (Cartozia Tales #4), Corinne Mucha (Cartozia Tales #5) and Luke Pearson (Cartozia Tales #5) all have their own individual tables so, if you liked their work on the series, drop by their tables and let them know.
The team put everything up over on their website and you can follow the comic's twitter for regular updates on what they're getting up to.