Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #264: Nobrow 9: It's Oh So Quiet

When you pick up a large trade paperback -- eight by twelve issues, roughly, 128 pages -- in a library, you expect to have a book on your hands. So you can image my surprise when, while googling after reading today's choice, I discovered the awful truth: this object is not a book at all.

It's a magazine.

Oh, sure, it looks like a book, and the publication schedule is pretty attenuated at once a year. (At the publishing company where I work, we put out a lot of books annually, but we don't claim that makes them magazines.) But Nobrow 9: It's Oh So Quiet, the 2014 edition of a showcase of comics and illustration, declares itself to be a magazine, and so it's upended Book-A-Day entirely, and wrecked all of my plans.

(Well, I might be exaggerating just slightly.)

As far as I can tell, since this, um... object itself has no words besides minimal author credits and the requisite copyright announcement, Nobrow is published by a UK group every spring with a different theme, collecting both comics and illustration by a wide variety of creators. (The copyright notice indicates that this one was edited by Sam Arthur, Alex Spiro, and Ben Newman.) All of the work is in soft, desaturated color -- the cover is a good example -- and I have to admit that the artists with work in here are entirely unfamiliar to me.

That's not a bad thing, though: the illustration is stunning and impressive, with each of thirty artists getting a full-bleed spread for their work. And the comics are almost as good, fifteen elliptical four-page stories about quiet moments and strange events. They're all aggressively multi-panel affairs, requiring time and close attention to appreciate -- this is a wordless book, but that doesn't mean you can, or should, roar through it at speed.

Nobrow 9 is instead a publication to be savored, to linger over pages and think about what's so quiet about a particular picture. It's full of interesting art and ideas; if you see it, at least take a minute to look through. But don't forget: it's actually a magazine!

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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