Stages of Rot is a unique work of anthro-bio-zoological speculative fantasy, and, furthermore, is one that could really only succeed on its own terms in comics form. Here we have a French-flapped softcover containing page after page of lush, full (but muted) color comics, beautifully printed (in Poland) on flat, off-white paper stock, presenting comics inspired by a mix of (mostly) Moebius, Miyazaki and Ernst Haeckel that as often as not is reminiscent of biological, zoological and anthropological illustration. The central visual ploy here is that we are presented with a world in which a splendid array of aquatic animals – whales, dolphins, jellyfish, etc. – populate the skies, together with those, such as birds and insects, that are “normally” airborne. This world is different in other ways, but we are meant to recognize ourselves in its contours. The effect of reading Stages of Rot is of visiting a world that is a strange mirror of our own, reflecting our lives back at us in such a manner as, through the specific differences, we see how our world is arranged in a way that is only one of the many (infinite?) ways it could have been, and how it is that what we take as given in our lives has, in actuality, been “given” to us by… the universe, nature, evolution – god? – that, ultimately, we populate a world not of our own making. Stages of Rot jars us out of our complacency and pushes us to see the inherent strangeness of existence and recognize that the underlying patterns and connections that make the web of life have come to be as they are now through a complex web of circumstance, and this web is dynamic, not static; that everything is always in a state of flux and change, and that, all in all, life is an endless mystery...
Here it is: the third, and final volume of Ex.Mag, from Sweden-based PEOW Studio. As with the first two volumes, this was edited by Wren McDonald under the aegis of PEOW, and they have assembled another great team of contributors. This time around we are treated to all new works by Linnea Sterte, Al Gofa, Delfina Pérez Adán, Tarmasz, Geov Chouteau, Hanna K, Valentin Seiche, Jake Terrell, and PEOW Publisher, Patrick Crotty! Again, as with the first two volumes, the work and production are both excellent. 188 duo-tone (red and brown; in various intensities) pages.
Frog in the Fall is a unique work, with a notable Japanese feel. It has an extremely horizontal format, combined with open spine binding to enable it to easily lay flat while reading, providing readers with an unusally broad spread – close to twenty inches wide, but less than five inches high – that makes for a panoramic landscape that strikes us as working to capture a frog's perspective.
Here's the official PEOW text:
"A young frog (hatched this spring) encounters two toads, who have captured the ghost of a Shungiku flower that withered and died just recently. The spirit yearns for the tropics and so do the two toads. The frog decides to follow them on their journey south. It’s a slice of seasonal life for a frog who experiences everything for the first time. Along the way, the frog has encounters with mice, cats, dogs, trees, persimmons, and other beings. Lessons are learned, and thoughts are exchanged. A meditative road trip, a contemplation on life in general.
Linnea Sterte is one of the most mysterious illustrators in Sweden, but probably one of the absolute best. You may recognise her on Instagram as TurnDeCasette, or from the book Stages of Rot which she released in 2017 which she was also Eisner nominated for.
This is the longest Peow book that we have ever published, at just over 330 pages. The story is told in a landscape format, printed in a solid blue pantone ink on our favourite paper from Munken. The book has an open spine binding and a thick kraft cover with white and blue pantone spot colors. To fit the landscape book comfortably in bookshelves, the book has a rotated slipcase, so that you can store the book vertically."
330 + pages
1 color interior, 2 color cover + full color slipcase (slipcase shown in image at left)
You can see a handful of pages here: https://shop.peowstudio.com/products/a-frog-in-the-fall (just click on the thumbnails below the cover image)
And HERE is a thoughtful, in-depth review of Frog in the Fall that incorporates a discussion of trends in comics that it represents, by Arpad Okay at The Comics Beat, which also presents a few choice spreads from the book.
(We should have this back in 2023. Please check back.)