Given my, um, patchy record at seeing things through to completion, I’m surprised and delighted at how the Colossive Cartographies have turned out (although the vast majority of the credit for that obviously lands at the feet of the fantastic creators who signed up).
The idea came about after I started tinkering about with bookbinding. One of the small projects I came across was the Turkish Map Fold. It’s an A4 sheet that folds up very efficiently into an A6 cover and then pops open.
Suddenly my imagination ran away with me, and I thought it’d make a nice little format for something in print akin to a series of 7-inch singles. I had in mind things like the Study Series produced by Ghost Box (a label whose approach and aesthetic are always a bit of an influence here at Colossive). Other influences that sprung to mind were Czap Books’ Ley Lines and the unstoppable mini kuš! series of international A6 mini-comics, for a wide range of material within a tactile and hopefully collectible format.
I pinged out the idea to a few creative friends and acquaintances, and was blown away that they were all very keen to collaborate. Some of them are familiar names from the small press comics scene, but I’ve also been keen to look beyond that, aiming for an unpredictable mix that includes comics, photography, illustration, collage, word art and visual poetry. The ‘map’ concept might lend itself to explorations of place, journeys, etc, but it’s entirely the creator’s choice. Then I get them produced in colour on decent stock (and do the folding, sticking and – when necessary – setting alight myself). I was hoping that each individual issue wouldn’t be too much of an ask of the creator, but that the series as a whole would create a bigger synergy.
Series One (the first six issues) are now available – £2 each or £10 for the set. I was absolutely thrilled with the quality and variety of the work that came in. Here’s the cast list:
Stoic Soup by Olivia Sullivan
Fire Purges by Sean Azzopardi
Bobby Branstone’s Gloves by Jane Gibbens Murphy
Rest in Peace by Victoria Sellar
50.9165° N, 0.7235° E by David Bray
The Grapple by Lucy Sullivan
Series Two is currently percolating. I’ll announce creators and titles – and subscription details – when we’ve got one or two in the can, but I’m still absolutely thrilled at the people contributing. I’m even having a stab myself. And beyond that, I’m already drawing up my hit-list of talent to approach for future series. Huge thanks to everyone involved – the project obviously couldn’t have happened without you.
Friends of Colossive! Sorry we haven’t been very vocal on here of late, but if you keep an eye on our Twitter and Instagram, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what we’ve been up to.
Anyway, as the days are getting shorter, colder and – let’s be honest – considerably more miserable, we’ll be fighting the gloom by firing up the XR3i and taking the Colossive Experience on the road again to the following events:
Sunday 27th October: DIY Space for London Zine Fair(London SE15): We really enjoyed tabling at this fab venue back in the balmy days of summer, and we’re looking forward to heading back. DSFL is a brilliant venue that does fantastic work in giving everyone a voice. There’s always a fascinating collection of exhibitors, and we’re particularly looking forward to seeing how the print collective is shaping up.
Saturday 16th November: St Christopher’s Christmas Market (Kingsdale Foundation School, London SE21): This is obviously one that’s very close to our hearts, given our connection with St Christopher’s. A word to the wise: you can save yourself a quid by buying an entrance ticket in advance (£2).
Sunday 1st December: Made in Croydon (Boxpark, Croydon): Taking place in the shadow of the NLA Tower (‘No 1 Croydon’), this is a bit of a homecoming in our roles as custodians of the history of Croydon Spaceport. We’re really excited about this – as well as the usual Colossive goodies, we’re hoping to be launching a (small) range of new Croydon Spaceport merch!
Sunday 8th December: Catford Comic and Zine Fair (Blythe Hill Tavern, London SE6): Thanks to Henry and Stan Miller for inviting us back to the most convivial comic and zine fair in the calendar, held in one of London’s friendliest and most acclaimed boozers. It’s a little show that punches way above its weight in terms of the talent it crams in, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to come and blow the froth with some exceptionally pleasant and talented people (and us).
If you ever attended one of the now legendary Monthly Eruption events at the Colossive Gallery, you’ll remember some amazing musical talent that didn’t so much push the envelope as tie a 16th-century rocket to its back and launch it against a nearby fortified town.
So, with Colossive having taken the printed page in bold new directions, it seemed like the next logical step for us to knock the world of music off its axis and roll it down the stairs. No industry is safe from our urge for disruption!
Our 2019 catalogue brings you the first wave of releases (with drop dates to be firmed up). Along with some old Eruption faves such as The Exiled Tarquins and Alabaster Chambers, we’re pleased to introduce new acts such as Horwich Loco Works Open Day, Orthopraxy and Disastrous Twilight Sheds. Look below for a few choice highlights.
The catalogue is a snip at £2, which will be refundable against a future purchase of Colossive music*.
LEND YOUR EARS TO THE COLOSSIVE SONIC REVOLUTION!
* Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.
We had a splendid time at Northwest Zinefest last week – especially considering some of us had slightly lost the run of ourselves at a friend’s landmark birthday party the previous night…
Anyway, moving swiftly on… Admittedly we’ve only done four zine fairs so far, but this was by far the busiest and the salesiest. It probably helped that it was in a destination venue anyway (the very stirring People’s History Museum), and the biblical rainfall may have driven more people inside. However, it was really nicely organised and <grimace> curated, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
One of the nicest things that happened was a visit from Elena and Nicola of the Wellcome Collection, who bought copies of Emergency and 3:52 AMfor their burgeoning zine collection. Here’s an article about some of the zines in their collection. If you’ve got anything you’d like to suggest or donate to them, I’m sure they’d be very pleased to hear from you: email address on the flyer.
We also had a lovely conversation about Emergency with a man with autism and dyspraxia, who clearly related to it a great deal and said he was going to send a copy to his mum and dad, to show how much he appreciates the degree to which they supported him and fought for him during his childhood.
Huge thanks again to Iestyn and VJ Sellar for letting us publish such powerful and personal work, and thanks to Wellcome for picking it up.
However, in this brief essay (which will come with Perdu as a supplement), Colossive’s “Tom Murphy” looks back at the unlikely-sounding genesis of the project.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A couple of weeks after moving from Chorley to London in 1986, I saw Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville at the Barbican. Which was exciting enough for a wide-eyed nipper with a Billy the Fish football perm who’d just hopped off the National Express 570 Rapide.
However, the main feature was preceded by a cryptic yet compelling 16mm short called Mitte, by a compatriot of Godard’s named Jean-Paul Marsaud. Later, with a more functional critical vocabulary at my fingertips, I’d be able to wax lyrical about Mitte. However, at the time its mesmerising sequences depicting a glide through an unidentified city became a formative experience that I struggled to put into words and which had a profound effect on how I perceived my new metropolitan environment.
A bit of (pre-internet) research revealed that while Marsaud had taken pains to remain generally under the radar, he had made two more similar films – Proxima and Espacio – that also seemed to beguile as much as they baffled. A huddle of cognoscenti would gather at festival screenings and private cinema clubs to pore over these films, in which the strata of urban reality unfolded like a thousand-petalled lotus bloom.
Then, in 1992, le cataclysme. At a time of great personal distress, Marsaud destroyed the negatives and prints of his three films and withdrew from public life. Despite persistent rumours, it seemed that the films didn’t even live on as an n‑th generation VHS.
And that might have been the end of the story, had it not been for a chance encounter at London’s Institut français at which I became an unlikely instrument of destiny.
Attending a bande desinée (comics) event and making awkward smalltalk with a couple of acquaintances, I became aware of a similarly uncomfortable looking man on the periphery of the group. Later, in the pub, one of my rosbif companions revealed that the man, known only as Jean-Paul, was nicknamed le fantôme (the ghost) around London’s French community, and that he had apparently been a great artist who had suffered a breakdown and destroyed his life’s work.
With my mind making connections and my curiosity piqued, I returned to the Institut français and pestered the librarian, who reluctantly confirmed Jean-Paul’s identity and agreed to pass my details to ‘the ghost’. Weeks passed, and, as I’d expected, no contact was forthcoming. Unable to let go, I made increasingly regular visits to the French enclave of South Kensington, wondering if I’d ever track down my elusive quarry – or even if, true to his nickname, he was a phantom who had once more dissolved into incorporeality.
I had all but given up hope when fate again intervened. Having dived into an unpromising chain pub for an early-afternoon loosener, I heard a familiar voice order a crème de cassis from the other side of the frosted-glass snob screen.
Using my stool as a prop to lever myself upwards, I peered over the screen to see none other than the auteur manqué Marsaud, peering intently into the maroon depths of his drink as if seeking the likeness of a long-dead lover.
As I introduced myself, my bumbling – and uncharacteristic – enthusiasm seemed to drive him further into his retreat. However, a crack appeared in the curtain when he waspishly corrected me over my apparent misinterpretation of one of his films. With the regular replenishment of his glass, he began to defrost (albeit never showing the slightest bit of interest in my own life or work).
I probed him gently on the destruction of his films, and in a startling moment he revealed that he’d kept an archive of sketches and photographs from the production of his films. With a certitude that I generally lack in my quotidian routine, I resolved not to let le fantôme dematerialise until he had agreed to the Colossive Gallery staging an exhibition of these priceless artefacts. As the sun crept lower and the bar bill did very much the opposite, a deal of sorts was reached.
Many terse episodes of psychodrama were still to be played out over that summer and autumn, but on October 15th the Colossive Gallery opened ‘All That Remains – The Lost Films of JP Marsaud’. But you know that already, don’t you? You were probably there.
Anyway, the show went – as they say – like gangbusters (despite JP failing to grace us with his presence even once). When the fortnight was up I met JP as arranged – back at the Institut français – to return his material. I’d anticipated that he’d be late, but when he slouched in, in his usual laboured gait, I was intrigued to see another package under his arm. Without a greeting he dropped a foxed envelope, emblazoned with coffee rings, on the table in front of me. With the most minimal of gestures, he indicated that I should look within.
What I found was a disordered series of black-and-white photographs of various claustrophobic, even sepulchural locations. He wouldn’t be drawn on their origin or purpose, but wanted my opinion as to whether any money could be made from them. Over a coffee (and a seemingly obligatory Cognac) we reached what could loosely be termed an agreement to publish them as a zine. He didn’t bother to hide his disappointment – his disdain, even – when I revealed the scale of production and promotion that Colossive would be able to provide. However, pouring another Cognac on the troubled waters seemed to do the job.
However, my request for a title for the work seemed to test his forbearance to destruction. Downing his drink (after a reflexive swill round the glass), he rose with a previously unsuggested nimbleness and rolled back out into the London rain.
A couple of mornings later, a seemingly hand-delivered postcard was waiting in the gallery letter box, bearing nothing but the words Perdu sur le vaisseau spatial. Lost on the spaceship. So that’s what it is.
Thanks to anyone who popped by the Colossive table at the DIY Space for London Zine Fair yesterday.
The venue’s location – doughnutted by evangelical churches on a backstreet industrial estate – pretty much precluded any ‘passing trade’.
However, there was a good atmosphere inside the venue and a couple of flurries of activity during the course of the day. We chatted with some very nice people (on both sides of the table) and sold a few bits and pieces. You can check out the list of exhibitors, with links, here.
Thanks to Peter (Books Peckham) and Gabriel (1831 Shop) for arranging the fair, and to all the volunteers at DSFL – an valuable hub for creative activity.
I’ll be writing a much lengthier blog on the highly unusual story of how this zine came to be, but in the meantime…
We’re delighted to announce that, just in time for the DIY Space for London Zine Fest on Sunday July 7th, we’ve received our copies of Perdu sur le vaisseau spatial(Lost on thespaceship) – a photozine by an old friend of Colossive, JP Marsaud.
It’ll be up in our shop once we’ve got the weekend out of the way. In the meantime, here’s a sneaky-peek!
We nipped home and grabbed a few copies, and after a few sales and some very kind donations, we had enough for our next contribution to St Christopher’s. Amazingly, that’s taken our total so far past £1,500. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped.
Hot on the heels of that, the good folks at St Christopher’s wrote a lovely feature about Gordon, Jane and our two books that are raising funds for the hospice. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/stcgraffitibook
We’ve said it before, but we’re amazed and proud that Gordon’s story and photos have touched as many people as they have. We couldn’t be more pleased that his legacy is living on and having such a positive impact.