We were incredibly honoured – albeit utterly terrified – when the wonderful Wallis Eates invited us to talk all things Colossive at January’s LDComics online meet-up.
We’d never done anything like this before, but we somehow managed to wax lyrical about some of our favourite topics – including comics, street art and loss – using a decades-old comic story by Tom (below) to kick things off.
Our ‘set’ also saw the unveiling of the Colossive Manifesto, which we’ve now had printed on to postcards. We’re sending them out with every order and will be leaving them in pubs and foisting them on unsuspecting punters at zine fairs. So you’ll all get a copy soon enough – whether you want one or not.
Ahem. Sorry for that brief interruption. It recently occurred to us that we hadn’t posted anything on here for the past 18 months. So we’d now like to start to rectify the situation. And as luck would have it, we’ve got some ready-made long reads for you, thanks to the amazing coverage we’ve been given by the tireless Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier.
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).
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.
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.
Tomorrow’s a big day – our second-ever zine fest, and the first that’s not a single bus ride from our house. If you’re anywhere near the Workstation in Sheffield tomorrow (Saturday 18th May), please come and see us!
We’re really pleased to be launching two new bits of work: 3:52AM, a perzine of words and photography by VJ Sellar about the experience of insomnia; and Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning), a collection of Gordon Gibbens’ photos of the stranger side of London life. Plus, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to pull this off, but there’ll be a special treat for fans of Tracey Pitcher…
* Obviously this egregious display of mutual back-scratching will do little to allay the suspicions of those who think we’re part of the Secret World Small Press Government.
When I was cobbling together the first bits and pieces for Colossive, I struck up contact online with an energetic Brighton-based zinester (writer, artist, photographer, editor, designer, reviewer, organiser) called Iestyn Pettigrew.
Before long he had sent me a passle* of his zines, one of which was an uncredited little A6 piece called Emergency. At first glance, what catches your eye is some very attractive, clean, almost abstract interior photography. However, as you read the powerful text, you realise that there’s much more to this zine than a collection of Insta-ready snapshots.
Anyway, here’s how Iestyn himself describes it:
A zine conversation about the difficulties faced by parents of special-needs children with hidden disabilities, Emergency deals with a father managing his own shame and guilt whilst shouldering society’s judgements. Mixing photography and short personal essays, it breaks open this hidden and seemingly mundane world to discuss the emotional impacts and their personal way of coping with the pressures of living under judgement every day.
Having read it, I felt like I’d had the wind driven out of me. And I had the strange and sudden notion that I’d love to publish an edition of it – the first thought I’d ever had that Colossive might expand to publish other people’s work apart from our own.
Iestyn is one of those generous, creative, collaborative, productive and proactive people who make zine culture – and DIY culture more generally – what it is. I’m proud that he let me print an edition of his zine, and I hope you’ll feel inspired to pick up a copy (either from here or at the Sheffield Zine Fest on Saturday 18th).
(Iestyn also edits the Zine Love blog, and is offering a £10 subscription deal for six zines over the course of a year. Contact details are in his Instagram bio.)
I took the photographs and produced the text for 3:52 AM as a way of passing time in the early hours of the morning, during a recent bout of insomnia. Although I’ve never been a brilliant sleeper, it’s got worse in the last couple of years – a side-effect of the medication I was prescribed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. Any time between 3:30 and 4am is the worst time to wake up – too soon to have had a decent night’s sleep, too late for that still to be a prospect.
When I’m awake in the early hours of the morning, I generally pick up a camera (mind you, I generally pick up a camera when I’m awake, whatever time it is). Being awake in these dead hours is not always a torment. Sometimes I get the impression that the normal boundaries I exist within have disappeared. None of the pressures of being awake in the daytime (work, money, life…) seem to exist. It can be very liberating and allows me to find new opportunities for expression.
Of course, photography is not a recommended cure for insomnia. You’re supposed to distract yourself with something mindless and soothing – activities which don’t stimulate the mind – until you start to feel sleepy enough to go back to bed. Photography, on the other hand, provokes all sorts of questions, and by the time you get to the end of a shoot you might as well have had several cups of coffee for all it’s going to help you sleep. But it does take your mind off time passing.
All the profits from the sale of this zine are going to the Maggie’s Wallace Centre at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Maggie’s Wallace is a brilliant organisation, which provides practical, emotional and social support for people affected by cancer, in a friendly and non-clinical setting. I visited them a couple of times a week for two or three months when I was recovering from treatment. Raising money from the sale of this zine is a very small way of paying back the help and support I got there.