There’s a new publisher in town.
Well, sort of.
Nobrow Press, based in the UK, has been making illustrated books, graphic novels, comics and children’s books for three years now, but it’s been just this year that their books have been more readily available stateside, given their new exclusive distribution deal with Consortium.
Nobrow likes to create what they call “ethically produced visual editions that really deserve to be printed.” There’s more on that below, since Sam Arthur, Nobrow’s director, took some time to chat with me about their books.
Read the last Seven Impossible Things on Elisha Cooper's 'Homer.'
Arthur also discusses their current offerings below. I’ve seen some of these, which is the primary reason I wanted to shine the spotlight on Nobrow today. This is dynamic stuff—and, as noted below, books you want to smell.
The best of the lot for children is Luke Pearson’s follow-up to the comic Hildafolk, called Hilda and the Midnight Giant. It stars an irrepressible blue-haired protagonist, and it has already been compared to the likes of Regis Faller’s Polo books, the works of graphic novel author/illustrator Kazu Kibuishi and Japanese manga artist Hayao Miyazaki, and Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories.
Nobrow also produces a biannual magazine, which contains illustrations and comics, showcasing the talents of well-known illustrators, as well as new artists.
You and Alex Spiro co-founded Nobrow Press in 2008, yes? Tell me why. What unique things does Nobrow offer?
Alex Spiro and I founded Nobrow Press in October 2008 with the intention of giving a publishing platform for the graphic arts and illustration. Our intention was to publish books that deserved to be printed—and by that I mean they needed to exist as tactile objects that people [can] collect and cherish.
In this sense, all of our books are designed and considered from their first inception to be beautiful objects with excellent content. We use unusual printing methods to achieve our bright and vivid colors. The weight and texture of the paper we use is also carefully researched to give our books a certain almost-nostalgic feel. Our books even smell good!
On that note, is Nobrow still determined to do high-end, limited-edition print runs only, or do you think you will one day also release titles digitally?
Most of our books are, in fact, not limited editions at all. Some of our early releases were limited-numbered editions, and we occasionally do small runs of screen prints alongside our key releases. Our approach is to make books that everyone can enjoy. A mass-produced book can still be high-end, and it needn't be massively expensive either.
However, it is true that—in order to create well-designed books that are produced ethically using eco-friendly materials—there will always be a small price to pay. But we feel our customers realize our books are good value.
In terms of a future with digital publishing, at Nobrow Press, we never say never! Digital has always played an important role in our company, whether that be in production, sales or marketing—so we realize the potential of the medium.
Tell me about some of your newest releases here in the U.S. via Consortium.
The Leporello series is a new range we are very excited about. These books are in a concertina format and, when unfurled, they create a wonderful wall frieze. Rise & Fall by Micah Lidberg is a beautiful panorama of life, detailing the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. Swan Lake by Ping Zhu shows a magical night at the ballet, both front and backstage. High Times by Golden Cosmos is a colorful visual history of aviation with an educational timeline of key events included. These are fantastic gift books for all ages, and we have more titles in this series later in the year and to follow in 2013.
No Man's Land by BlexBolex is a graphic novel like no other. Having had huge success with People and Seasons, BlexBolex has created this book for a more grown-up audience. Anyone who loves his artwork will love this book.
Hilda & the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson has been one of our key releases in Europe, and it's had a great start in the US. Luke Pearson's inquisitive heroine Hilda is really one to look out for. Expect the next Hilda book, Hilda & the Bird Parade, to be released spring 2013.
The Wolf's Whistle by Bjorn Rune Lie is a wonderful take on the story of The Three Little Pigs. The illustrations are sublime and the story will have you rooting for the wolf in no time.
Will you only publish UK artists?
We publish artists from all over the world. Many of the artist's we publish happen to live in the UK, but we have a strong U.S. contingent in our latest issue, Nobrow 7: Brave New World.
So, in response to your question, we do not see nationality or geography as a boundary to creating good books.
All images used with permission of Nobrow Press.
Julie Danielson (Jules) has, in her own words, conducted approximately eleventy billion interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog focused primarily on illustration and picture books.