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...
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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.
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