Friday, April 22nd, 2011 | No Comments

Root Rot

One look at Michael DeForge’s deeply weird and beautiful cover art, depicting the romantic entanglements of a forest dwelling ghost and a Sasquatch, will tell you that Root Rot is no typical forest-themed art book.

Drop Cap letter B

Bringing together the talents of 16 artists, each given 2 pages to run amok with the title theme, Root Rot is a strange excursion into our collective imagination of what goes on in the woodland’s strangest corners.

With consistently amazing art from cover to cover, what is most interesting about Root Rot is seeing how each of the artists took the theme in their own direction. While Jon Vermilyea’s iridescent trip-out is instant eye-candy, Robin Nishio’s blood-thirsty squirrel still haunts our dreams days after the last reading. Joseph Lambert, Angie Wang, and Jesse Jacob’s short comics effectively allude to larger stories, while Inés Estrada’s vision of the forest is a singular sprawling dream-scape.

Root Rot, the latest offering from the maverick Toronto-based Koyama Press, was co-edited by artist Michael DeForge and Annie Koyama. We caught up with Annie to talk to her about all things Root Rot ahead of its launch at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May.

@holharris & @jaredschorr each won a copy of Root Rot by tweeting this review.

Annie Koyama Interview

The title “Root Rot” has a rather seedy undertone for a forest themed art book. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired the title and theme?

Annie Koyama: I like anthologies and wanted to work with Michael DeForge on something other than his ‘LOSE’ series of comics.

We wanted a theme that was quite broad to give the artists the most freedom to create but also something that in Michael’s words would have a unifying aesthetic.

I may also have had beautiful forests on the brain after working with Tin Can Forest on their ‘Baba Yaga and the Wolf’ book. Michael came up with ‘Root Rot’ as a working title but it sort of grew on us (sorry) and we decided to keep it.

Jesse Jacobs

Jesse Jacobs

Root Rot features an incredibly eclectic group of artists. How did you go about choosing them? What qualities were you looking for in the work?

Annie Koyama: We both made lists of who we’d like to invite. Not surprisingly, there was some overlap. I’d personally hoped for some comics and some non comic spreads but did not put any restrictions on anyone. We chose a variety of cartoonists, animators, printmakers and illustrators.

We narrowed down our lists by trying to go with artists in Canada and the U.S. but we love Inés Estrada (Mexico City) and wanted to include her. That group of artists gave us some very different styles.

Angie Wang

Angie Wang


How was your experience collaborating with co-editor Michael DeForge and designer Diana McNally?

Annie Koyama: Michael and I are used to working together but adding Diana to the mix was great. She came up with the type treatment which suits the book well and the three of us laid out the book together.

What’s next for Koyama Press? Anything that we can look forward to in the future?

Annie Koyama: Maurice Vellekoop’s comic will come out later this year and Michael continues to go forward with his ‘LOSE’ series. I’ve embarked on a year long zine project with artists Niall McClelland and Jeremy Jansen, a photography book with local artist Jeremy Kai and am co-publishing a book by Jesse Harris with Simon Cole of Show & Tell Gallery in Toronto in conjunction with Jesse’s show at the gallery in June. And more to come…

Joseph Lambert

Joseph Lambert

Jon Vermilyea

Jon Vermilyea

T Edward BakRobin NishioJason FischerJesse JacobsMickey ZacchilliBob FlynnLizz HickeyDan ZettwochChris EliopoulosJoseph LambertJon VermilyeaDerek M.BallardAngie WangGreg PizzoliHellen JoInnés Estrdada

Koyama Press books debuting at this years Toronto Comic Arts Festival:

Colour Me Busy

Colour Me Busy,
by Keith Jones

Rackham Loses It

Rackham Loses It,
by Steve Wolfhard

Lose 3

Lose 3,
by Michael DeForge

Monster Party

Monster Party,
by Chris ‘Elio’ Eliopoulos

S&TM: Huge thanks to Annie Koyama for her time and all her help with this interview!

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