The Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Ecotone literary magazine includes four graphic literature pieces that drew me into the publication. Focusing on “Reminaging Place,” Ecotone’s mission is “to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today.” This includes graphic literature curated by invitation, with this issue offering four distinct works. The first is actually a tribute piece by Editor David Gessner for the feature Out of Place. “The Dead Writers’ Society: One Day I Hope to Join” is humorous, heartfelt, and historically informative using hand-drawn images and text as well as photos and photocopied ephemera. It is available to read on the Ecotone website. The three content pieces are offered in a full-color portfolio with an intro by each artist.
“Network of Want” by Angie Kang is hands-down my favorite piece, mainly because it explores desire paths – those pathways made by people and animals following their desired route. Kang uses a limited palate of blue-greens to violet for each scene with the pathway rendered in hot pink. She examines the myriad mindsets and biologies driving these pathways, to take shortcuts, to avoid, to be nearer, and to survive. Her work is a desire path in itself, as I find myself returning to it again and again to meditate on the shared meanings a simple worn path can offer. The intro to this work is available to read on the Ecotone website, but the work can only be viewed with a subscription.
“Whale Fall: Sequences 1, 2, 3” by Mita Mahato sources the term “whale fall” to create a series of images that reflect a system of metamorphizing by combining grids, letterforms, and colors. Whale fall, Mahato writes, “is “the ecosystem that emerges when a whale carcass falls to the ocean floor” and describes how “enmeshed” this phenomenon is with both marine and terrestrial systems of existence. My appreciation for Mahato’s work increased exponentially after seeing her process, which she shares in several videos and images on her Instagram page @mita_mahato. There is an intense amount of cutting out the grid and letters with an Exacto knife that cannot be fully captured in the print images, and that factors into the interpretation as well. Mahato’s intro and work are available to read on the Ecotone website.
“Becoming Water” by S. J. Ghaus is a hauntingly dreamy sequence exploring their sense of identity through self-naming. Ghaus opens the intro, “Four years ago, I picked up a blue colored pencil on New Year’s Eve and began to draw. I’ve been drawing and writing in that specific shade of blue ever since, and I don’t know when I’ll stop.” Coincidentally, this piece is about water, being in water, and identifying as water. Its compelling strength is that singular color and the depth and complexity Ghaus can create with this self-imposed limitation. This work is also available to read on the Ecotone website.
Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is Editor of NewPages.com and reviews material based on her own personal interests.