At the 2023 Chicago Zine Fest, I met Maamoul Press, “a multi-disciplinary small press and collective for the creation, curation and dissemination of art at the intersection of comics, printmaking, and book arts.” The submission criteria includes “by-us-for-us” storytelling which need not be strictly autobiographical, but should be “rooted in some way in the writer or artist’s lived experience,” for “works by BIPOC women, trans, and non-binary artists.” I selected several publications from the Maamoul Press table, as I was interested in how each is unique in content and style.
Loneliness by Reimena Yee is a ten-page zine coursing through the author’s relationship with loneliness, from youth to adulthood. Not always ‘getting along’ with being alone, but finding the joy and beauty in it, nonetheless. Yee reveals how she copes with and even welcomes loneliness into her life. An uplifting and empowering perspective for all of us solitary dwellers out there. The images are mainly black and grayscale, a few brown/sepia tones, on ivory paper. (10pp, 2020)
The Insubordinate by Rawand Issa is a bilingual (Arabic/English) full-color graphic novel ‘do-si-do’ style, showing more of the publisher’s book arts skills. Its story is based on real events that took place in Beirut between October 8, 2015, and March 20, 2017, following a young woman’s demonstration participation and arrest. Her case was turned over to the Military Court and her lawyer fights to have the case thrown out since it is a civilian and not a military matter. Issa’s use of multiple thick lines and hard edges creating geometric shapes adds intensity to the story as it ramps up and unfolds. A disturbing narrative experience in a stylishly beautiful presentation.
I selected The Layover by Soumya Dhulekar for its two-color risograph print and its all-too-familiar mundane storyline of layover waiting in an airport, banal exchanges between strangers, and the connections we make in surreal yet familiar ways. The graphic style is a perfect vehicle of expression for this story experience. (12pp, 2019)
Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is Editor of NewPages.com and reviews books she chooses based on her own personal interests.