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Comics und Buchrollen

Was ist ein Comic? Wo fängt das Medium an und wo hört es auf? Die einen erkennen bereits in steinzeitlichen Höhlenmalereien die ersten Belege der Comickunst, für andere ist Wilhelm Busch der Gründervater des Comics – und dazwischen liegt eine riesige Spanne mit unzähligen Möglichkeiten. Doch all diese Fragen brauchen uns an dieser Stelle nicht weiter zu beschäftigen, denn was sich mit einiger Sicherheit festhalten lässt, ist, dass der moderne Comic, wie wir ihn heute kennen, seinen Ursprung in amerikanischen Tageszeitungen hatte.

Da Comics in den Tageszeitungen anfangs immer eine unterhaltende und vor allem komödiantische Komponente besaßen, gerieten sie schnell in die Ecke für „Schund” und „Kinderkram“. Natürlich sind sie viel mehr als das – trotzdem blieb dem Medium in Deutschland die Anerkennung, gerade im Vergleich zu Frankreich, Japan und den USA, verwehrt. Es gibt Comics, die sich mit wichtigen kulturellen und gesellschaftlichen Fragestellungen auseinandersetzen, den Lesern etwas beibringen, neue Perspektiven aufzeigen, Wissen und Werte vermitteln, Fragen aufwerfen oder auch einfach nur gute Freunde gegen die Langeweile werden. Egal ob heldenhaft, abenteuerlich, lustig, politisch, lehrreich, emotional, gruselig, dokumentarisch oder philosophisch; jedes Thema hat seine Daseinsberechtigung und erst diese Vielfalt verleiht dem Medium seine Tiefe.

Obwohl sich der Comic bereits Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts als eigenständige Medienform etabliert hatte, gelang es ihm nicht vollends, das Label der Schundliteratur abzustreifen. Unterstützung im Streben nach Anerkennung erhielt der Comic unerwartet aus einer ganz anderen Richtung: dem Film. Denn das Aufkommen der zahlreichen Comicverfilmungen lieferte dem Medium eine neue Aufmerksamkeit. Ein entscheidendes Puzzleteil dieses Umdenkens war sicherlich Christopher Nolans „The Dark Knight“ (2008), der auf der Liste der weltweit erfolgreichsten Filme aller Zeiten Platz 26 belegt (Stand: 22. September ’16).

Dass auch technische Entwicklungen die Genese des Comics beeinflussten, thematisierte Scott McCloud, selber Comic-Künstler und -Theoretiker, um die Jahrtausendwende mit seinem Werk „Comics neu erfinden“. In der zunehmenden Verbreitung des Heimcomputers und mit dem Aufkommen des Internets sah er das Potenzial neuer Gestaltungsfreiheit und etablierte den Begriff der „unendlichen Leinwand“; womit es ihm vor allem um digitale Comics ging. Durch den Heimcomputer war damals eine neue Art des Lesens angebrochen, die heute selbstverständlich ist, denn die Nutzer der Websites mussten nun „scrollen“, um sie zu lesen. Und wenn es möglich war, Websites auf diese Art zu gestalten, wieso dann nicht auch Comics? Ein Gedanke, der Scott McCloud zur „unendlichen Leinwand“ inspirierte. Die Vielfalt des Comics setzte sich also nicht mehr nur inhaltlich fort, sondern fand auch in der Auseinandersetzung mit den Grenzen des Formats statt.

Ein Künstler, der das Format der „unendlichen Leinwand“ besonders beherzigt hat, ist Daniel Lieske. Mit seiner digitalen Graphic Novel „Wormworld Saga“ (die er kostenlos zugänglich gemacht hat) setzte er praktisch dort an, wo Scott McClouds Theorie hindeutete – ein Comic, der das gängige Format aufbricht und durch seine unendlich anmutende Gestaltung im Lesefluss nicht unterbrochen wird.

Für den Comic ist also die Stunde der Freiheit angebrochen. Das Medium entwächst nicht nur dem ohnehin schon immer falsch gesetzten Label „Kinderkram“, es drängt förmlich in die Richtung der neuen Ideen und Ansprüche, der Freiheit im Denken, der neuen Plots und unverbrauchten Formate. Das gefällt uns natürlich. Und was bietet sich da mehr an, als die neuen digitalen Freiheiten auch physisch umzusetzen? Also arbeiten wir schon seit einiger Zeit an unserem ersten Comic, natürlich nicht alleine, sondern in Persona von Paul Rietzl. Im Herbst erscheint dann sein Werk „Shipwreck“ bei Round not Square als erster Comic auf Buchrolle; mehr dazu gibt es bald. Eine gewisse Aufregung lässt sich an dieser Stelle nicht leugnen und wir geben zu, dass wir mit unseren Buchrollen vielleicht noch ein Stück weit von unendlich entfernt sind – aber mindestens genauso fern sind wir dem gewöhnlichen DIN A4-Format.

Unter den folgenden Links könnt ihr Paul Rietzl folgen und euch jetzt schon Eindrücke zu seinen Arbeiten verschaffen:
Pauls Website | Paul bei Facebook | bei Twitter | bei Tumblr | und Behance

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Summer in the City

Summer is here! The sun is shining and the sky is blue, it’s getting warmer and warmer, bees are humming – you get the picture – and everybody who is still inside starts contemplating how to change that and leave the house for a bit of summer in the city.

This is what we want to do as well.

Why we do fairs, one might ask, as we are talking constantly about our new shop (and seen from that perspective I don’t know why I would ever leave my beautiful desk). But these fairs – focused on books, art or design – have considerable advantages, of course. We can get our books some fresh air, meet lots of interested people and enjoy the special atmosphere. The crowd is open, at least, if not in search of the unusual, the unseen and unheard of. Especially the small, relatively new markets are so much more casual, urban and fresh than many of the well-established huge events. And in summer it is just great fun to be around and a part of all this. Between food stalls, music and ice cream you can find innovative ideas, lots of inspiration, unique things … and our scrolls!

After having had a marvelous time at the supernice and not less successful UlmUnusual design fair in Germany’s South in March, our next stop is the most local of all design markets (at least for us): Weddingmarkt at Nordufer in our beloved neighborhood: Berlin’s one and only Wedding. On June, 5th and July, 3rd we will contribute to Wedding’s local culture at Nordufer by selling our precious books to fellow Weddingers, berliners and interested others.

And what else is coming up?

We are preparing for the „I never Read“ in Basel at the moment, which is taking place the 15th to 18th of June. And then, the 18th of June is the summer street party on Wörther Straße in Prenzlauer Berg’s Kollwitzkiez. We will be selling our scrolls at one of Berlin’s nicest book shops that day, all day long: the Georg Büchner Kunstbuchladen.

So, maybe, we’ll meet you there with a glass of white wine in our hands, strawberries in our mouths or just summer in our hearts.

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The book is dead: long live the book!

Recently, someone told me that “there’s a reason why books have pages and scrolls are not longer used”. Although I was a bit vexed at first, I must admit that this person – a book binder for the record – had a point.

Historically, the book, bound of single pages, was a great evolution. It transformed the way information was stored and for the purpose of having huge amounts of texts assembled in a way which makes looking up single parts easy it definitely was better suited than the scroll (most text scrolls where made of single sheets of paper pasted one to another and rather difficult to handle – although, as is shown in this video, many people really had difficulties with their first book :)).

But then, what happened? The e-book came around and the whole publishing industry trembled. And, truth be told, the e-book is even better suited than the normal book for making huge amounts of information easily available – hundreds of books stored on one device, the most efficient search algorithms and a whole lot of weird interconnectedness with everything: music, pictures, videos, dictionaries, you name it.

More than the death of the printed book, the e-book is the liberation of the book from the overwhelming compulsion of being something practical. If you want something to read texts easily, you can go and get yourself an e-reader and the printed book can finally take new shapes and tell stories in new ways, adapt to it’s content with less restrictions.

That is exactly what the book – and the publishers – have been up to in the last years and at least one reason why e-book sales are slowly flattening out (as recently published in the New York Times).

And so, yes there is a reason why scrolls have been the privilege of archeologists, asian art aficionados and pre-film avant-garde thinkers but now the time has come for everyone to explore the literally endless space they offer us to tell stories in a whole new way.

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Larry Yust on Round not Square

It happened like this. I got an email out of the blue from some people who called themselves Round not Square. The name intrigued me and so did their proposal. They wanted to use some of my images to make a book in the form of a scroll. You know, with sticks to roll a long piece of paper from one side to another, rolling pages past your eyes instead of flipping them. Like an ancient Chinese scroll. It was completely out-of-the box and it caught my imagination.

So I emailed back asking for more details. We exchanged emails several times and the result was that I pulled a new book project of mine from an established publisher (who was taking too long to get the book into print, I thought) and gave it to Round not Square.

I’m glad I did. The result is everything I hoped it would be, still way out-of-the- box. Unique, beautiful, fun, crazy and the best way I have seen yet to present my long images in book form, albeit a book of a very different sort.

I love it.

Larry Yust, Los Angeles, 2015

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24h left for the Kickstarter Campaign!

Dear friends, dear backers, dear interested people of the world,

We have 24 hours to go for our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
These past weeks have been amazing and we feel happy and overwhelmed by all the support we’ve experienced and are still experiencing.

At the moment we have
– 177 backers from all over the globe
– €13,796 pledged of our €11,000 goal
– Which means we are 122% funded

That means we are fully funded, which is nothing less than fantastic. It also means that all the backing we receive now is additional – which is not to say we don’t need it. After buying the printing machines and producing your rewards, we are planning to set up shops, online and offline.

Every single bit of contribution is celebrated here! Every single pledge helps us to be a little bit more secure on our feet. Every new backer gives us the confidence that Round not Square is supposed to be.

So here we go: the next 24 hours are still for you to share, back, comment, like and love. Do not restrict yourselves, do not hesitate to plan your Christmas presents in July, do not hold back.

Let’s end this campaign how it started: with a big firework!

Sincerely yours,
Antonia & Ioan

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Scroll Production: Nerds & Vintage Wine

As our kickstarter is slowly coming to an end, time will come to focus on production – again. You remember how we wrote about starting the first prototype on our kitchen table. Well… we’ve come a long way: still printing a scroll is way different than printing a normal book and part of our process is just plain crazy. Here’s how it’s done.


First: We get our paper directly from the mill. Nobody else asks for similar dimensions and so we need to have it made and cut customized. They deliver huge rolls of paper weighting approx. 140 kg each – that’s roughly 7 km of paper on one roll!

Second: We unwind and rewind the paper to smaller rolls to feed the printer as it cannot handle the big 140kg rolls.

Third: Now we can start with the printing. The printing technology used is basically the same as is used by galleries and museums around the world for fine art printing and highest quality photography reproduction. We’ve tweaked the drivers to allow virtually endless printing – yes we could print 7km without a single interruption: challenge us if you want 😉 – but the process is still rather lengthy.

The printer works with incredibly dense resolutions. Our longest book – Street Colors, Catching the Eye is roughly 31m long – it takes roughly 5 hours to go through the printing process. Nothing must go wrong: the smallest glitch would be fatal to the whole book, so we spent quite some time testing and improving the process to make sure that this does not happen! That’s what it takes to offer you a book that is really printed in “gallery quality”.

Fourth: Once printed, the scrolls go to the book binder, who assembles the cover and binds each book manually.

Fifth: Finally, before being shipped, the books take a nice rest. Our scrolls are like vintage wines: they need to rest after being moved around a lot. Rolled and closed, the books are stored in a stable environment to strengthen the natural “curl” of the paper and improve your reading experience.


So, if you backed us on Kickstarter for any of our books: Now you know that your scroll will be manufactured during hours, even days with the greatest care and to the highest quality standards before it comes delivered to your door.

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10 days to go …

Our Crowdfunding Campaign on Kickstarter.com has been online for over three weeks now and we are very happy:

  • Since last week we are fully funded (still makes my heart jump and I just can’t get rid of this big smile)
  • 141 people supported us so far – some are well-known, most are strangers to us but even more appreciated. Believe us: every single backer is celebrated here
  • We’ve reached over 12.000 Euros by now, which means we are 109% funded and have already surpassed our initial goal

Now we have 10 days left. 10 days which mean an unique opportunity to us, to be in close contact with interested and interesting people all around the world, to get to know our community, to feel your support and of course to kickstart Round not Square even further.

That is why we want to ask you to keep on talking about us, sharing, liking, supporting. We have a new goal: if we reach 20.000 Euros by the time this campaign ends, we will be able to build our own online shop much faster than planned. Then every backer will get an exclusive discount on the first purchase on the online shop! Because we deeply appreciate your backing!

So keep the spirit up: 10 days left!! Support us on keeping things going!

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Capturing Movement

Life doesn’t stand still. How true! This is why we teamed up with EyeEm, the creative community for photography, and launched a new Photo Mission called Capturing Movement today.

Whilst much of photography is about capturing a posed, still scene, there’s an art to truly capturing the dynamism, speed and movement of real life. Life is full of activity and movement, and the mission is all about communicating that energy in a photograph

We will publish a selection of finalists with full credits – on scroll, printed, designed and handbound in Berlin. Three winners will be selected, whose pictures will be central to the publication. They will receive the first copies of the finished scroll as their reward when it is published.

Since today, this new book can already be pre-ordered through our Kickstarter campaign.

All finalists will be exhibited at Wettbureau in Berlin on June 20th, where one of the three winners will be selected through an “Audience award” by the attendees of the event.

The mission Capturing Movement is online on EyeEm from June 8th, deadline is June 15th, 2015.

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The shooting

Tomorrow (or rather in a few hours) starts our crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter.com. This campaign is the centerpiece of our last months, full of new insights, work and fun. Preparations are almost complete, the project page is going to be ready within the next hours, and the link, dear reader, you will receive it tomorrow via three different channels at least (if not, communications went wrong we learned).

The centerpiece of the campaign is the video. This little movie which is supposed to have everything: explanations and atmosphere, authenticity and entertainment. This little movie grew very big on us – we are no experts on conceptualizing videos, or on shooting movies. On the other hand we wanted something special, professionally done but still representing our small publishing house and our long-grown ideas. Then an angel came along and presented us to “Das gute Werk”. That is German for the good deed. And this is what they did: a good deed.

The best thing about it was the fun and the good humor. The shooting started with croissants and coffee and went on being much easier than we expected. And this is how it went on… The team was full of good ideas and relaxed enthusiasm. Open for all ideas, they never lost the oversight or inner structure. They managed to present our scrolls at their best.

After a lot of versions, discussions and editing down (thank you for your patience, guys!) we have now the finished piece in our hands and I must say, I am really proud. No spoilers now, I shouldn’t tell you too much about the content or the ending, just this: it is so much better than we could have hoped for.

A huge thank you is all there is left to say! And now we hope the campaign will be as much fun..

Want to see more productions by “Das gute Werk”? Scroll along here: www.dasgutewerk.de

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Fair, good, sustainable… or: what we want to be

Setting up your own company follows its own rules, an immanent logic. It is more about daily survival, fighting doubts and encouraging smiles, more about who pays the next Veggie-Kebab and if you can afford this beautiful property as an office. Most of the time being responsible and good is not the top priority of your list.

We want to do it anyhow. We want to build a new space for creativity, a company which is sustainable and fair and, nonetheless, we want to live of it and be successful in what we do (successful – not rule the global market as a sole power (even though – thinking of it now…)).

So here are some points in which we think we can include our honest idealism in our publishing house.

Fair and cooperative structures: Include the people you are working with!

For us, fair remuneration for our authors and artists means that they get paid for the work before publication as well as for each copy sold. A third pillar ensures that they are integrated into the company in a cooperative way, so will be part of Round not Square’s success as our development will be based on their work.

Sales structures: Count your customers in, they are cool!

The cost structure for normal books is roughly the following: 60% of the sales price goes into retail, 15% are used for production, 10 % are going to the author and 15% are left for editorial work and the editor. This system is barely holding up, everybody complains, all parties are trying to stay in business. Many authors and artists, especially in photography, pay to see their books published, while publishing companies focus on publishing successful books – as these are used to cross-finance the rest of the program.

We believe in a system where you should have more space for art, which in the end means trial and error or the freedom to fail.

We considered different ways to avoid this system, the center piece of our thoughts circling around avoiding classic retail channels and production chains. This again will only be possible with the help of our customers, buying directly from us and allowing us to build something together.

Manufacturing: Building sustainable, responsible and local production processes

Round not Square is designed as a publishing house with an integrated manufacturing process. Our production is set to be on demand. No scroll will be shredded, no book will be lost, no stacks of paper will be wasted. Every book is valuable to the beholder, even if it’s just a handful of people that buy and cherish it. For setting up the production chain and also for choosing our partners and suppliers we include sustainability as one of our main criteria to base our decisions upon.

Production in our format is a huge challenge. While our minds are set on holding as much of the process in our own hands, we are still depending on a few players on the technology side. For our sustainability balance, their will to “go green” and be responsible is therefore quite important. We will try our best, but in the end it comes to that: the more we sell books, the more we can go towards influencing them (off-setting is of course always possible and will be done).

We have made the experience that being fair and sustainable is often about these ideals being integrated in the company’s intrinsic set of values. We want to be different and we want to be good: we don’t want to destroy but to create. We are idealistic but let’s do this!!

 

Challenge us on it!