Every issue of these cardstock-covered beauties is a treasure-trove of discovery both for the reader and their creator.
Unlike so many online autobiographical comics which I find vacuous, repetitive, egomaniacal and twee, Katriona Chapman's personal interests and observations have me enthralled.
She is emphatically not producing these four issues annually to obsess about herself, but to pass on her knowledge of the customs of the countries she's visited, the Highlands and islands she has explored and the mountains she's climbed.
Each of the eight peaks, volcanoes or ranges here is rendered in soft shading and sinuously craggy detail, distinctly, individualistically and from different eye levels. There's no skimping on detail, visual, historical or geological:
"The Torridon mountains rise steeply to 1,100m from deep sea lochs. They're made of Torridonian red sandstone sitting on top of the Lewisian gneiss, some of the oldest rock in the world. The mountain tops are capped with quartzite."
"Volcán Chicabal - A volcano covered with cloud forest vegetation with a crater lake at the summit. Department of Qetzaltenango, Guatemala. Sacred to the Mam Mayan people and still used as a ceremonial site. 2,712m."
Her fascination is infectious, her enthusiasm enthralling, and her experiences always worth sharing.
For example, her trip to Skye and 'Dutch Campsite Memories' in which she travels to Amsterdam with her then-boyfriend after being kicked out of a rented room in Wandsworth back in 2002. Although they both find gainful employment, housing was in short supply even for Dutch nationals so they spend the last of their savings on a tent, two sleeping bags and camping gas stove. It's March and far from warm - plus they have to move sites every fortnight as per regulations - but Chapman's resourcefulness always impresses and she has campsite shower strategies to pass on. In any case I've always believed that the experience of deprivation is important in order to appreciate the basics when the home comforts are back - like heating, hot water and the privacy of a room; I just hadn't thought of the silence.
'Quicksand' is an eloquent and unexpected departure in style and shift in P.O.V. and, with its relatively simple line unadorned by Chapman's love of soft, moulded shading it looks just as spectral as the words are haunting.
Returning to travel, however, 'Virgen de Guadalupe' about Mexicans' pride of place for the Virgin Mary is yet another reminder of the versatility of Chapman's layouts and the clarity of her pencilled lettering which is always fully integrated into the page but also meticulously spaced, improbably neat and an almost impossibly well balanced part of the compositions themselves. In addition I was thrilled when I noticed the classy, subtle, shadow-shading floating below the title itself.
KATZINE ISSUE ONE and KATZINE ISSUE TWO both in stock and reviewed in detail. Also out now, on our shelves and up online to buy: KATZINE ISSUE FOUR