Cartozia Tales #1

Cartozia is a wonderful concept. It’s a fantasy place, with two main parallel islands and several hangers-on. There’s a map, and that allows a variety of comic creators to explore the world through a variety of stories, which assemble into this ongoing shared-world anthology dedicated to fantasy for all ages.

Cartozia Tales #1 cover

It’s edited by Isaac Cates, and regular contributors (in addition to him) are Mike Wenthe, Jen Vaughn, Lucy Bellwood, Shawn Cheng, Sarah Becan, Tom Motley, and Lupi McGinty. (Becan and Vaughn are favorites of mine, but the others are new to me.) Their goal is to make “more comics that celebrate adventure, curiosity, fun and exploration”, a lovely aim. Each issue has two guest artists. In #1, it’s Dylan Horrocks and Jon Lewis; the second issue will feature James Kochalka and Adam Koford.

Issue #1 was sent out early to subscribers and reviewers. Based on its contents, Cartozia Tales will be great reading for the young (and young and heart) who enjoy imagining what more might exist. The stories are just enough to get the reader speculating on who these characters are and what they’ll do next. They’re setting up people and premises and locations and concepts for others to explore or acknowledge. (On the other hand, if you want solid, stand-alone tales, stay far away. You’ll find the lack of closure frustrating.) A text page at the back explains a bit more about the tribes and types. Also, if you’re reading with a young person, there are lots of opportunities to discuss if they’d make the same choices in the same situations.

My favorite parts of issue #1 are Sarah Becan introducing us to Shreya, the apprentice mapmaker, who provides a lesson in how to do cartography; Dylan Horrocks’ piece with Taco meeting Wick, the Wind-Up Man, which is very Oz-like; and Sylvia the shape-changing vagabond, who’s drawn by Jen Vaughn.

There’s more information at the series website, including sample stories and background information on the contributors. The Kickstarter project lets you buy a subscription to all ten issues, in either print or digital form, as well as a number of other bonuses. And as of this weekend, if you give them any money at all, you’ll get the chance to read a PDF of #1, so you can see what you’re being asked to sign up for.

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