Sally Ingraham here with two recent reads – Kate Gavino’s ‘Sanpaku’ and Maggie Umber’s ‘270º’!


A summer interview in Paste Magazine with Kate Gavino put her new comic – Sanpako – on my radar. When it turned up at Copacetic Comics I read it eagerly. As I had suspected, the intricate backgrounds of each page (inspired by origami paper) were a compelling detail which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The patterned backgrounds made me think of quilt squares, and as such they really serve to tie the book together. I don’t always like comics where each page is a single panel. I find that they often have a feeling of “and then”…”and then”…”and then”…which lacks a certain rhythm. In Kate Gavino’s Sanpaku the patterns become the rhythm which carries the story along – and as I said, in my mind’s eye I can see the whole “quilt” of the story spreading out and holding space.

The story itself follows Marcine, a young Filipino girl growing up in the States around her Catholic immigrent family and their friends. It is inspired by Kate Gavino’s own similar childhood in Houston, TX, but there isn’t a strong sense of place in the comic. The characters float amid the patterns. Marcine is dealing with strong emotions, floating in her own head as she learns to question the things that she’s been taught, and begins to form her own opinions.

Pop culture and sainthood, macrobiotic diets and shoplifting all have their mysterious parts to play as Marcine navigates a school year, the death of her Lola, and the ever-present curse of Sanpaku. Get a copy of the comic HERE!


Maggie Umber‘s new book – 270º – is a terrific example of the melding potential of comics and field guides. Being a birder myself, I have always appreciated Maggie’s bent toward ornithology (as seen in her 2017 offering, Sound of Snow Falling, which was also about owls).

270º (a reference to the turning ratio of an owls’ head) is a perfect combination of field notes on North American owls, and mixed-media artwork. The two come together to make an engrossing read.

Offering just a taste of each subject, the book is a pleasing overview of owl behavior, characteristics, and interesting facts. The pairing of detailed artwork with quickly sketched ink drawings is especially nice, bringing just enough sequencing into the mix to keep the book lively.

Maggie doesn’t need to wax poetic in this book to convey her deep love for the natural world. She is steeped in the wild, and it shows in each piece, whether it is a painting, print, etching, or collage.

Instructional and beautiful, 270º is my favorite book from Maggie Umber so far. Get a copy of it HERE.


Cement Mixer – 10-19-2018 – by Caleb Orecchio

 10-19-2018 – by Niall Breen

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