Imagine the most colorful, charming, and beautifully drawn game of Pass It On that you’ve ever seen. Then imagine the most enviable, talented clubhouse of illustrators and self-publishing wiz kids sitting together in a Berlin risograph print studio—one that’s adorned with lively scraps of color and doodled all over with geometric madness—who continuously play their own version of the game to their heart’s desire: one draws an image, the second continues the narrative, together producing lively, dynamic shapes, patterns, and stories.
This is no fantasy or daydream. In fact, it’s a very real monthly event called Clubhouse that comic artists and publishers Aisha Franz and Johanna Maierski have hosted at their publishing print studio Colorama since 2016. The intense, week-long workshop invites 15 artists to collaborate together on an illustrative call-and-response, resulting in the production of a limited edition zine called Clubhouse Colorama. Edition number six is now available to purchase, and it’s a dashing array of Eye on Design favorites, with contributions from Patrick Kyle, Anna Haifisch, Liam Cobb, Jack Sachs, and more.
The rules of the workshop are simple: one illustrator draws and prints a riso-poster, then hands it off to another illustrator, who designs a corresponding narrative comic in response. At the end of the week, Colorama prints 250 copies of a special book that collects all 30 pieces together, pairing poster and comic side-by-side. As the latest Clubhouse Colorama aptly shows, the project is an experiment in collaborative thinking, graphic dynamism—and a probe into the ways pattern and abstraction can twist and evolve into narrative.
It also joins Printed Matter’s recent comic exhibition ‘Something Unusual is Happening,’ and the French comic journal Gouffre, released in January of this year, in furthering a discussion around plasticity of form and the possibilities of anti-narrative in contemporary comic production. As with many of the works in the exhibition and journal, Colorama Clubhouse straddle the line between storytelling and pure, abstracted pattern.
Today, Franz and Maierski take us through three of the final pairings from their workshop, which feature in the new book. First, they show us a poster, then the accompanying comic—telling us not only a little bit about the artists involved, but also why they created the varied responses that they did.