Seven Stories #1
Published by O Panda Gordo
With comics by Amanda Baeza, André da Loba, Ed Cheverton, Joana Estrela, João Sobral, Nathaniel Walpole, Paula Puiupo, and Teresa Ferreiro
16.5 x 24 cm
limited edition of 300 copies
SEVEN STORIES is a brand new biannual comics anthology edited by João Sobral and published by O Panda Gordo. Its purpose is to contribute to the dissemination of contemporary practices of comics by showcasing exciting new work by a diverse range of international artists. Each issue will have its own identity which may be informed by formal or aesthetic principles.
SEVEN STORIES 1 came out in June 2017 and features cover artwork by João Sobral and comics by André da Loba, Amanda Baeza, Paula Puiupo, Ed Cheverton, Joana Estrela, Nathaniel Walpole, and Teresa Ferreiro.
The editorial of this first issue exposes the concept behind the magazine and acts as an introduction to the whole project:
I made my first comics publication four years ago. Having never made or published comics before, I was ignorant but curious. I decided to put out an anthology based on this concept I would hear every now and then: there are only seven stories in the world. This always intrigued me.
After looking it up, I found that the writer Arthur Quiller-Couch had suggested that every possible story was based on one of seven conflicts: Man vs. Man; Man vs. Nature; Man vs. Himself; Man vs. God; Man vs. Society; Man caught in the middle; Man and Woman.
My feelings about this were mixed. On one hand, I found myself attracted to the list as it implied all stories are about the human experience, which I agree. At the same time, however, it reduced that experience to a few simplistic catchphrases, which is something I consider unrealistic.
I think the idea of limiting all the possibilities of a story to a closed list of basic plots is unfair and unproductive. A story should not be its one sentence synopsis. It's its nuances and our perception of them that make a story meaningful, significant, even life-changing.
This is particularly true when a story is told through comics. There is no right way to read a comic – the thread you follow to make its content meaningful is, unlike that of other mediums, more personal and open to interpretation.
Because there's no right way to read a comic, the process of doing so is never straightforward. There will always be things we overlook and things we're not supposed to see. Things that were put there and things that just happen to be there, waiting to be picked up and reshape the story that is being told.
Every time we delve into a new comic, we find ourselves lost in a maze we know nothing about and we have to, somehow, figure our way out of there. This multitude of possibility is what I find both intimidating and exciting about comics and is why I fell in love. I was curious four years ago, now I'm obsessed.
Looking back at the anthology I put out in 2013, I always felt my initial intention had not been fully accomplished. I was, and still am, somehow amazed by this odd idea of seven basic plots but I didn't want to say that there are only seven stories in the world, I wanted to question and make fun of that concept. And I never let go of the feeling that I could have done more to make that clear.
That's why I decided to come back to this idea with a more ambitious project – a magazine that will be published every six months or so. I hope the act of using the same seven basic plots over and over again will eventually exhaust them, and make the point that it's ridiculous to put a bunch of stories together just because they share the same basic plot.
So here is the first batch of comics. I hope you enjoy them enough to stay tuned and keep supporting this project. I also encourage you to support the authors featured here as much as possible. I'm deeply thankful to them for having taken the first step of this journey with me.
In terms of pure craft the contents of Seven Stories are perhaps varied, with some of the work getting to grips with its subject matter with confidence and inventiveness while others are noticeably rawer in delivery. The core conceit, however, is such a neat one that it can only be hoped Sobral’s intention to publish new editions of Seven Stories on a semi-regular basis is realised. For the Baeza and Cheverton entries alone this is well worth the price of entry.
Andy Oliver (Broken Frontier)
This issue features work by Amanda Baeza, André da Loba, Ed Cheverton, Joana Estrela, João Sobral, Nathaniel Walpole, Paula Puiupo and Teresa Ferreiro. If these are not enough reasons to get this volume, it's worth to mention the quality of the production of the book itself, full of care and refinement which any professional house would envy... In fact, most of them could learn a lot from O Panda Gordo. [translated from Portuguese]