Reading Pile: Stages of Rot GN
Originally published back in 2017, Stages of Rot was a 2018 Eisner Award nominee for Best Graphic Album as well as a 2018 MoCCA Arts Festival Awards of Excellence winner in the Long Form category. I had originally missed out on it, but thankfully this new edition was offered when creator Linnea Sterte launched a new title on Kickstarter (A Frog In the Fall) back at the end of 2021. It's noted that this will be the final printing of this book though, which is a little mind boggling because it's utterly fantastic.
The book is a quiet sci-fi contemplation of the mysteries of life and death, starting with the passing of a massive sky whale creature. Each chapter jumps down the timeline to show us how the world reacts and builds around this death, from the scavengers harvesting its carcass to the mold forests that rise up afterwards and the various clans and societies that develop around the dead creature.
Sterte's minimalist style utilizes clean line work and a lot of fluid, organic forms in a nearly documentary approach to storytelling. Her masterful sense of pacing highlights the stillness and quiet between panels as much as it does the action and violence of nature. The influence of the likes of Miyazaki and Moebius are fairly potent throughout as well, and I love some of the more obvious homages as they all have a home in this richly realized alien landscape.
This was Sterte's debut title, and the subtle scope of her worldbuilding and the strength of her storytelling is simply breathtaking, especially considering that the bulk of the book is silent. As I said early, it's a little mind boggling that this may be the last printing of this book, so I would highly recommend hunting down a copy. It clocks in at 152 pages and 17 x 22 cm, plus it features the short companion piece Blood Caudex. You can order directly from Peow Studio or through Silver Sprocket.