High Times: Delving into Nobrow's Leporello Series

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Holding a Nobrow Press offering provides one of the most wonderfully tactile experiences one can enjoy in the world of comics. That’s obviously a given and, admittedly, hardly an original observation amongst devotees of their back catalogue. Of all their “must handle” publications, though, the series that perhaps appeals the most in terms of purely physical aesthetics is their Leporello range. The latest publication in this imprint is High Times: A History of Aviation, comprising a beautiful twenty-panel fold-out panorama (front and back) housed within a slip cover presenting the history of humankind’s attempts to take to the skies – from the ill-fated mythological folly of Icarus and Daedalus to our first tentative steps into space.

High Times is Nobrow’s fourth Leporello presentation. Previous entries have included Micah Lidberg’s beautiful Rise and Fall chronicling the demise of the dinosaurs and the evolution of mammal life, John Sibbick’s intricately detailed Flesh and Bones which recreates the anatomical complexity of the natural world, and Ping Zhu’s Swan Lake bringing a packed theatre’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet to life, from the dancers to the audience through to the backstage and front-of-house staff. All stylistically very diverse but all sharing a commonality of purpose – to vividly transport the viewer into the worlds they so eye-catchingly depict.

Berlin-based partnership Golden Cosmos (Doris Freigofas and Daniel Dolz) are the creators behind the aeronautical adventures on show in High Times. As contradictory as it sounds, they give an almost claustrophobic clarity to their centuries-spanning tour of the history of flight. Each single panel illustration that makes up the greater frieze is crammed full of busy detail and yet their linework and use of shape is elegant in its simplicity. When High Times is displayed in its fullest, pulled-out form, Freigofas and Dolz’s stunning use of colour becomes markedly apparent in its vibrancy and flamboyance. From the failed yearnings of those first doomed attempts to take to the air to the sense of wonder of finally conquering the skies, through to the horror of war in an aerial arena and the final triumph of lunar exploration, the crucial developments of each era are memorably evoked in the most extravagant and striking hues.


Each side of High Times opens up into a ten-image panorama

As with all Nobrow’s Leporellos, High Times works on the dual level of being a gorgeous piece of graphic design that can be appreciated by more adult sensibilities and one that has a near magical appeal to a younger mind. What child could fail to be entranced by the imagery on offer here? And, backing this up, the detachable cover contains an overview of the key moments in aviation over the last 200-plus years (below) that adds a welcome educational element, transforming High Times into a truly “all-ages” publication.

Strictly speaking it’s a matter of debate as to whether High Times is a comic strip or not but it is, undeniably, a graphic narrative, and a quite gorgeous one at that. Buy it, display it and find yourself captivated with childlike fascination by Golden Cosmos’s dazzling array of determined sky-bound pioneers and their wondrous inventions.

High Times: A History of Aviation is available from Nobrow Press priced £10.00 or $16.00. For more on the Leporello series check out their website here.

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