In a surprise post on Twitter on Saturday, the Swedish boutique international comics publisher announced,
Hi, we are deciding to wrap things up with Peow this year. Thanks for everything!
— Peow. we safe (@peowstudio) June 5, 2021
Founded in 2012 by Elliot Alfredius, Olle Forsslöf and Patrick Crotty in Stockholm, Sweden the publisher, according to their website, “set out to publish comics that we’d never find in Sweden (extend this to the rest of the world)…making playfully-designed books that WE want to read, chancing on new artists around the world from different fields and backgrounds.” Quite a long way from their start as Sweden’s first dedicated Risograph print shop.
Among the cartoonist they published Jane Mai, Hanna K, Valentin Seiche and many more. Their books were much admired for their fantasy elements and strong design sense – most recently in the Ex.Mag anthology.
Crotty has since relocated to the United States, and works as the Designer for Random House Graphics.
In the Tweet’s attached Google document, Peow explained its sudden resolution – and the underlying issues underpinning it,
“It’s a decision we’ve been considering and talking about a lot over the past year, and there are many reasons for this, and it’s become more and more clear over the last year that it is the right thing to do. First off, Peow is doing fine. We’re not ending because things have been terrible for the books or anything grim like that, but rather more of a personal decision.”
“For a little behind the scenes, Peow was originally Elliot, Patrick and Olle, but a couple years ago Elliot decided to leave Peow, so it’s just been Olle and Patrick running this, so when we say “We” it means Olle and Patrick. In the 10 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve always been working other jobs aside to support ourselves while we were maintaining Peow. We have never been able to pay ourselves a regular salary with Peow, but Peow made money so we could continue publishing books, go to festivals, pay for studio space… essentially keep itself running.
“Over the past few years, we’ve had less and less time for Peow, and it has required more time from us than ever. The good stuff was being outweighed by stressful things, logistics, website stuff, legal stuff [because] we sell things internationally from Sweden, and all this we do on (all) evenings and weekends.. It starts to take a toll on you when you don’t get to take a real vacation for 10 years, and you kinda ask “why”.. Why have I chosen to continue doing this thing in my free time that is giving me mental health problems. Are we just making Peow because it’s what we’re expected to do? But the funny thing is that, nobody was forcing us to do this, it was just we were afraid to stop.
“….Personal interests and passions can change, and we just needed to admit that.”
In the wake of Peow’s shock tweet various names in the global comics community – and Peow’s own authors – responded to the news, including Annie Koyama and Becky Cloonan,
Peow will certainly be missed but I understand your reasons perhaps more than most, and applaud you!
— Annie Koyama (@AnnieKoyama) June 5, 2021
Thank you for all of the amazing books, a catalog of inspiration! Couldn’t have been an easy decision— but Comics are better off because of the hard work, passion and dedication you put into each release!! 💕
— Becky Cloonan 🔮 (@beckycloonan) June 6, 2021
You were the best publishers, no competition! I will miss Peow sooo much, but you're doing the right thing taking care of yourselves 💕
I'll treasure my Peow books and all of the memories we made, and hope to see you again soon! Thank you for everything! I love you guys!!
— Hanna K (@HannaKtweet) June 6, 2021
The loss of Peow acts as yet another wake up call about the continued fragility and stresses of micropublishing. 2021 has also been the year that Koyama Press closed its doors. Comics has a number of small publishers around the world whose staff is just a handful of people who only manage the work in spare time after their day jobs and the return on investment is miniscule for the time and effort put in. In the case of Peow, since the departure of third founder Elliot Alfredius, the declared staff comprised of only Olle Forsslöf and Patrick Crotty – with Zainab Akhtar acting as ‘editor-at-large’ since 2018.
Peow and its intriguing catalogue of books were a regular face at many comics festivals around the world over the years, the small publisher developed its own presence among the crowd and it seems that after this year there will be an even greater sense of absence on the show floors.