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Book Making: Ryan Heshka’s bad girls get the Risograph treatment

Bookmaking January/February 2016Fans of Vancouver-based artist Ryan Heshka are familiar with his go-to subject matters. In 2014, he combined several of his campy passions in Mean Girls Club, an art installation and accompanying two-colour “Risographed” over-the-top comic-book story of bad girls gone worse, fighting, stealing, and murdering their way through life.

Bookmaking January/February 2016 2The Risograph process was created in Japan in the mid-1980s and combines the ease of photocopying with the quality of offset printing. Original art is scanned onto an internal master sheet that wraps around a drum, which then rotates at a high speed, inking pages as they are fed through the printer. The process is similar to mimeographing, meaning pages can be fed through the machine multiple times. The pages for Mean Girls Club were passed through twice: once for black line work and shading, and again for pink. The result, Heshka says, was a book that “misregistered a lot. You can see how it has that tactile quality. It has the characteristics of old comics.”

A new, expanded edition of Mean Girls Club, published by U.K.-based Nobrow and being released in North America in February, brings the process full circle, mimicking Heshka’s Risograph technique with a more conventional, less expensive, printing process.