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Zagava - Archetypes by Florence Sunnen

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

If you don't have books on your shelves published by Jonas Ploeger from Zagava Books, then it's time to start experiencing this wonderful small press from Duesseldorf, Germany. In his own words: "Zagava books transcend the boundaries of the weird, the supernatural, the decadent and mystical. Expect the Unexpected!". This is exactly the type of book that I received this weekend and have been eagerly waiting for since ordering the Artist Edition of which 10 were made: Archetypes by Florence Sunnen. An unknown writer to me, I was drawn to the art and concept of 21 character studies of mythological creatures. The book comes in Zagava's signature traycase with copper colored blocking on the spine and perspex window in the front board to reveal the illustrated cover of the book it is holding. I believe Jonas created this traycase for The Feathered Bough to display it's beautifully crafted front boards, and has been using it ever since for some of his lettered books. This artist edition comes with a unique drawing of 1 of the 21 creatures done by Dolorosa de la Cruz. Mine came with The Doll

Once you lift the drawing and it's passe-partout you are treated to the book itself. It is bound in gorgeous thick white paper. I am inclined to guess this is Hahnemuehle stock as well since Zagava uses it alot. I'll inform with Jonas one of these days. It has a lovely rough texture and the white really make the reds of the art and text shine on the front panel and spine. All text block edges are stained bood red to accentuate this. Once you have read all chapters and the art of all 21 characters has soaked in the retinas of your eyes, you'll appreciate this cover art even more.

The next treat comes immediately when you open the book: the endpapers. Hand marbled by Renato Crepaldi. These are a sight to behold. I really like to combination of the gold and purple.

It's a real nice touch that this comes back in the traycase.

Archetypes is a tall book, measuring 31cm (12.2 inches). This is strikingly apparent when you open up the book unto the title page. The Hahnemuehle paper is lovely. It's a beautiful off-white that holds the ink really well. The text is set in Minion Pro type and the titles in Roadway. As you can see, when the paper is top notch, it does not always have to be letterpress to be crisp and sharp and breath quality.

The more I hold this book and leaf through it, the more I admire it and fall in love with it. The art is printed in black, white and silver colors on either blood red or black pages. This is done in a recurring pattern and feels like you are holding an art portfolio in book form.

The drawings by Dolorosa are a matter of taste of course but totally up my alley. Each creature in this bestiarium is instantly recognizable and still retains a unique signature of the artist.

I still have to read each chapter carefully but really look forward to doing so. It feels like a true nourishment to the senses. This book totally lived up to the hype of my own making. It's in the top 5 of books that own, which include Lyra's Stardust and Suntup's The Road in lettered states, so if you ever find one of the 10 in existence, don't hesitate to acquire it, you will have found a treasure for your book shelves.

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James Kirkland
James Kirkland
May 22, 2022

I have Zagava's The King in the Golden Mask illustrated by Michael Hutter and it's amazing. Zagava does nice work.

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