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Various Artists – Baltic Comics Magazine #11: Artventurous

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Baltic Comics Magazine #11

Huzzah for international anthologies! Getting a comic from Latvia is a sure way to keep me fired up to write more reviews for another six months or so (international artists take note). One note right off the bat: it would probably be a good idea for them to put the title of their book on the cover. In this case “Artventurous” refers to art both being made and not made and the various adventures surrounding different types of art. Don’t get me wrong, that cover is going to grab your attention sitting on a shelf anyway, but that one descriptive word might have helped them pick up another reader or two who was too lazy to open the cover. Anyway, for me a 2/3 success rate is more than enough to recommend an anthology, and this one is closer to 4/5 fantastic/provocative/fascinating, which covers that spread quite nicely. Please note that I’m not going to talk about every single story in here (because then what would be left for you to discover?), but a full list of artists is down there in the tags below the review. My favorites from this boo include the closed loop story by Martins Zutis dealing with The Odyssey, the silent piece by KJ Martinet called “Ideal Form” (I don’t want to give away a bit more than that), the fantastically creepy “Leda” by Betty Liang, the mind-boggling amount of detail in “Necropolis” by Jean de Wet, Jen Rickert’s “The Loon” and its shifts between what is happening in the moment and the flashbacks from its murderous protagonist, Konig Lu Q’s simple (but not simplistic) extra commandments, Roman Muradov’s story that disintegrates into little pieces in the middle, the sheer adventurousness (and never discount the value of a giant robot yeti) of the Mikus Duncis story, the social horror of Olive Booger’s piece, the gleeful mayhem of Elina Braslina’s story, and the plausible paranoia of Dilraj Mann’s story. And this is all without me even mentioning Simon Moreton’s story (who, if you read this website at all, you know is a favorite of mine), which should tell you something about the overall quality of this anthology. Honestly, I should maybe even bump up that 4/5 quality estimate, as even the (many) stories I didn’t mention here usually had something going from them, between the vibrant splashes of color and the various social anxieties based on growing up around art or just trying to produce something of value when so much incredible stuff has already been produced. Pick it up if you get the chance, that’s what I’m saying, as it’s impressive that they’ve made it to #11 and they should shoot for many more. $13

Moorman, Ed Choy (editor) – Ghost Comics

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Ghost Comics (edited by Ed Choy Moorman)

Sometimes I make these reviews overly complicated, and I probably will with this one too, so I wanted to sum it up simply: this is a collection of different takes on ghost stories from some of the best small press cartoonists around.  Ta-da!  What more do you need to know?  There are all kinds of highlights to choose from, and somehow there’s not a stinker in the bunch.  That’s a rare thing with anthologies, but Ed has put together quite a cast here.  Things start off strong with Hob’s tale of a dinosaur ghost witnessing everything that follows its death and the eventual destruction of the earth.  From there Jeffrey Brown talks about making a fool of himself to a member of a band he likes, Corinne Mucha implies that the “ghosts” in her dorm were really just an excuse to get people to sleep together for protection, Maris Wicks goes into detail about the creepy and non-creepy aspects of living with a ghost as a kid, Madleine Queripel relates the reality of trying to scatter ashes, Toby Jones (professional boyfriend) goes into how useless he is when confronted with death, Lucy Knisley visits an old school she attended briefly and is shocked by the sheer number of ghosts still around, Allison Cole finds a practical way to rid herself of ghosts, Evan Palmer tells the tale of a knight misguidedly trying to win love, and Jessica McLeod warns of the dangers of ghost tomatoes.  Then there’s my favorite (among many “favorite”) story: Kevin Cannon’s tale of all the major landmarks of the world joining together into a Voltron-like creation to fight evil, how one member of that band is destroyed  and, as a ghost, sees a plot to destroy the world.  Any more detail than that would ruin it, but trust me, it’s a purely awesome thing.  If that still hasn’t convinced you, here’s everybody else involved: Ed Choy Moorman (duh), Aidan Koch, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch, Sarah Morean, Jillian Schroeder, Zak Sally, Abby Mullen, Eileen Shaughnessy, Tuesday Bassen, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Jenny Tondera, John Hankiewicz, Will Dinski, Mark Scott, Monica Anderson, Warren Craghead III and John Porcellino.  Topping off that pile of talent is the fact that this is a benefit anthology, with proceeds going to the RS Eden, which started off as a chemical dependency center and evolved into helping community members at need in all sorts of areas.  So it’s for a good cause, it’s packed with talent and it’s only $10.  Sounds like a no-brainer to me.  $10

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