Panel #3: Space
That cover is a whole lot cooler if you can see the woman whose arms are wrapping around the cover, but what are you going to do? This is an anthology from creators in Columbus Ohio with a loose theme of “space”. That can be taken many different ways, and is in a wide variety of stories. Dara Naraghi & Tom Williams have a fantastic story of the juxtaposition between space exploration and war. Glenn Brewer has a good shortie about, um, well, read it for yourself. Sean McGurr & Steve Black take Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox and run with it (literally). Tony Goins & Andy Bennett have the highlight of the book with a story about a random hookup at a party and what happens when you run into that person randomly the next day. Or at least what happened that time, but it’s just a frank and honest take on the whole thing that it became my favorite in this book. Craig Bogart has a giant smashy alien, and Dansen Stahl & Tim McClure have a wraparound for many pages about unintentionally interlocking conversations on a busy city street. Really the perfect anthology, as nothing was anything less than interesting, which leads to a great reading experience overall. Check it out, they have other anthologies from past years available too, and I’m curious about them now. I think I was kind of harsh on at least some of these people in their individual comic, but now I feel compelled to pick up some other issues and give them another chance (everybody should know by now that I’m always willing to read other issues from people I previously panned, as that’s the only way I’m going to have an informed opinion about anybody, as it’s impossible to discard someone based on one book). OK, ramble over, here’s the website, it’s $3, check it out!
Panel #2: Architecture
Damn, and here I was hoping that this was the first Panel, but one look at that website shows me that this one is, in fact, #2. #1 only had a print run of 300 issues and it doesn’t look like it’s been reprinted since, so so much for that one. Everything else besides #3 looks like it’s available on that website though, for the curious. So how does this one hold up, seeing as how I’m just now getting to it for this website? Pretty well, all things considered. The first piece deals with putting the horrors of the past behind us, in a dark and atmospheric piece by Andy Bennett. Next Dara Naraghi and Adrian Barbu have a nice little piece about figuring out every last angle of a heist… or almost every angle. Then the book veers suddenly into humor (and three cheers for all anthologies that keep the reader on their toes like this), as a series of unfortunate events, chronicled by Dara Naraghi and Tim Fischer, leads to the extravagant home of an intergalactic porn star getting burned down. Next up, Tony Goins and Steve Black have a futuristic story about a crappy future world where everybody gets by on giant suspended bridges and there are constant bombings. The text piece, by Dansen Stahl (with a few illustrations by Tim Fischer), is the biggest misstep in the book. Text pieces are always tricky, but if you’re talking about what is essentially a Revolutionary (that is, American Revolution) group of heroes, isn’t it a much better story in a comic anthology if it’s, you know, a comic? Tom Pappalardo proved to me recently that text in comics can be done well, but I think these two missed a chance for a great comic here. And finally there’s a piece by Tom Williams in which he debates going back to Columbine for a reunion years after the school has been demolished. This is still a pretty solid group of stories, even if it only got better from here. Worth a look if you’ve been following this series and/or these people and want to see what their stuff looked like when they were only relative babies at this business…
Well, here it is, the missing O.P. (original Panel). It seems silly to review this in the conventional sense, as this is the definition of a labor of love, probably taking years to complete. What good does it do to poo-poo this early work, especially when practically everybody in here has gone on to do better work? Instead I’ll just talk about the contents, as plenty of people will probably never see this in its current form (although there are maybe, possibly some plans to post this issue online). All the stories in here are followed up with pretty thorough bios about the creators, or at least they were thorough at the time. There’s also a script, which is always interesting for people who want to see how the sausage is made. As for the stories, there’s an untitled story by Steve Black which is a hodge-podge of seemingly unrelated words and images, a preview story of a wacky university with robots and teenagers by James Hanrahan and Tim Fischer, one oddly placed panel by Dansen Stahl, the story of a classic con by Andy Bennett, a brief story about the future by Tony Goins and Steve Black, a lovely text piece about a local wrestling show by Tony Goins, a heartbreaking story about getting old by Tony Goins, the perfect way to regain fame by Dara Naraghi and Tim McClurg, and (this is how I can tell that this must be old) a series of surprisingly unfunny strips by Tom Williams. Just in case you were like me and thought he must have always been awesome. In future issues the art is better and the writing is crisper, but there’s only one first issue of any series. Oh, and there wasn’t even a theme that year! A minor thing maybe, but it sure seems odd now.