Does it really matter if you review anthologies out of order? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, but if it turns out that there are continuing stories from #4 of this series (which was also sent my way) then I apologize. Anyway, this is a pile of stories and drawings by a little over a dozen artists. As always, some of them were more compelling to me than others and, as always, your opinions on which stories are more compelling probably varies wildly from mine. This does seem to be a regularly published anthology series, and the packaging does look gorgeous, so if you’re looking for that sort of thing, maybe check in with them from time to time? Anyway, highlights include the story of how he used to give story ideas to his father every night before he went to sleep and how he couldn’t sleep without the ensuing story by Andy Warner, a trip into (and discussion of) Mexico by Dave Ortega, Luke Healy’s story of following a woman up onto a mountain to see what happened to her (there’s more to it than that, but I’m certainly not going to give it away here), James the Stanton and the search for a Guru, Pat Barrett’s tale of the last days of a space explorer as she tries to save an alien (or are they really the last days?), Jon Chad and the best way to get intergalactically pwned, and Dakota McFadzean’s memories of being a kid, flying, and creating life (sort of). I should also mention the various single pages by Lindsay Watson, as they appeared between the stories and brought a life to the whole anthology that might not have been there otherwise. My absolute highlight for the stories was the piece by The FDZ (writer) and Fouad Mezher (artist). It starts off as a fairly simple story of a man living his last night in Lebanon and an unfortunate encounter with a guard dog, but things take an absolutely brutal turn from there and, once again, I shouldn’t really be talking about it. All kinds of good stuff in here, and it’s 160 or so pages, so you’ll be getting value for your $15.
Rough House #2
It feels like it’s been months since I’ve reviewed an anthology, but I think we all know the basic rules by now. Somewhere between 25% and 90% (very rarely 100%) of the book is going to be somewhere between entertaining and incredible, while a few bits aren’t going to do much for me. The great thing about anthologies is that the percentage that moves you is going to vary from person to person, and on that account this is an incredibly balanced book. Portions of this book are also in color, so if you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if the Pink Panther puked all over a bus stop, wonder no more! Granted, you probably never thought of that before I mentioned it, but you’re definitely thinking about it now. 17 artists contributed stories (or the cover) here, and as usual I’ll mention a few of them that I really enjoyed while leaving the rest of them as surprises for when you eventually read them. This doesn’t mean that I hate or love the stories that I omitted. My thoughts are usually somewhere between those two extremes, which is why I’m not talking about those stories, but it’s also possible that I’m just not thinking about them while writing this review and will comically slap myself on the forehead for forgetting a story after posting this review. Just another unsolicited peek into my reviewing “process”! Stories in here include a swamp thing going into a night club by Nicolas Mahler, Kayle E’s take on whether or not to leave the house, James the Stanton with the aforementioned Puke Banter episode, Melinda Trace Boyce and some memorable nights from her time on the late shift at a diner, Mack White’s story of a fraudulent prophet from Roman times (and this story is from 1997, so you may have seen it before), Doug Pollard’s horrific tale of a monkey who eats too much and his unfortunate cellmate, Connor Shea on the literal war between two big pizza chains, Gillian Rhodes piece on a frog who just wants a job (or a cheeseburger), and Colin Zelinski’s take on the myth involving Leda and Zeus (complete with an overly graphic ending). That’s over half of the artists in here and I thoroughly enjoyed those stories, so that’s already a pretty decent ratio. My wish for all anthologies to have the names of the artists (and the page numbers) on the top or bottom of every page has still not come true everywhere, but the table of contents and the layout at least make it easy enough to figure out who did what. This is well worth a look, and pretty hefty (and colorful) for that $15 price tag.