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
Is the world ready for an anthology based on allotment gardening?Â Well, considering the fact that the world doesn’t seem to be ready for small press comics in general and it seems like a bit of a moot point, doesn’t it?Â Still, those of you reading this are probably inclined to give it a try, so don’t run away based on what seems like boring subject matter. The great thing about these anthologies is the wide range of colors, styles and cultural backgrounds, so at the very least you’re bound to find at least parts of this book gorgeous.Â That being said, honestly, to me the subject matter was often a little dull.Â Granted, this is a wildly creative group of people who took the subject into unexpected areas, but chunks of it didn’t do a lot for me.Â Highlights include Ruta Briede’s painted piece about a growing garden gnome, Sabine Moore’s hungry carrot, Malin Biller’s heartbreaking tale of family life contrasted with the happiness of vacations, Yoshi’s Garden Gnome Liberation Front, Irkus Zeberio and Hitler’s doubles, James Turek with some useful advice for long-distance murdering, and Lai Tat Tat Wing’s cautionary tale of the future. The highlight of the comic was again the manga portion by Hironori Kikucki, as he drifted off while contemplating the subject matter and came up with something completely different and fantastic.Â I’m guessing the translating errors are unintentional, but they add an extra layer of funny to the whole thing.Â According to his bio he mostly does stories for teenagers, but he should really consider branching out into the small press world where he can get creative.Â All told it’s far from an awful anthology, but I wouldn’t list it as one of the greats either.Â If you’re looking to explore the international world of comics this is a great place to get a number of names and contact information, if you’re already a regular reader of this series this is the one I’ve seen so far that you could maybe get away with skipping.Â Then again, it’s only $8 for 111 colorful pages, so it’s up to you.