I just now realized that this was different from the PANEL set of anthologies put out by Ferret Press, the ones that I love pretty much every time (which is saying a lot for an anthology). Is there a feud of some kind going on, or are there just too many stories for them all to be contained in one anthology? Or hey, maybe it’s because the PANEL anthologies tend to stick to one theme, while the only theme of this one seems to be “people who were at SPACE in 2012.” Whatever the case, this is a damned solid anthology, and if you find yourself wondering if you really want to pay $20 for an anthology, remember that a good chunk of the proceeds go towards keeping the same price for the yearly convention and generally funding all aspects of the thing. Think of it as a donation to a worthy cause where you come out of it with a fairly hefty anthology that also happens to be mostly in color. I always thought that seeing The Accidentals (by Mike Carroll) in color would be a revelation, and it looks like I was right. If only he could afford to put them all out like that! Ah well. Stories in this one include a John Steventon piece about the eventful birth of his daughter, a battle for the fate of the universe that came a little too late by Jon Michael Lennon and Thor Fjalarsson, an utterly unique vision of the afterlife by Leslie Anderson, a Christmas alone for a bear by Shawn Smith, an uneventful conquering of the world by Bob Corby, Kathleen Coyle and Jason Young’s piece on Kathleen’s first time seeing Return of the Jedi as a young child, Brian John Mitchell exploring the meaning of it all (he also edited this whole thing), Mari Naomi’s attempt to square the image in her head of her grandfather with the horrible stories that she was told about him after he died, Mike Kitchen’s hilarious take on the attention span of iPad users, Steve Myers and his tale of reality blending with fantasy, Matt and Jeanie Bryan’s unique take on a ruined date, Kel Crum’s computer virus, Kris and Mary Lachowski’s piece on a bizarre half dream half reality conversation, Blair Kitchen’s superhero who’s having a really tough time saving the damsel in distress, a sneak preview of Dave Kelly and Lara Antal’s tale of the Night Watchman (probably not what you’re thinking, but maybe you nailed it!), another great Homegrown Alien tale by Joe Davidson, a one page shortie by Ray Tomczak, and a brief bubbly piece by Maryanna Rose Papke. The color was done really well, and it was great to see some of these characters done how they were “meant” to be done (for all I know the creators were perfectly content for these stories to always be in black and white but couldn’t resist the chance to change it here). It’s a nice pile of stories and seemed to be really representative of the work of these people, which is why this thing exists in the first place, right? $20
The Bridge Project
Just so it’s clear, as of 10/07/09 that website is still “under construction”.Â Well, it does lead to a fair amount of samples from Matt and other places to learn about this book, so it’s better than most “under construction” websites, and this book is new enough that it might really be under construction.Â I’ve just become jaded from seeing that warning on countless websites only to have the construction never start.Â Anyway, how about the book?Â This is an anthology with a unique goal: team up on cartoonist living in Portland with one living in San Francisco, let them do their thing and see what comes out of it.Â Some of these stories just have one person drawing, some of them mix both artists in, but the mildly surprising thing is how well all of this works.Â Collaborations can be a tricky business, but Matt seems to have found the magic formula.Â This did take a couple of years to put together, so I guess technically he did have time to work some bugs out.Â Stories in here include The Forlorn Hope (by Shannon O’Leary & Ryan Alexander-Tanner, dealing with the infamous Donner party), The “The Bridge Project” Project (by Peter Conrad, the only solo piece in the book due to Peter’s partner crapping out on him), Nerd Prom (by Carolyn Main & Jesse Baggs about cartoonists in relationships getting along a little too well at a convention), Shanghooked (by Graham Annable & Scott Campbell), Lost Intersection (by Matt Leunig & Seamus Heffernan, the heart of the book), Jumpers (by Sina Grace & Susan Tardif, about a long distance relationship disintegrating), Future Jerks (by Jonathan Hill & Calvin Wong about, um, vegan jerks in the future), Dark Matter (by Tom Lechner & John Isaacson, dealing with an especially creepy invasion), The MVPs (by Josh Frankel & Greg Means, it’s about star basketball players yearning to make comics), and The Doppelganger (by Tessa Brunton & Vanessa Grunton, it’s all about the various evil twins we have all over the place.Â All that and there’s still room for a couple of short pieces by Rina Ayuyang & Erika Moen (an untitled piece about trying to fit in in Portland), Mari Naomi & Rachel Mendez (Inga and the Whales, a heartbreaking tale (almost certainly an urban legend) about a whale thanking its rescuers), and David Chelsea & Two Fine Chaps (that’s really what they’re called, it deals with David’s uncle having a stroke).Â It’s packed, is what I’m trying to say, and there’s really not a weak piece in the bunch.Â Graham Annable is always worth the price of admission to me and his piece on the sea serpent was brilliant, there were some damned useful tips in The Doppelganger (if you ever run into yours, that is), Peter Conrad was far too nice in not naming the slacker that promised him a script for months, and the center of the book by Matt & Seamus, dealing with a few people and their relationships over the years, was a perfect place to do some artist swapping.Â So now that I’ve mentioned how great the content was, I at least have to mention the layout.Â No table of contents, but that was made up for by the inclusion on the bottom of every page of the artists.Â Â It seems to be the norm not to mention that on the page in anthologies, and it bugs me every time it’s not included, so kudos to Matt for that.Â It’s an impressive achievement, here’s hoping this didn’t scare him off editing anthologies altogether and he can keep this concept going with other cities.Â And did I mention this is a measly $9.95?