This is an anthology with mostly artists from the area around Big Planet Comics, meaning mostly the Washington D.C. area. I’ll start this review with a complaint about anthologies in general and this one in particular, and this is a complaint I’ll be putting in all anthology reviews until comics society as a whole fixes it. For an anthology you have three ways to let readers know who did each story. You can list the title and author at the bottom or top of each page (still my preferred method), list a table of contents with the page numbers clearly listed there and on each page (that last bit trips up more people than you would think) or you could have the writer/artist clearly take credit for each story either at the beginning or the end of it. This anthology went with the second option, mostly, choosing instead to include a table of contents with page numbers listed… and no page numbers listed on each page. It’s not the worst thing in the world for a 48 page anthology, but it’s still annoying. Anyway! This was still a solid anthology overall, and a nice sampler of the work of some of these artists. Highlights for me included the Horse Story by Jensine Eckwall, a Mark Burrier comic that I hadn’t seen (check the archives, the man has been around for ages), Saman Bemel-Benrud’s tale of internet culture mixing with real life, Robin Ha and the horror of The French Cows, Box Brown’s horrifying tale of what magic is, Angelica Hatke’s story of a hen laying a football egg and what comes after, and Jared Morgan’s harrowing tale of life inside the first level of a video game. I didn’t actively hate any of the stories here, always a plus, and it was a nice mix of talent. Just maybe make it easier to find each individual story next time? Comicland, maybe we can get together and make a law on this. $5
The Lucky Ones Now Available! $6
Sketchbook review! There, just wanted to save people the trouble who looking for me to say something substantive here, as there is no way to review sketchbooks. If you like Mark’s work (and there’s now plenty of his stuff on this page you could check out), then checking out a sketchbook is a natural extension of his stuff. All sorts of sketches of people, places, things, ideas… what you’d expect from a sketchbook. Mark has almost a letter of apology in the back of the book, saying that this is all just thoughts on paper and that, while there are many artists who do sketchbooks that have them as art in their own right, he wouldn’t consider this as such. That’s more for history to decide, assuming history even notices that people were stapling artistic pamphlets together for their friends and hangers-on. As for present day, it’s a simple formula: if you like Mark’s work, you’d probably be very interested in this. If not, this certainly isn’t the best way to get acquainted with his work.
The Intruder Now Available! $4
Hooray for new stuff from Mark Burrier! This one is a pretty straightforward thriller, as a clerk finds two people making out in a basement room of his store and has to deal with them. Oh, and one of the intruders has a knife. It’s a tense and thoroughly creepy book, and of course it looks gorgeous, as pretty much all of his books that I’ve seen seem to do. $4
OK, so there’s a ton of “this was my convention experience” comics out there. So what? The world always needs another good story, and it always needs to have a chance to examine its own behavior. For example, I compared Mark to Seth in an earlier review. Turns out that’s a far from unique perspective, but that’s fairly obvious. I’m guessing this is from an SPX, just because of the obvious size of the convention center, but it could have been anywhere. A great look at the inner workings of one of these shows and what the average random guy sitting at a table goes through. Contact info is up there…
I have a new strategy for books that I’m more than slightly confused by. I’m just going to say “This book made me feel ____” before I get started, so you’ll have an idea of what a book did to me, even if the review itself ends up being almost entirely useless to you. This book made me feel flummoxed. Beautiful, Seth-like art, an interesting, coherent story for the two thirds of the book, then the last third kind of came out of nowhere. I was thrilled to see “Part One” on the back of this book because that means he plans to have this all make some sort of sense, and I’ll definitely be coming back for more, if only to see how this all ties together to make any sense. Contact info is above, it’s worth the $3 just for the first bit. It’s not like I don’t like the last third, I just don’t see how it all ties in yet. It’s OK, I’m a patient man and he says on his website that this is a long story.
This is half of a flip book with Brian Clopper, in case you were wondering. You know, either I’m getting dumber or these silent issues are just getting harder and harder to figure out. This one is about a blind inventor and his son. Any more info than that is up to your interpretation. I know that the boy is searching for things in the high weeds and his father seems to be paranoid about losing him. but those could be things that I’m making up. I liked the art and it’s possible that I liked the story. Hard to tell, really. I’d like to see more from this guy so I don’t have to be so darned indecisive, but there you have it. Go to his website, maybe you can learn more about this there.