I might have a different criteria for a good anthology than most people. When I get an anthology, I get it to check out work from a lot of different people at once. Therefore, as long as the vast majority of them arenâ€™t actively bad, I usually feel like it was a good anthology. Well, there wasnâ€™t a single bad story in this, so mission accomplished. Lots of familiar names in this (Cole Johnson, Zack Soto, Dan Zettwoch, Jesse Reklaw, Thien Pham, HOB, Damien Jay, Gabrielle Bell) and some unfamiliar names (Howard John Arey, Ellen Lindner, Andrice Arp), which is always a good thing. More than a few of those people are getting e-mails from me to see if they want to be in the distro, in case you were wondering. Thereâ€™s no theme here, which is also a good thing, and stories include a young girl reluctantly spending time with her father, a man trying to find a working bathroom, a cute pug, getting sucked into the television, dating literal monsters, a stranded pirate rhymer, giant babies taking over the world, and how horrible it is to quit smoking. Great stuff in here all around and itâ€™s only $11.95, well worth a look. Hereâ€™s the Alternative Comics website, or just click on the title if youâ€™re feeling spendyâ€¦
A free sampler of some cartoonists you publish?Â What a great idea.Â And not just your average sampler, as the stories in here are self-contained, not just bits of stories to show off the artwork.Â They even have more available!Â It’s a good thing to be this impressed before I even get to the contents.Â Stories in here include Julia Gfrorer’s (and I would love to hear how that’s pronounced) story about getting killed by the chief man-witch and having to babysit for his child, Andrice Arp’s tale of a creep on an Amtrak train getting shot down, Zack Soto’s quiet piece about a relationship falling apart (told as an actual physical beating), Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg’s story of a cat trying to figure out the treat it got on Thanksgiving that was the best thing ever (and its sorrow at never being able to get said treat again due to the ethical constraints of its vegetarian owner), Farel Dalrymple’s piece on a botched magic spell and a girl who beats up boys on a regular basis (the only story that was a “part 2”, but it held up fine by itself) and a silent sleepy story by Theo Ellsworth.Â On the Spark Plug website they say that it’s available for $.01 and postage, but I’ll bet if you ordered a healthy stack of comics from them and asked politely they’d probably throw a copy in for you.Â Or maybe Nerd Burglar is better (as it’s also free), but I haven’t seen that one yet and this one if fine by itself.Â Any time I get a story told from the perspective of a cat I’m happy, as I’m apparently slowly turning into a middle aged woman.Â I still only own one cat though, so all hope isn’t lost for me yet…
The Secret Voice #1
Damn you Zack Soto! Don’t you know that naming your new, fancypants comic the same as your old mini just confuses people like me? Well, the difference here (besides completely different content) is that this one is $4.95, looks fantastic and is published by somebody other than Zack. He says inside this here comic that he’s always wanted to do a regular comic series and he seems serious, so let me just say: please don’t be kidding. Everybody seems to want to do a regular series and then they peter out after 1-6 issues. Once you get past that point it seems like the series continues, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for this to come out three times a year. Nothing against Zack personally, but why get so attached when there’s such constant disappointment in the comic world? I really hope he does keep it up though, because if this issue is any indication he could have some great stuff in him. The bulk of this issue is about Dr. Galapagos, a pretty straightforward superhero type (although Zack says there’s more to him than that that we’ll see in later issues). He needs the severed hand of a troll king for… something. Mayhem and action a’plenty, and there are certainly worse things in the world than that. Then there’s the story of a shipwrecked man who finds a hole in the middle of the ocean that sure seemed familiar. Maybe from an anthology? Either way, good stuff. Also it looks like he’s setting up a whole Secret Voice universe of characters, and he uses Smog Emperor in this one to get a Game Boy back from some bullies. He also puts in an origin story for a few of the characters, which is a great idea. It looks, from everything in here, like Zack is serious about this and he’s in it for the long haul. He has a main feature, he’s creating characters for the other features and he seems to genuinely want to keep this going for years to come. Good luck to him and kudos on starting it, I just hope that I’ll be rambling about #15 of this series in five years.
The Secret Voice #1
This is a short book with two pretty simple stories. One is about a Galactus-like creature coming down to Earth to methodically destroy it, and the other is about the reactions of one person to the inevitability of his destruction. I’d heard a lot about Zack, but this issue was (and he admitted this in the start of the book) a bit rushed. The back page tells of two other books that equal around 200 pages, so I’d love to see something a bit bigger so I could have an accurate judgment of his stuff. As for this one, I liked it. He’s been around doing comics for awhile and this was a good short book. There’s probably a bunch more stuff on his website, so it’s going to have to go on my “Ill buy this one of these days” list, at least until I see him at some convention or other. Check out his stuff, he looks talented to me…