Various: International Anthologies
Anybody out there curious what the British comic scene is like these days? No? Then shame on you, there’s nothing for you to see here. For the sane members of the viewing audience, read on. There are eight artists in this, four of which are on this site somewhere: Gary Northfield, Nick Abadzis, Tom Gauld and Dave Shelton. The concept of this anthology is simple: each creator gets to work with one sentence, and one sentence only, of their choosing. Then they have six pages to tell that story, only using the words in that sentence, if any. Here are the sentences: I want your body and soul; Walk towards the light; What could possibly go wrong?; You’ve gone up in my book now your grandad had a hook; Like a bird-call, but harsh and distorted, like sounds in a cave; Be a happy, healthy dog; Heavens to Betsy, Miss Wickerstaff, have you no shame?; and If I stumbled from your party at three in the morning, would everything turn out fine? There’s not a single bad story in here. My favorite of the bunch changed almost every time I read a new one, which makes this nothing short of a phenomenal success in my book. The price is a bit steep at $12.50 but this is a rare chance to see creators from “across the pond”, as they say, all in one place and getting the chance to really shine. Here’s the e-mail address of the publisher and I really think this book should get some attention…
One of these days I’ll figure out how to do a review for an anthology. I liked the vast majority of it. Lots of familiar faces, either from other anthologies or just things that I’ve come across, like Alexsander Zograf and Jakob Klemencic. I’ve mentioned before that I think Stripburger puts out some of the best anthologies going, right? Good. This is over 200 pages and has a great insert with samples from all of the cartoonists and contact information for everybody. Damn you, finite amount of money! Anyway, the stories here are about all sorts of things. Vague enough for you? Life, love, work, futility, time, zoos, rebellion, dreams, hunger, suicide, Hitler, hostages, trolls, elves, oblivion, family, trickery. and death. There, who says these things have to be complicated? This one is about a year old (as of 2/16/03) but they have a new anthology available for preorder from Top Shelf. Come on, aren’t you getting sick of all these American comics?
Anthologies are, invariably, a tricky proposition. How do you recommend something that has 3/4 great stories, but 1/4 of it sucks? Or how about if that number is turned around and 3/4 of it sucks, but the other 1/4 of it is so amazing that you think everyone should read it? Well, that issue can be dealt with another day, because this book is almost all at least worth reading, if not great. It’s an anthology of handicapped people from Europe and it’s something else. Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland and France all had people contribute to making this book. Chances are you haven’t heard of most of these people, unless you follow the scene in other countries. I was happy to learn that there are so many other issues of this series available. It’s up to #20 now along with a few special issues, and most of them are anthologies with a theme of come kind. Once I move out of my current place in Champaign, I’m going to send away for as many of these things as I can afford and see if they’re all as enjoyable as this one.
What kind of stories are in this mini? Well, there’s the man with no arms who has to find a way to take a piss, an impotent bigot wandering around town, two people in a convalescent home who can’t get sexual satisfaction, and a wheelchair race in hell. As I look through this again, maybe I was being too generous in saying that the whole thing worked. There’s not a bad story in the bunch, which is saying something, but a couple of them aren’t much past average. And if that’s the worst thing that I can say about a book, that has to be a good thing. I also expected more of a sense of anger at the non-handicapped world. I don’t know why I thought that would be the case, and there are hints of it here and there, but it’s not anywhere near as pervasive as I thought it might be. If you’re at all curious to see what the scene is like in Europe, this is the best place I’ve seen to start looking.
Check out the website: www.ljudmila.org/stripcore/com.htm