Would you believe that that cover actually tells you the whole story? OK, maybe not totally, but a good chunk of it. After you read it maybe you’ll agree, but I’m not going to explain why here. Oh right, the review! This is set in 2054, right as a lunar eclipse is happening in Alaska. The story is not set in Alaska, but our hero (Eliza) is able to watch it on Starbucks Live Cam. Yes, this is another story about a dystopian future that’s all too plausible based on where we are today (early 2020, future readers, assuming humanity survives that long), but Ines packs all kinds of new ideas into this formula. Most of life in 2054 is lived online, through various types of virtual reality. People do still have jobs, but they’re quickly becoming automated, with very little thought given to what happens to those workers when the jobs are fully automated. Hey, just like today! They’re able to do and see literally anything their heart desires (they have a concert in their living room, go to a rave from 1997, go see Jimi Hendrix in the 60’s, etc.), to the point that they sometimes forget to buy food. They go on like this for a bit, until eventually what she suspects to be an AI breaks through and forces her to communicate. She’s freaked out by this, especially when this keeps happening and she has no control over it, and it culminates (after she’s able to access her medical history which, horrifically, is controlled by McDonald’s) in her finding out she’s pregnant. Despite not having had sex with her boyfriend in at least a year. Things get fucking weird from there, but I’ve spoiled more than enough of this journey. I’ll just say that several parts of this have really stuck with me (I finished this a few days ago and I’ve been gathering my thoughts, which maybe makes this more coherent than usual but probably not), and this is very much worth your time. If you’re optimistic about the future somehow this should cure you, and if not you’ll feel right at home. $19.99
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.