Various Artists – Big Planet Comics Anthology
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
Lindner, Ellen & Day, Jeremy (editors) – Strumpet #2
Who likes their anthologies to be international? Everybody? Then you’re in luck! Women from all over the globe contributed to this one. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, like all anthologies, but that mix still leans heavily in favor of entertaining/thought-provoking stories. Stories include the mundane aspects of a day in the life of an astronaut in the future by Myfanwy Tristam, Robin Ha’s trials and tribulations while traveling through Italy, Rachael Ball with probably the most visually striking piece about (literally) capturing shadows, Ellen Lindner’s work as an extra and her quest to meet Bill Murray, J. Homersham’s silent tale of a fish party, Patrice Agg’s story of communication problems and their unfortunate resolution, an excerpt from Nicola Streeten’s tale of her abortion (which I’m guessing also includes other subjects, but the excerpt just deals with the abortion and the immediate aftermath), Karrie Fransman’s tales of two different comic conventions, Shamisa Debroey’s plans for the future, Badaude’s story of artists at work and play, Lisa Eisenberg’s homesickness manifesting itself into a floating trip home, Emily Lerner’s tale of a road trip to retrieve some old items from storage, Julia Scheele’s love letter to a bus and Kat Robert’s delightful idea of a very brief interlude between this life and the next. I’m leaving a few out because hey, what’s life without surprises? Overall this is a damned solid pile of stories, more than worth shelling out $10 bucks to give this 90+ page book a shot.