Whether you're a newcomer looking to experiment or a seasoned reader looking for a few fresh reads, get your feet wet with these comix anthologies featuring everyone from Jeffrey Brown to Sophie Crumb to complete unknowns. There’s guaranteed to be at least something for anyone.
Fantagraphics’ Summer of 2005 anthology is healthy mix of autobiographical and philosophical short comics by some of the most prominent names in “alternative” comics, by which we mean those stories to which much of humanity would respond, so it’s a varied collection.
The slice of life tales don’t break type by straying from the neurotic wanderings of dissatisfied nerds and hipsters, but since that’s probably what you’re buying the book to read, be satisfied that they’re all top-notch, particularly Gabrielle Bell’s resonant “I Feel Nothing,” and the meticulously clean art of Paul Hornschemeier, who’s still spearing the reader on the blade of human loneliness. We twist in grateful pain, Mr. Hornschemeier.
Bell also provides the cover, a single panel cropped to attain a singular gravity, a real testament to the immediate emotional availability of her simple linework. Andrice Arp’s “The Jewels of the Sea” tells a classic Japanese folk tale in a fun and friendly way that demands future additions. The developing Sophie Crumb, while living an interesting life, gives us three very different quick tales.
Then there’s Anders Nilsen’s “The Beast,” a visually intriguing monologue by a faceless — but you know what? Just go ahead and buy it, it’s chock full of laughter and tears, and Jeffrey Brown.
You like Jeffrey Brown, right, kids? Yeah, ya do.
24-Hour Comics All-Stars
Anthologies and comics produced completely in 24 consecutive hours frequently have a quality cap on them, so it’s quite a nice surprise to see this collection of solid talent stepping up to the challenge.
It’s odd to see the shift in work that occurs when the pressure’s on a creator: Dave Sim’s tale manages to be both gloomy and touching (in the immediate, good sense, not the Hallmark Channel schmaltz), Scott McCloud brings out his inner Bill Plympton for an odd but fun gallivant around town, and Chris Eliopoulos goes as far as memory recalls he’s ever been in summoning Bill Watterson.
David Celsi/Chelsea is still himself, albeit in a scratchier style, but where the heck has he been all this time? Now we’re hungry for more.
Also, by rights one should be stunned by what Tone Rodriguez can draw in 24 hours. Just a fair warning.
Brendan McGinley is a long-time writer for ComicBase. His comic favorites include anything featuring Grim Jack, Punisher, Guy Gardner, Green Lantern, or written buy Evan Dorkin, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Deadpool… and the list goes on. But he insists he is of discriminating tastes.