One of my favorite genres of comics is the anthology. It’s a genre with an endless potential and it’s used in so many creative ways. There’s the Dark Horse format in which a variety of stories are told and it’s often times used to test the market for new series. There’s also the themed anthology in which one subject is chosen and several creators present stories in their own voice; there is no greater example of this, than King Bone Press’ Bandthology series. The point is, they offer a glimpse into a world that usually only exists for just a few pages. If you’re not sucked into this issue by the cover alone then you’re not reading enough comics. What I noticed that was very different about this anthology is that there were several one page comics. These shorts don’t always have a narrative, but they provide some interesting reading and eye-catching art.
One of the first stories we encounter is from James Kochalka. I believe it might be from his American Elf series, but I don’t know for sure. The story is called “Am I Alive” and basically the character is hung over and trying to figure out what to do about it. It’s actually interactive because it asks you to pick a number and follow it to its ending. Of course you’re going to read both, but it’s still fun to pick one and then go back and start again. Kochalka has a second story in the issue entitled “Email.” It stars two creatures that are walking through the forest. One of them mentions that it got a new computer and the other just plays along like they know what that is. The big one that has a computer calls the little one out on not knowing what it is. Let’s just say that that neither of them knows what a computer or email is. It’s a funny story because it takes the lingo that we’ve all become familiar with and applies it to a different situation to show just how stupid the lingo is. It was one of my favorites from the issue.
Probably my favorite story from the entire issue is “It Can Only Get Better.” It follows a political cartoonist from the 1850’s as he wraps his day by exposing the evils of the Whig Party. From there he strolls around town and for some reason is treated like royalty. The guy is a dickhead though and when a commoner talks to him he fucking shoots him. I laughed so hard when I read that. The hilarious part is that the guy just wanted to touch the hem of his coat. It gets better from there. Noah Van Sciver creates a complex and interesting world with only two pages to work with. I enjoyed the art and especially the facial expressions.
Frothy Beveraged Man can only be described as Kool-aid Man’s older brother. He’s a beer mug full of beer and he gets others into plenty of trouble while continuing the mission of… beer or something. I liked this comic. The art style reminded me of something out of MAD and it was short and sweet with fast punchlines and ridiculous stories.
One of the single page stories entitled “The Ultimate Superman Tale” is actually very cool. It’s basically commentary on the role of the creator in comics with a focus on Siegel and Shuster. The art is very simple and captures the golden age of comics very well while delivering a modern message.
Another story I really enjoyed (and the last I’m going to talk about) is called “Lost and Found.” It's basically about a person that finds a lost cat and takes care of it, but before it becomes attached to it they send it out with a note. The note asks if the cat belongs to anyone. After waiting for the cat to return the person checks the note and discovers that someone has answered their question. The art was the drawl for me on this one. Obviously the story is pretty straight forward, but the art was very stylized. I say “person” because they’re genderless by design. I think this is a way of leaving the character open for you to paint own personality and gender on to them. I would definitely check out more from Allison Cole in the future because of her art style.
If you like anthologies or you just want to read some short and weird stories, than definitely check out Alternative Comics. It was a lot of fun and introduced me to a lot of creators that I would otherwise never have known about. It’s also printed on great paper stock and has the heavy ink smell. If you don’t know what I mean you should buy it just because of that.
Creators: Sam Alden, James Kochalka, Grant Snider, Noah Van Sciver, Alex Schubert, Andy Ristaino, David Lasky, Robin McConnell, Allison Cole, Sam Henderson, Mike Bertino, Craig Thopmson and Theo Ellsworth.
Publisher: Alternative Comics