Our latest small press spotlight looks at some of the best new small press comics available today including: a man and his dragon go off adventuring in all ages adventure Gallant and Amos; Broken Frontier’s annual look at the best of small press in the Broken Frontier Small Press Year Book 2018; and a cool music themed fanzine from the Nice Gang illustration collective, called Support Your Local Zine.
Gallant And Amos (Fair Spark Books)
Adventuring forth from the pages of the Little Heroes Anthology comes this highly entertaining tale of a knight and his dragon courtesy of writer artist Rob Barnes. Released via Fair Spark Books (a new publishing company set up by Little Heroes Aaron Rackley), Gallant and Amos is funny and quirky story with loads of energy, enthusiasm and plenty of jokes. It features two stories: Valley of The Snowmen which sees our heroes take on some mysterious icy creatures in the northern kingdom; and Follow The Leader which sees them encounter something much more out of this world. Barnes’ story have a real newspaper gag strip feel to them, despite being in a traditional comic book form, and he definitely keeps up the pace of a newspaper strip with each page ending on a punch line. This makes it very readable as you want to keep turning the page to see what the next joke will be, but unfortunately this does mean the story lacks a bit of depth in terms of character development and overall direction. Having said that, it is still a lot of fun – and perfect for young kids looking for that next bunch of laughs after finishing an issue of The Phoenix. The cartoony art again feels very newspaper strip like and reminded us of everything from Asterisk (which may just be Gallant’s moustache) to Calvin & Hobbes (which may be all those snowmen) to Matt Strott’s work on Late Knights. So if you’re looking for a fun all ages indie book to entertain your kids with, then you can’t go wrong with this.
Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2018
Andy Oliver and the BF team continue to shine a spotlight on the artier end of the small press spectrum with this excellent annual anthology. As usual it compromises work from the BF ‘Six to Watc’h along with some of the BF faves. Stand outs in this volume include Josh Hicks’ tale about a hi-tech female assassin and her missing phone charger, Alex Potts’ story about two men who accidentally swap clothes in a swimming pool; Anja Uhren’s story about a family on a troublesome car journey which feels very ‘Avery Hill’; and Till Lukat’s Tillie Walden-esque story Unbearably Smooth. There are also some fantastic single page strips such as Lord Hurk’s No Returns which features a spinning wheel of failed futures, plus Robert Well’s two pager about a woman collecting money for fat cats. As with any anthology some stories work well and some don’t always find the mark and it all depends on your personal taste in comics as to which these are – we certainly found some of the more avant garde offerings in here a bit challenging. However, it comprises a great mix of art styles from quite conventional to very abstract so there should be something in here for all, and as always it is a fantastic calling card for the work Broken Frontier does championing small press creators and giving them a platform to rise upwards from..
Support Your Local Zine
Bands and comics make for perfect partners and this anthology, in support of a Irish housing charity, is no exception. It comprises an awesome collection of stunning art from the Nice Gang illustration collection, all of which are based on the theme of new bands. Although there is mainly an emphasis on pin ups there are a couple of longer stories including: Sean O’Reilly’s abut a band manger with misspelled merch and also one abut a super cool girl called Lofi with her own branded headphones. There is a fantastic mix of styles but most involve full colour and hyper stylised work (just check out the super eye catching cover as a sample), and is there is a great variety on show from stylised abstracts, to 80s film posters to quirky contemporary cartooning and also some Manga influenced artwork – all of which is no surprise for a comic from a group of illustrators! (It also reminded us a lot of last year’s Wine & Zine collection Swap, which is no bad thing!) While it may be a bit light on actual comic story content it is still a really fun and colourful collection of work and a great showcase of a group of artists who were all new to us – plus it is all in aid of a great cause along the way.