We continue our look at some of the fantastic comics released by small press superstars Good Comics (see also our review of FML). This time we check out The Good Comics Reader Volume 2, Return by Niki Bañados and Fishes May Come Back – Emre Altindag.
Good Comics Reader Volume 2 – Various
This anthology from the fine folks at Good Comics works as both a fantastic reminder of some of the great alumni that this micro publisher has, as well as being a wonderful discovery point for people looking for a new small press favourite. Based around the concept of a dark and stormy night it allows the creators to really flex their creative muscles and it brings us a wonderful range of stories., from simple one-pagers to more complex and rambling offerings. Standouts include familiar names like Josh Hicks (Glorious Wrestling Alliance) with his Darker Fish comic tale, Olivia Hicks (Grand Slam Romance) with a high falutin’ western and Rozi Hathaway (Cosmos, Njalla) with dream like world of a night time ballerina. But there’s also wonderful offerings from the likes of Mathilde Tollec with a glorious black and white wood land tale and Olivia Sullivan’s infographic story which reminded us of George Wylesole’s Ghosts Etc.. With a glorious mix of styles ranging from Gareth A Hopkins’ abstract comics to Paddy and Sam’s own simple message of positivity, it’s a really lovely book from a fine group of people that have come out of a difficult year, and a perfect collection of this wonderful publishers ethos and range of talent.
Return by Niki Bañados
We first discovered Niki’s work when she won for the Laydeez Do Comics prize in 2019. Her book ‘Shivers in London’ was about her move from Australia to the UK and now with this new book she is heading in the other direction (back to her native Australia). What follows is more of a series of moments that stitch together to form a really wonderful snapshot of a key moment in Niki’s life, than a traditional ‘story’. In the same way that creators like Kat Chapman (Follow Me In) and Lizzy Stewart (Walking Distance) are able to capture these wonderful collections of moments to make a narrative, Niki does the same. She focuses on the minutiae of her life, whether that is birds in the park or her partners’ sleep habits and combines these with important life moments and personal soul searching to create a really intimate read. This style creates a textured and nuanced series of sketches which welcome us into her world and bring us along for the ride in a very gentle and calming way. Allied with some sublime artwork which feels both sketchbook like and raw, but also structured and very inventive when it comes to layout and panel design, it’s a really wonderful read from a talent who we will always be keen to see new work from – even if she is on the other side of the globe.
Fishes May Come Back – Emre Altindag
Wordless comics are a challenge for both creator and reader alike – especially when they weigh in at close to 50 pages like Emre Altindag’s dream like story of a fisherman and his young blind son. While a wordless book is not always our preferred choice, this is clearly a book which has been carefully constructed and deliberately told without words to gain maximum effect. It’s a difficult process to create, and one which has to be matched by the reader, as the lazy shortcuts of dialogue and sound effects are gone and you have to really study and take in the story in a different way to usual. As a result this is not the easiest book to get into, and the plot does not help, as it is quite conceptual and does not have a conventional narrative. It’s story is lilting and dream like, as the fisherman goes off on a spiritual journey leaving his son at home, and while this creates some lovely visuals it is not easy to understand exactly what is happening. However, because the artwork is really beautiful you persevere and are ultimately rewarded with a comic which is not what you are used to reading. The pencil artwork has a real rawness and fragility to it and matches the subtlety of the story telling. Because you have to study each panel you take in the information in a different way. As such you notice the difference between the moments featuring the father and son, and the loosee more simple nature of the dream like forest scenes. While not the most immediate of reads you can see why Good Comics have added it to their slate, as it is an interesting and thought provoking read, which will challenge you as much as it will entertain you. And sometimes that’s what reading comics that are out of the mainstream is all about.