This week’s indie comics round-up features 4 of the very best arthouse indie anthologies from the UK including: the latest instalment of Dirty Rotten Comics; Throwaway Press’ debut collection of eclectic short stories from Matt Dooley Meanderings; Avery Hill’s eclectic think piece Reads; and Sunday supplement meets art school review Save Our Souls.
dirty rotten Comics #7 (Throwaway Press) [star rating=”4″]
Mixing unique story-telling, with beautiful eclectic art and exceptional production values Dirty Rotten Comics is one of the best indie art house anthologies out there. It’s stories are a mix of the weird and wonderful alongside the poignant and profound and this latest installment is no different. Starting off with a stunningly simple strip from Matthew Doodley called Insect Aside, Dirty Rotten Comics meanders through a myriad of genres and art styles to create a really special book. Particular highlights from this issue are Andrez Bergen and Chrus Wahl’s emotive look at depression Loser Nobody; Henry and Sam St Leger’s beautiful yet harrowing Untitled and Lucie Ebrey’s darkly sinister Golem. As well as unique take on London’s dystopian future from Darren Cullen and Mark Tolson When reviewing Dirty Rotten Comics we’ve very consciously referred to it as an arthouse anthology because if you’re expecting a coherent collection stories like Papercuts and Inkstains or Reads (see below) then you may end disappointed. However if you’re looking for some stunning artful and insightful stories that are unlike the more traditional fare you are used to, then you can’t get better than Dirty Rotten Comics.
Purchase Dirty Rotten Comics for £4 from Throwaway Press
Meanderings (Throwaway Press) [star rating=”4.5″]
The first standalone release from Throwaway Press (home of Dirty Rotten Comics) collects together some of Matthew Dooley’s wonderfully quirky and esoteric work into an exquisite package. It includes his various contributions to Dirty Rotten Comics and Offline, as well as his critically acclaimed short This Is The Day The World Will End (about a group of misfits who predict the end of the world via alien invasion and are sorely disappointed when it doesn’t happen). These effortlessly charming tales into one exquisite package makes for a fantastic introduction to Dooley’s quirky yet very relatable world. His wry approach to telling stories mix slice of life and surreal think pieces with simple, yet surreal gags (such as the hilarious Salisbury about the life of a statue, or his collection of blue plaques outlining his career). His tight panels are packed with detail and narrative depth yet he renders the whole thing with a delightful simplicity. With subjects that range from Cheesemore (which is about a portly brandy drinking imaginary friend) to melancholic dialogue free one pager The Desolation of Remote Scottish Lighthouses Meanderings is wondrous introduction to one of the UK indie scene’s most exciting and innovative creators! (And we’re not just saying that because he bears an uncanny resemblance to our editor!)
Purchase Meanderings for £4 from Throwaway Press
Reads #1-3 (Avery Hill Publishing) [star rating=”4″]
What connects Alfred Hitchcock and the history or early cinema; the creation of a silver age comic book; a group of prankster Victorian archaeologists; and a slug/virus hybrid. Well these make up the various stories featured in Avery Hill’s vastly underrated anthology Reads. Mixing intelligent and articulate story-telling with foul-mouthed Victorians and surreal hand-drawn adventures Reads has a unique mix of stories that feel very different to the average indie anthology. For example, The Bullpen by Luke James Halsall and Tim Bird tells the story of a struggling artist and writer at the beginning of the silver age of comics and feels very familiar to a certain prolific pair of creators from the period. While Hitchcock and Film (by Ricky Miller and Bird again) tells the story of the early life of The Master Of Suspense, but also the early days of cinema and makes for an informative and engaging story that educates as much as it entertains. Both are a long way from your average capes or crime story, as are the third offering in each issue from Edie OP whose surreal tales like the Story of Lucious Jellybean about a slug which merges with a virus in a petri dish, and features hand drawn mixed media artwork has a child like simplicity and anarchic charm to it that juxtaposes brilliantly with the more serious Bullpen and Hitchcock. Last but by no means least, and perhaps the true highlight of the whole series are the foul-mouthed antics of Owen D. Pommery’s victorian archaeologists The Megatherium Club. Their adventures are portrayed like something from a Victorian penny dreadful, but with language that could come from Viz, as they look to upstage the famous archaeologist Charles Marsh in an increasingly bizarre and juvenile series of escapades – invariably fuelled by gin!
Purchase Reads #1-3 for £4 from Avery Hill Publishing
Save Our Souls [star rating=”4.5″]
Part magazine and part comic book, Save Our Souls reads like a mix of Private Eye, a Sunday supplement, an arthouse comic book and an illustration catalogue. This debut issue mixes comics strips and sequential stories with long form editorial articles about topics as diverse as past life regression, ebola in West Africa and the World Wrestling Federation, as well as four pages of previews of the new illustrated book The Dark Ages from Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. The articles are illustrated by a fantastic roster of illustrators, including Random Trials Dean Beattie, which helps them to leap from the page and draw you in, however it is the comic strips which are the real highlight of this first issue. There are humorous and daft entries like opener How To Eat Jaffa Cakes, and surreal thought-provoking entries like Ersin Karabulit’s Monochrome (about a world where being colourful becomes unfashionable). There’s dark and twisted social commentary in Mark Stafford’s Accentuate The Positive, alongside poignant tales of post-tsunami Japan in Rebuilding Of Hearts. There’s also visually stunning efforts like V V Glass’ Wendigo (a sinister, blood-soaked horror) and El Diablo and Julien Lois’s A Bolsa De Teresa (which looks like Howard the Duck goes to Cuba!) This eclectic mix of styles means it can look a bit like an art school end of year project on first impressions, however if you read it properly, then it’s anything but, and is actually one of the most accomplished and diverse collection of stories we’ve read in some time! We can’t wait for issue #2!
Purchase Save Our Souls #1 for £7 from Save Our Souls website