Anthologies are the life blood of indie comics, with fantastic examples like 100% Biodegradable and Sliced Quarterly offering fans multiple ideas in a single dose. With Papercuts and Inkstains, Madius Comics are looking to join the cool kids anthology club, but can this eclectic series help show the worth of the anthology or will it only help confirm why the single story format dominates the shelves?
Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer: Mike Sambrook, Robin Jones
Artist: (Issue 1) Nick Gonzo, Kevin Pospisil, Stephen Weafer (Issue Two) Rory Donald, Jim Lavery (Issue 3A) Angela Sprecher, Paul Moore, Rosie Packwood
(Issue 3B) Dan Butcher, Brian Burke
With four issues currently available (the continuity confusing 3a and 3b were released at Thought Bubble 2015) Madius Comics’ Papercuts and Inkstains display a wide and eclectic array of stories, as told by an equally varied group of writers and artists. Each issue contains three or four short stories, told in simple black and white, and covering everything from the supernatural to science-fiction, via surreal humour and blood-curdling horror. Although the quality may vary from story to story, you can’t help but admire the scope of Madius Comics’ intent as they look to cover a wide range in order to pique their readers interest.
Writers Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook are responsible for all the stories in Papercuts and Inkstains and use this as a chance to really show off their writing chops, transitioning between genres and tones seamlessly while creating stories which are both intriguing and even engrossing.
They are supported by a who’s who of rotating artists, ranging from relative unknowns to Madius regulars to UK Indie superstars. Some of our favourites included: Rosie Packwood, whose style is a cross between Chunks and Exit Generation and perfectly matches the dark comedy found in Issue 3’s Slaycation; Rory Donald whose deep monochrome, almost Sin City-like style in Cast Adrift, of issue 2, really helps build that tales chilling, Alien-esque tone and helps draw the reader in; and of course Dan Butcher whose creepily engrossing F.P.S. in Issue 4 really imbues a sense of realism into the story and helps add shock to the twist ending.
As well as this revolving door of talent, there is also Papercuts regular Mike Smith, whose work on the ongoing Profits of Doom (which features in 3 of the 4 issues) has a rough, 2000AD style that gives the whole series a touch of class and continuity from issue to issue and helps bring to life the quirky humour of these incompetent pagans who are struggling in their plan to bring a demon to earth (but only succeed in bickering!)
Inevitably there are some stories which work better than others, and particularly in the early issues you can see Jones & Sambrook and co struggling to find a style and identity that works for them (with the exception of the Profits of course!). However with the double bill of issue 3a and 3b, Madius have proved that Papercuts and Inkstains is a compilation that is more than worthy of being in the cool indie comics club, and one which will help to continue the legacy of UK indie anthologies and with it create a new benchmark for every one else to live up to.