Our latest round up of the best small press comics couldn’t be more diverse. From a lighthearted alien adventure in Alien Agency, to a dry humoured ant family in Ant Story and the gothic mystery romance in My Love Does Not Deserve Me, we can’t wait to dive in!
Alien Agency by Cath and Sarah Garvey follows protagonist Fran, a young girl on a school trip. Whilst everyone is happy to look at the geographical elements intended for this trip, including mountains and nature, Fran only has one thing on her mind – ALIENS! When the school bus breaks down in Death Alley, Nevada, Fran is determined to find Area 51, and goes off alone to complete her mission (closely followed by her classmate Dakota). But when a real alien spaceship hits her in the face, the trip may end up being more eventful than she originally thought!
This 29-page comic was full of fun twists and turns, including a disguised alien (you’ll have to read to find out who!). The art style was very cutesy and cartoon like, which reminded us of Sarah Grayley’s stunning graphic novels, Pizza Witch and Donut the Destroyer. The colours were vibrant and bright, and the backgrounds, particularly those of the stars in the night sky, really stood out. Our only issue with this one was that it wasn’t longer, but we’re excited to see what’s next in this ongoing comic series.
Ant Story by King Louie’s Lab immediately caught our eye, with two sweet ants on the cover holding father and son mugs! This one is a fair bit longer and follows the daily life of Ant Dad and his son Rory. As far as we can tell, this is a compendium of individual comic panels that King Louie posts on his Instagram, which is very cool!
While I thought I was in for a cutesy, feel-good story, the first page actually made me laugh out loud with its savage humour! Each page features a different panel about the day-to-day lives of Ant Dad and his son, with a clever punchline at the end (often at Rory’s expense!). Gag comics aren’t always our favourite, but this one’s dry humour makes it laugh out loud funny. The comic even includes seasonal events like Christmas and Halloween, and current events like COVID and isolation.
Accompanying the words is the simplistic stick-figure type drawings of the ants, which actually compliments the slap-stick humour really well. It seems utterly bizarre to see these cutesy ants looking stern, angry or dead pan, and makes every joke that much funnier. The jokes themselves are very reminiscent of ‘your mum’ jokes (the absolute HEIGHT of British playground humour). One of our favourites included the neighbour’s son being given a bottle of milk so that he’ll stop ‘milking his birthday’. I think this one is perfect for reading in a couple of sittings – just flicking through a few of the panels at a time is bound to make you crack up.
My Love Does Not Deserve Me
A big change in tone from our other two, good humoured small press comics, was My Love Does Not Deserve Me by Claire Napier, Ten Van Winkle and Anastasia Longoria. With a strange picture of a statue with a bee resting on it on the front, we knew this one was going to be a bit different. This is a gothic short comic following protagonist Mary, who feels she is not good enough for her husband-to-be. Though she tries her best to be good and pure, there is ‘a devil inside [her] that screams to get out’ that she is unable to repress.
When her lover Fredrick calls for her, she can’t help but run into his arms, despite knowing that it’s for the best that she stays away from him. In the garden maze at dusk, Fredrick challenges Mary to ‘catch him’, and live full of passion and freedom, outside of the arranged dates their parents put together for them. While Fredrick intends to seduce Mary before marriage, in the background, Mary’s shadow is lurking, and seems to be transforming into something else entirely…and this isn’t the only surprise to come in this tale of twisted romance.
The art style in this was stunning, with gothic shades of black and dark blue setting the unsettling scene at night, and the Victorian/aristocratic clothes the characters wear capture the intended era perfectly. I’m a sucker for anything gothic, especially when it has twists and turns, so this was such a fun read, really reminiscent of Emily Carroll’s dark graphic novels. We also loved the pages about the inspiration behind the book at the back – we really get a feel for how carefully crafted this short comic was, and all the details that went into creating it!