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Monday, March 31, 2008

Newsarama review for Sequential Suicide 2008 TPB: Slop...

Writer(s): A heap of ‘em
Artist(s): A mass of ‘em
From: 803 Studios
Review By: Jeff

I’m not a fan of anthologies. I find them to be as aggravatingly similar to buying music on CD: you get one or two tracks of brilliance, and then thirteen more of space-filling caterwauling. They are the epitome of Forrest’s box of chocolates analogy (anthologies, not the CDs) and even though I’ve been burned over and over again, I still pick them up after a quick breeze through. I want to believe not only that it’s possible to put out a quality tome of shorts surrounding a central theme and told from multiple perspectives, but that one can create such a creature that doesn’t require a doctorate in metaphysics or existentialism in order to understand (Flight for example).

That’s how I came to Slop. Created by 803 Studios to showcase writers and artists that the rest of the comic book community would choose to ignore, the premise for this anthology (which I believe is their second outing) is Remus Filch, pig-farmer by day, serial killer of prostitutes by night. Connect the dots and you can quickly suss out how Remus’s blue-ribbon winning sows get their High-Pro glow. Lest you think this is ridiculous (or even derivative of Gerald Grice from Watchmen infamy), allow me to introduce you to Robert Pickton, the Canadian real-life inspiration for Remus who might be responsible for sixty or more murders. Having followed several serial-killer cases and Pickton’s in particular, I had to read this book.

And what a gem it is.

There are fourteen stories here, each one with a different artist and writer team (one is even penned by Newsarama’s own Steven Ekstrom) trying to get into the head of a truly evil and unhinged individual and scratch the surface of what makes him tick so terrifyingly out of time with the world around him. Well, most of them, anyway: Mr. Ekstrom’s “Breakfast” takes a more law-enforcement-centric approach; “In A Pig’s Eye” by Anthony Hightower posits the possibility that the pigs might be aware that they are accessories to the crime; “The Dancer” by Steven Prouse takes a Korean horror movie inflection to examine the results of a Fourth of July pig roast; and “Hunger” by Patrick Tkaczynski is really so far off the reservation that it’s almost into another genre (terrific, I need to state, but an odd inclusion to this book).

Having taken Andy Schmidt’s “Writing For Comics” introductory course (www.ComicsExperience.com) I can appreciate the difficulty in trying to tell a story within the confines of five to eight pages. Surprisingly, the majority of this lot perform admirably, telling tales of creepiness that echo of the good old days from EC and Warren Comics. For sure, “Sacrament” by Travis Legge is the most shuddersome of the lot. The violence and gore is mostly confined off-panel, which I feel is better storytelling and the only time weakness really appears is in some conclusions, when the stories feel as if they have been guillotined into truncation so as to fit the allotted space. I would have liked a few more pages on some of them of the offerings, just as I would have liked a couple more stories told from the law enforcement’s point of view as they hunt and try to catch this psychopath.

Where this anthology really shines, though, is in its artwork. I have never heard of these artists, but why they don’t currently have regular work is as mystifying to me as why the world drinks Coke Zero. Reno Maniquis (team-mate of the aforementioned Mr. Tkaczynski), why aren’t you drawing New Avengers? And Daniele Serra, I’ll take your art over Ben Templesmith’s any day of the week. Making the book in black and white may have been a publishing choice in order to reign in costs, but as a horror book it is imperative. There is such diversity amongst the artists that it’s a smorgasbord of visual delight, much more solid than any anthology I have read in the past several years.

That a book this entertaining hails from a small publisher is impressive. It far outshines similar fare from its bigger peers and has a quality to it that every small publisher should take notes from. For fans of horror, crime, and the odd, this book is certainly a must have.

Woo-hoo! Thanks for the special mention, Newsarama! Now, if only I can get Marvel Comics to look at this book...

Although, I do drink Coke Zero. But I prefer Pepsi Max. :)


Gio Paredes said...

Oo nga naman. Why aren't you drawing New Avengers? Hehehehe.

Kahit pa noon, I already know you have what it takes....

Reno said...

Ewan ko ba sa Marvel. Sino ba yang Leinil Yu na yan? hehehe. (joke lang po!)

cartoon blogger said...

seems interesting.

Reno said...

Thanks, cartoon blogger!

Ner P said...

wow! hanep!