I miss the radio. I commute by train, so jamming to tunes in the car just isn’t as much part of my daily routine as it used to be. The trouble with only listening to the same music on your iPod is not having ways to expose yourself to new or different music easily (though as much as I despise Spotify’s business model and their lack of compensation to artists, I have recently found it to be useful in exposing myself to new artists). There’s a lot of the same issue in comics, as well. As much as I love Batman and The Goon, there’s a model to it: stories that follow individual characters, usually with some exaggerated features or abilities. What’s harder to come by, though, and what there’s quite a good deal more of is the experimental stuff - the work that can broaden your horizons as to what this medium can accomplish. The play between script and art can also be engaging if it’s antagonistic rather than complementary, as we’re used to. Light and darkness of color can become forces all their own on the page. That’s what I’ve been enjoying about Sliced Quarterly; it’s work that I’d not be exposed to otherwise. It has artists that are playing well outside the cut-and-paste Big Two sandbox with things that are more personal and not aimed at mass consumption. This is the beauty of what Ken Reynolds has assembled. He’s not bringing us epic battles leaving us on the edge of our seat; it’s the stuff that artists are trying out that can take your breath away.
I’m not going to break down each piece here, but I’m going to touch on the few that really spoke to me. I have to start with the cover, because I found it arresting. The imagery of the rope coupled with the title is evocative, and the whole image reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from a show called Slings & Arrows: “We’re hanging by a thread!” “Yes, but the most interesting stuff happens just before the thread snaps.” The dotted style reminds me of older newspaper strips, and the colors imbue it with a sense of a Red/Blue 3D imagery without glasses, giving me a sense that if only I had the right tool of perspective, then everything would come well into focus. It’s powerful and stands as a fantastic intro to the issue. There’s more poetry than prose this time round, and both "Killing Action Man" and "Without You" were incredibly evocative and moving for me; the first for taking me back to childhood and the places where imagination lived, the second for it’s all-too-poignant impact. It’s likely that you may have different favorites, because the journeys here are much more personal than you may be used to in the broader comic fare.
I know that this review is in much more broad strokes than my usual entry, but it’s because there’s such a wide variety of talent on display here, and I think that the collection stands pretty well on its own. There’s less for me to pull apart, because this work is more intimate and feels more open to style interpretation than what I typically break down for you.
I think that anyone who enjoys comics, regardless of genre, should check this anthology out. It’s a cool place to not only see newer creators but also to see some established names playing in ways that the commercial marketplace doesn’t allow. Some of it fails, most of it succeeds, but it’s all part of the wonderful tapestry that builds this medium for us all. It’s a more stark look into the minds that bring us such joy and wondrous journeys, and it’s one well worth enjoying.
You can find Sliced Quarterly free online.
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