I think an interesting re-emergence in more mainstream (and I use this term based on my availability in stores regionally), monthly comics at the LCS is the anthology comic. Notable anthologies include the now two-year old re-vamp of Dark Horse Presents, which had an incredibly strong start out of the gate, spinning out wonderful mini-series like Alabaster: Wolves, The Creep, and Resident Alien, and Womanthology, the kickstarter en route to IDW Comics release that has become a showcase for women in comics to flex their muscle for a wider audience on a regular basis. UK publisher Titan Comics throws a hat in the ring with a new anthology this week in print (a digital copy came out a little over a week ago), to keep alive the interest in the short form with A1. Rather than be overly aggressive with a lot of content at a larger price, A1 showcases three shorts for a $3.99 price line. So is it worth it?
There is some interest here, and in all fairness, what caught my attention the most was the story and artwork of the middle story, Carpe Diem, as it took the most chances with the most left of center premise. That is not to say the two penned offerings of Dave Elliott aren’t worth a look, they just fell short of the silly, insane, nonsensical path that Carpe Diem has in spades. Yes, The Weirding Willows has a wonderful literary allusion pedigree (ala The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and Odyssey is shaping up as a supernatural homage to Captain America. It is Carpe Diem, written by W.H. Rauf, that makes me feel comfortable due to it is exactly what I want at the end of a long day or when I am feeling like I just want to relax with something…insane. With Carpe Diem, a twist on the action/superspy/mercenary team up story, the creators have a great meeting of tone (silly) and presentation (outrageous).
The art of Carpe Diem comes from the hand of Rhoald Marcellius. The style on display is comparable to Rob Guillory’s work on Chew, a title from Image Comics that has also proved to be a variation on the team up book with rather wonderful twists and turns of the outrageous. The colors of Sakti Yuwono compliment the layouts of Marcellius splendidly, notably in the form of green and blue, with green having different intensities, from a savage green (and this is a visual pun, trust me), to a comforting more subdued pea-green. Marcellius maximizes the limited space to his advantage, playing with how to best use panel layout on a single page to move the action forward and give the reader a sense of movement, rather than just laying talking heads and static positioning. This team seems to understand that if you are going to use short form, be dynamic and take some chances.
A1 has some mojo working for it. I hope that a rotation will begin if the series gets some legs past the three initial stories that will roll for I will assume the first six issues. The goal of A1 is in my opinion more about escape with things that are familiar (e.g. stories from childhood, comic properties/style that are recognizable for an international market), and that is not a bad goal to have. I am optimistic, as with the start of most things in life, that A1 will continue to look for improvement and hopefully play a bit more to demonstrate how short from comics can be worth a look.