Webcomics can be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, they’re undoubtedly a great way for creators to get their work into the public eye, and can serves as a valuable creative outlet. However, at the same time, they can also suffer due to their almost ‘disposable’ nature, with production values sometimes acking when compared to strips intended for print.
Square Eyed Stories is an anthology of webcomics from the winter of 2012, and manages to prove both of these points. On one hand, there is some undeniably brilliant stuff here. Arthur Goodman is a creator I’m becoming more and more familiar with via his work on Experience the Magic of Legend and The Newspaper Strip Collection of Oscar Charles Drayton, and his strips are undoubtedly the highlight of this anthology. His basic, cartoony style is extremely well-polished, and some of his creations here (such as “The Catmonkeys and Fat, Stupid Dad” and “Angry Nerd“) could likely sustain whole issues solely on their own merits.
On the other side of the coin, there’s some definite roughness to be had here. James McGee’s “Banana Brothers”, for instance, I simply didn’t ‘get’. The humour seemed more than a little random, and the artwork was just a little too rough and ‘sketchy’ for my tastes. However, in his defence, one of McGee’s other strips – “Beard Fly” – was actually one of my highlights of the entire anthology.
The strips don’t have anything by way of a unifying theme, style or tone, as you’d likely expect. And with the pronounced difference in both quality and length from strip to strip, Square Eyed Stories can be a bit of an uneven read. However, if you go in with the mindset of viewing the book like a television sketch show – when you know you’re doing to have to sit through a few duds to get to the gold – you’ll be just fine.
Overall, it’s safe to say that anthologies can be a bit of a tough sell – webcomic anthologies in particular – and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this particular book for purchase, I would wholeheartedly recommend bookmarking squareeyedstories.co.uk and keeping up to date with the terrific content they’re putting out on a weekly basis. The talent is undoubtedly there with these guys, but this particular volume probably isn’t the best example of it.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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