Writer: Richy K. Chandler
Artist(s): Matt Boyer, Francesca Cassavetti, Martin Elden, Tim Hassan, Steve Horry, Inko, Chie Kutsuwada, Mike Medaglia, Aaron Murphy, Van Nim, Karen Rubins, Paul Shinn, Keara Stewart
Release Date: 15th November 2014 (Thought Bubble)
Tempo Lush Tales is an anthology-style collection of no less than eleven stories from the pen of Richy K. Chandler, ably assisted by a wide assortment of artistic talent. While most anthologies I’ve read recently tend to adhere to a loose thematic style, this collection is probably one of the most diverse I think I’ve ever seen, and – in my opinion – is all the better for it. The artists all differ wildly in both style and approach, ranging from abstract ‘sketches’ to dynamic manga, with the result being that you’re never quite sure what’s going to be waiting for you when you turn the page.
As with pretty much every anthology ever created, the quality varies somewhat from strip to strip, but there are a few genuine standouts here. The first story in the collection, the brilliantly titled “Smoky Digital Seahorse”, is one of those standouts. Taking what could very easily becoming a convoluted tale of time travel and basing it around a young girl’s relationship with her father, Chandler manages to keep everything running smoothly even as we find ourselves hopping back and forth between the past and the present at a rapidly increasing pace. Credit should also be given to the smooth artwork of Steve Horry here, who keeps everything neat and tidy with his measured, detailed style, and who utilises subtle visual ‘ticks’ to differentiate between the different time zones. An attention grabbing opening chapter for sure, and one which sets the standard for the rest of the book.
Another tale which sets itself apart from the rest of the pack is “In The Bedroom”, featuring artwork by Francesca Cassavetti. Adopting a somewhat irreverent (to say the least) take on the Toy Story-esque ‘toys coming to life when their owners aren’t looking’ trope, this is undoubtedly the funniest of the strips, and contains some utterly fantastic moments as human Sandra unwittingly discovers what her cuddly toys are really up to when her back is turned. Cassavetti’s artwork has perhaps a little less detail than some of the other strips, but is still extremely expressive and fits the offbeat tone of the story perfectly. Definitely a tale that will linger in your memory long after you’ve put the book down, for more reasons than one.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the most impressive aspects of Tempo Lush Tales is the sheer diversity of stories on display, and it if weren’t for the single solitary writing credit at the front of the book, you’d be forgiven for not realising that each of these different tales are written by the same person. Chandler clearly has a strong grasp of all-ages storytelling, as can be seen from his ‘Lucy the Octopus’ and ‘Bang! Crash! Whizz!’ strips (reviews coming soon, folks!), but he also displays some seriously multi-faceted writing chops here as he bounces effortlessly from genre to genre.
Yes, there’s the occasional stumble along the way – the occasional concept that doesn’t reach its full potential and the odd joke that doesn’t quite land – but for the most part, Tempo Lush Tales serves as an ambitious creative project, as well as a solid portfolio of one man’s undoubtedly impressive writing abilities. And whether it’s humorous sci-fi awesomeness, anthropomorphic political shenanigans, or a surprisingly poignant take on ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’, I can all but guarantee that there’s going to be something contained within these pages that will appeal to pretty much every comic fan out there. A terrific collaboration, and a title that’s well worth a look.
If you’re at Thought Bubble this year, you can grab yourself a copy of Tempo Lush Tales from Richy in the New Dock Hall, priced just £7. You can also order yourself a copy – along with all of Tempo Lush’s other titles – from their Esty Store.