Writer: Sam Read
Artist(s): Donal Delay, Garry Mac, Elias Martins, Paul McAllan
Lettering: Colin Bell, Robin Jones, Ryan Ferrier
Cover Art: Ruairi Coleman
Release Date: 14th November, 2015 (Thought Bubble Festival)
Hey, remember back in September when we exclusively revealed Cornucopia, a four-page comic from writer Sam Read and artist Paul McCallan? Of course you do. Well, as it turns out, Cornucopia was merely the tip of the iceberg, as Sam has just announced that he’ll be releasing a printed version of the story – along with three more short stories he has written over the last couple of years – at this weekend’s Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds. The collection, fittingly named Shorts, sees Read turning his pen to four distinct genres, and features a variety of top-flight artistic talent collaborating with him to help bring his words to life.
The first story, Welcome Wagon, features artwork from Donal Delay and lettering from Colin Bell, and tells the troubled story of Rigo, an Italian immigrant in the mid-1940’s. Delay uses a slightly caricaturised approach to his impressive black and white visuals, particularly with Rigo himself, and Read employs a creative narrative tweak in order to give the main character’s plight additional emphasis. A great start, and an intriguing story, albeit one with a somewhat bleak tone.
The Answer To Question M, drawn and coloured by Garry Mac, is a science fiction thriller in the Twilight Zone vein, with an eyebrow raising premise and a sting in the tail. Perhaps the most engaging of the four stories, it commands the longest page count (eight), yet somehow manages to feel like a complete opening issue of a brand new series. Mac’s fine linework is on full display here, and while there are occasional moments of unevenness that don’t quite measure up to his stellar work on the likes of Gonzo Cosmic or Freak Out Squares, he still manages to rise to the occasion when it counts, providing some chilling visual beats along the way.
Up next we have Firekeeper, a captivating little dose of Wild West Horror featuring artwork from Elias Martins and lettering from Madius Comics’ Rob Jones. Easily the most polished of the four stories, from a visual aspect if nothing else, it unfolds almost like a Native American campfire story, with a firm moral delivered in the final page. Martins does a stellar job with the artwork here, packing in a tremendous amount of detail into his panels and fully embracing the more supernatural aspects of the story.
And finally, we have Cornucopia itself, which you can read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE, and sees Read and McCallan combine to deliver a environmental message in a quasi-biographical style. My only real criticism of this particular short would be the colours, which can occasionally feel a little dense and overpowering in places.
Overall however, Shorts is an enjoyable collection of four intriguing premises, each utterly distinctive from one another. What’s doubly impressive to me as a reader is the fact that, while each of these four stories are structured in such a way that they can stand on their own, they could also serves as opening chapters – or pitches – for brand new ongoing titles. I found myself wanting to know more about Rigo’s story, not to mention what happens next with the ‘Gravity Mirror’, and I’d absolutely love the possibility of returning to the Western world of Firekeeper for more supernatural-tinged campfire wisdom.
Each of the four stories here feature impressive hooks, and while some are undoubtedly more fleshed-out than others, they all serve as an impressive showcase for the chameleon-like writing abilities of Read. So, while it isn’t quite up there with FIND or Exit Generation, Shorts is still well worth a look.
Shorts will be available at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds on November 14th and 15th.