Joint Review – Thought Bubble Anthology 2015 (Image Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer(s): VARIOUS
Artist(s): VARIOUS
Release Date: 11th November, 2015

As you should know by now, every year the Thought Bubble Festival releases an Anthology book featuring artwork and stories from some of the creators involved in the event,  published by Image Comics.

To make it even better, all profits from the sale of the comic go to Barnardo’s, one of the largest children’s charities in the UK.

To break things down, and to ensure that nobody gets glossed over or forgotten, we’ve enlisted both Chris and Ceej to unite and take a look at the offerings in this year’s anthology.

Here’s what they had to say…

Chris Says…

Catober, by Emi Lenox

Everyone loves cats. This one’s pretty cute, and does cat stuff! I really want this as a poster, as Emi Lennox’s art is beautiful in a pop-art, super colourful way. Definitely has an “if it fits, it sits” kind of vibe to it

Goodnight Kiss, by Tim Sale & Richard Starkings

It’s two industry greats doing a perfect Elephant Men story. Rough linework and inking from Sale, and a masterclass in story letting from Starkings? What’s not to love? If anything, I found myself a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of it.

Rough Map, by Dan Berry

I have a similar clearance I used to like to go to, it’s beautiful and I’m going to keep it all for myself if I can! A nice wee memory churner that took me right back to my happy place. There’s a childish feel to it, which is by no means a bad thing, with dense forests and a stunning skyline, and the colours seem to jump off the page.

Melusine, by James Romberger & Marguerite Van Cook

A stunning prose piece about being half mer-person. No idea what’s going on, but it’s visually stunning and makes me want to go swimming in the ocean.

Nancy Boy, by Rick Remender & Fred Dalrymple

Wow, this was actually really deep! I think. It could still all be about perception and how we view things. Either way, a thought provoking, mind bending story. Think it’s about marching to your own beat.

[NOTE: I’m very aware now that every page I’m commenting on how beautiful it is. However, I can’t help myself, every page really is a damn pleasure to look at, in its own different way. Anyway, apologies if I’m repeating myself as I run out of adjectives to say “looks stunning”.]

Just Let Me Think, by Ray Fawkes

We all have inner demons. Mine tends to prefer coffee. I wish I could remember it’s name as well sometimes, but then what if I get lonely?

Vanity, by Tula Lotay

Am I allowed to want that coat? Does it defeat the point? Regardless, visually stunning and on point, especially the splashes of red giving it a different level of depth. I still want the coat.

Surface Envy, by Julia Scheele

A short story about regaining control and the power of music. Personally I’m at a similar point in my life, and my ‘go-to album’ is Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Dissent. Music has a power over us to help heal and drive us forward, and this story taps into that and tries to give meaning to it all. I really hope Julia gets where she needs to go. Music is Magic.

Bridges, by Emily Rose Lambert

If this story taught me anything it’s that I’ve lost touch with too many people. Playing on the emotional side of not being as close to people as you’d like, it’s a heartwarming tale of two girls on the opposite side of a ravine. I think there’s a few bridges I might need to build. I’ll be right back

Galactic Savings, by Kristyna Baczynski

It’d be quite nice if someone brought us ozone and bumble bees, while destroying most of the things we built to harm everything. A funny PSA style strip, making earth seem like a tourist destination.

Ceej Says…

Jumping in where Chris left off, the second half of the anthology is largely devoted to the winners of last year’s “Thought Bubble Comic Art Competition”, with the 2nd and 3rd place creators in the over-18 category and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place creators in the 12-17 year old category all being given a showcase for their (not inconsiderable) talents.

It also highlights both the pros and cons of the format, with the supremely skilled creators having mixed results with the limited space available. Some flourish, telling a simple story or conveying a simple message in just a few panels while others struggle, trying to pack in too much information into too small a space, resulting in a dense, disorientating read. There’s a lot more good than bad, however, and it bears mentioning that even the cluttered pages aren’t without their merits.

Let’s break down what we have then, shall we?

Man Will Fly, by Richard Worth & Jordan Collver

Providing an impressively poignant perspective on an invulnerable “Superman”-esque character, this feels like a complete, self-contained story of man’s curious relationship with this hero, and features some wonderfully sepia-tinged artwork from Collver.

A Witch In Time, by Izzi Ward (2nd place, over 18s)

Featuring some gorgeously painted artwork and an enigmatic conclusion, this short, wordless story leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination and packs a lot of expression and emotion into its silent characters.

Gauntlet, by Clark Burscough and Lucie Ebrey

This humorous two-page story sees the world of modern politics intrude into the classic “Dungeons & Dragons” realm with hilarious effect, and features some bold, bright artwork from Ebrey. Sometimes, the quest just isn’t worth the reward.

Adam 2.0, by Nicholas Gurewitch

Gurewitch provides a darkly comic look at the true nature of humanity in his distinctive style. Brilliant, and perhaps my highlight of the whole anthology, if only for its wonderful simplicity.

Trapper, by Aimee Lockwood (3rd place, over 18s)

While it suffers slightly from the aforementioned lack of space, Lockwood manages to weave an impressive story of a young girl and her hunter father, with some eye-pleasing pastel colours and an impressively heartwarming conclusion.

Nice Dream by Shaun Manning & Meredith Moriarty

With crisp, clean artwork and an open-ended conclusion that could either be wonderfully uplifting or horribly heartbreaking, this bright, colourful dream sequence features a tender exchange between a troubled man and the memory of (I’m assuming), his lost love.

Zarmeena, by Eva Holder (1st place, 12-17 year old)

Holder provides an intriguing, multi-cultural look at the world of music and the power of its unique accessibility. I like music too, even though I don’t always ‘get’ it.

Painted Love, by Jack Land (2nd place, 12-17 year old)

Jack takes a simple conceit – paintings falling in love — and executes it with enthusiasm and loud, vibrant colours.

Robert Adams & The Genie, by Jordan Vigay (3rd place, 12-17 year old)

Displaying a Neil Slorance-esque level of charm and simplicity, Vigay takes the well-worn “be careful what you wish for” warning and twists it to wonderfully comic effect.

The Black Prince, by Kate Beaton

The humour is also firmly on display with these three short strips that continue to cement Beaton’s reputation as one of the funniest cartoonists on the planet today, as well as all but guaranteeing that “wicked chivalrous“ becomes a part of my vocabulary for the foreseeable future.

Fossil Waffle, by Kristyna Baczynski

The British Comic Award nominated Baczynski gets a second chance to shine with this quirky, banter-filled exchange featuring some long-deceased creatures. Poor Gary. It’s not his fault.

Jog On, by Rachael Smith

Another British Comic Award nominee, Smith raises an unapologetic middle finger to the condescending trend of “fake geek girl” insults with this the sharply written strip.

Across My Heart, by Sam Read, Abigail Harding and Colin Bell

Rounding out the book, this a beautifully moving double-page comic features some absolutely jaw-dropping visuals from Harding, a heartfelt declaration of love from Read and the trademark slick, unobtrusive letters from Bell. A perfect sign-off for what has been one hell of an anthology.

Overall, this release provides a fantastic showcase for the variety of styles and approaches available to the today’s comic creator, particularly from the younger creators.  Thirty pages of laughter, emotion, fun and intelligence, and a glowing testament to the sheer variety of creative talent on the scene today.

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