Publisher: Baguette Noir Press
Writer(s): Alex Giles, Stephen Browne, Alex Mogul
Artist(s): Dylan Gray, Scott Beveridge, Stephen Browne
Release Date: 21st November 2016
Silver City Comics are a group of fledgling comic creators based in Aberdeen, Scotland, and as part of their learning and creative process they frequently work together to publish an anthology of their work. The second volume of this anthology just went on sale, and features three stories based around a single word: “Future”. It was left up to the individual creators how best to interpret this theme, and the results run the gamut from science fiction to futuristic mythology, with decidedly varied results.
The first story, “Collateral Damage” by Alex Giles and Dylan Gray, utilizes a post-apocalyptic version of the “Future” as an increase in the popularity of robots and androids leads to a global unemployment crisis, a rising hatred toward machines, and, ultimately, all-out war. Unfortunately, the strip is marred by an abundance of typos, with erroneous words (“they” instead of “the”, “too” instead of “to”, etc.), erratic punctuation and one unintentionally amusing moment where an acronym (H.A.M.) is misspelled (as H.I.M.), meaning the subsequent explanation of it (High-Frequency Aerial Machine) makes absolutely no sense. Gray’s artwork is also a little inconsistent at times, to say the least. Yes, you can get the general idea of what’s going on, but the anatomy and draughtsmanship on display is more than a little confusing, with weirdly disjointed aeroplanes and seemingly dislocated limbs aplenty. Giles does a solid job with the narrative, and manages to include a pleasing sting in the tale right at the end, but ultimately the lack of proofing makes his story increasingly difficult to follow, resulting in a disjointed, frustrating read.
“Sid and the Mythos” by Stephen Browne and Scott Beveridge takes a slightly ambiguous approach to the word “Future”, with a boy and his grandfather engaging in a little bout of monster hunting. It’s not explained particularly well exactly why they’re doing this, nor is there anything particularly futuristic about the setting or story, but hey, at least the typos are gone, even if the erratic punctuation isn’t. Thankfully, I’m already a fan of Beveridge’s artwork from his turn on Baguette Noir’s Maidenstone, and while his work here is a little heavy-handed in places, it still works well to provide the scratchy, chaotic aesthetic that Browne’s story deserves. Unfortunately, the story itself is fairly confusing at times, with some stilted dialogue and an ending which feels, to be blunt, like Browne simply ran out of pages midway through his story. A definite step up from the first strip though, but only really by virtue of Beveridge’s joyously chaotic artwork.
The final story, Station 41 by Alex Mogul and Stephen Browne, sees a breakdown in communication at an alien customs checkpoint lead to a frenzied chase with a terrified extra-terrestrial taking an unintentionally fast-paced tour of the space station he calls home. It’s definitely the strongest of the three in terms of the writing, with a simply idea executed smoothly and a humorous punchline delivered well in the final panel. The artwork from Browne is solid, even if its intentionally frantic nature can occasionally be a little disorientating. It’s also a great showcase for some inventive character design though, and while there’s a definite roughness to some of the pages, this isn’t really a story which depends too much on technical excellence or intricate detail.
Overall then, it’s difficult to really rate Silver City Anthology as a finished product as it’s clearly part of a learning process for all involved. Some semblance of rough edges to the storytelling and artwork is probably to be expected from a project like this, but the spelling and punctuation errors which litter the collection are a lot harder to forgive. There are some real sparks of potential here, though; Alex Mogul has some great ideas, as would Alex Giles if he could only tidy up the delivery a little, and Scott Beveridge remains a definite “one to watch”. However, while I can certainly applaud the creative effort that resulted in this collection, the roughness of the delivery and the frequent, unforgivable basic errors make it difficult for me to recommend actually going out and buying a copy.
You can find this title, as well as the rest of Baguette Noir’s output, at their Comichaus.com Page.