The world of indie anthologies seems to be a fairly divisive thing for the wider comic audience with a short peak at a story not always being seen as value for money but Comichaus are aiming to change that with their latest release which just hit its third issue.
It’s an ambitious task they’ve set themselves with a commitment to an almost monthly release for their collection of stories and it’s one that got the backing in a very successful Kickstarter (which I backed myself). The team have produced an anthology which serialises a mix of sci-fi, horror, mystery & western and throws in a couple of one-shots for good measure so it’s got as broad an appeal as possible.
Karyn Shade – written by James McCulloch with art by Jessica Byrne
Unfolding across the three issues so far this story of a chance discovery following a car breakdown hints at an a-typical horror story to begin with but that’s turned on its head as more and more is revealed. Karyn Shade herself is a smoking, swearing, kick-ass ask questions later kinda girl and that actually works out as she seems to use an almost Ninja-like poise to take on a cult….and all while she’s just trying to fix her damn car. Typically brutal stuff from James but it’s executed well and the artwork from Jessica is stunning and feels like it’s an adaptation of an animation.
Feather – written by Dave Cook with art by Norrie Millar
Bird flu hitting a small town seems to be a fairly innocent beginning for this story by Dave and he gradually reveals how serious the situation is but not before building up a strong set of characters in small town America. The complications of family life and the daily grind of working as a cop sees Doug Swain caught in the middle of every element of that but things are worse than he’s willing to reveal. Norrie’s art is hectic and atmospheric and helps build the panic that an outbreak would no doubt generate so we’ve got story & art working well together on this one.
Suited and Booted – written by Jon Laight with art by Dan Butcher
Jon’s Sci-fi tale of off-world colonies and dealing with the aftermath of a world flipped upside down following an Alien invasion which abruptly ended after 25 years – only for Human overlords to step in and rule with methods just as brutal as their predecessors. This one feels like it’s got a lot of narrative to it to begin with which tests the artist & letterer Dan but it settles down and begins to flow much better as it progresses and ends up being an energetic & involving race for redemption & survival.
The Troubleshooters – written by Aaron Walther with art by Ed Bickford
A wild west/sci-fi mashup of ideas that ends up playing out like a screwed up mix of Mad Max meets A Fistful of Dollars as our two central characters get caught in the middle of a turf war in the barren wastelands of the desert. Great mix of ideas from Aaron on this one as Ed manages to bring out the bleak surroundings well and add a real sense risk with things on the brink of annihilation. Plus it’s got Lizard-men giving us a moody madness to the whole situation.
Mortality – written & drawn by Luke Cooper
Luke opens this with a car crash as father & daughter come face to face with the other side but while it may seem like a simple “step into the light” moment for most, it’s much darker in this instance. Typically sinister edges to Lulke’s creations as we’ve seen from him before but this does feel like he’s firing on all cylinders and it’s a perfect example of how good a story can be when writing & art are coming from the one person….complete creative synchrnization.
Mum and Dad – written by Tom Ward with art by Iain Laurie & lettering by Colin Bell
The first of the one-shots (in issue #1) is probably the darkest thing I’ve read from Tom and while I’d like to say it has a bittersweet end to it….that doesn’t do it justice. It’s bleak, it’s brutal but the sense of disbelief and “WTF?” as you snigger at the last panel is harsh reminder of just how sick you can be as a reader. I’ve fallen in love with the unique talent Iain has for bring evil into his artwork and this one is no exception and while it may be a shorter story than what we’ve come to expect from them both it’s still a powerful slap in the face in more ways than one.
Keyhole – written by Chris Welsh with art & lettering by David Pavol
The second one-shot (in issue #2) is another dark affair and while it has an innocent premise of a child spying on his Mum & Dad and getting to see them react individually and together it takes the normal aspects of life and blends them up in a fairly messed up way. Slick artwork from David sees the majority depicted purely from the perspective of the keyhole that’s being used to spy on them but it’s another dark twist in the tale for this one as it descends into the grotesque reveal.
Chalk – written & inked by Steven Horry with pencils by Catia Fantini & lettering by Colin Bell
This serialised story kicks off in the third issue and it’s a curious tale from Steven that seems to start off like a hybrid of Beauty & The Beast meets Saga and then it throws in some seemingly random suicides to mess with our heads. It felt a little too short in comparison to some of the others but that may be because it’s the newest story to the mix – although it may well be more because it’s one of the most stunning sets of art we’ve seen in the Comichaus stories so far. Roll on issue #4.
The Return – written & drawn by James Calderbank with lettering by Nikki Foxrobot
James brings us a curious look at an alternate set of Apollo missions and what the consequences of those could have been as a cover-up and the ongoing quest to reach the moon are all very real. Great art which almost feels like it has the crackle of a black & white TV as you read it – great stuff.
While antholgies can split the comic reading masses at times it’s refreshing to see ComicHaus buck that trend and while pulling together a who’s who from the small press scene. What we end up with is a series with the best writers/artists/letterers/colourists distilled into a group that are just keen to tell good stories and with the backing of a team that are willing to pull that together and pay fairly across the board. I can’t see how that can be anything other than a win for all involved and it’s an instant justification for backing something like this in Kickstarter….at least for me. That being said the shorter feeling to some of the stories will frustrate some but if they can look beyond that and buy into the vision ComicHaus have for the compelte series then the rewards for the reader are there to be seen….with more rewards to come. Stunning series to get hooked on!!