Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Scripts: Declan Montgomery, Matt Crehan, Jon Slater & Mike West Art: Declan Montgomery, Daryl Gillham, Jon Slater, Mike West & Benjamin Filby Publisher: Cog Life Comics
Because this is an anthology of short stories, and not the trade paperback length I typically review, this review won't be as detailed as larger volumes.
WHAT IS IT?
Five "flash fiction"-length stories within a 31-page issue. The stories are center around the theme of survival, often around a single "survivor." Thus, the title of the anthology.
3 of the 5 stories are horror, 1 takes place in a dystopia and 1 is there for comic relief. The stories feel like much briefer versions of classic "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?" episodes.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
As mentioned above, the theme of these stories is survival, and most of these stories center around the question originally asked by an album title of a themed album by Murder By Death: Who will survive, and what will be left of them?
Wight Moon and Night Shift (the 1st & 3rd stories, respectively) were classic bloody horror. Montgomery shows great talent as a cartoonist, doing the writing, art & lettering for Wight Moon. West is also promising, possessing great timing, like the musician he is. He knows when silence works harder than action -- something you don't always get with writers.
New Marathon is our second story, written by Matt Crehan. While it doesn't necessarily match the spooky tones of the other stories, it's definitely the most original (and the most niche). Crehan brings his healthy obsession with running to the page with a modernized take on the Greek tale of Pheidippides' run from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of victory over the Persians.
Jon Slater writes & illustrates the 4th story, and it's this one that reminds me the most of Are You Afraid Of The Dark and other movies with that sort of tone. I don't want to give too much away, but I'd love to know what happens after this story ends!
The final story all takes place on a single page, adding some much needed comic relief after all the heavier content. It also helps to have a second story that's not-quite-horror to balance out New Marathon and make it seem more at home.
Because it's an anthology, you get several stories in a single issue
The humor in Follow Up was very welcome, and it was great to see two very different stories from Mike West
Indie comics like these can create at a more abstract level than more major ones, so it’s cool to see the creative difference between the two
The brevity of each story helps each stay on theme (being a survivor) and forces them to trim any fat from their narratives
The art inside varies wildly, but the real stand-out is Daryl Gillham's illustrations in New Marathon (shown below)
Benjamin Filby's art is clear and crisp, and that's perfect for what he needed to accomplish for this final story (it resembles a popular band whose name may have some meaning to the story)
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
As with the other comics reviewed this week, celebrating lesser known comics creators, it’s difficult and unfair to compare this comic to those of established professionals in the industry
Stories like these that only have a few pages to tell an entire tale can be a little simplistic, since they can't rely on volume of exposition and character growth
Crehan tends to lose me with his writing; maybe the panels don't support the narrative enough, or maybe it would help if his writing guided the reader a little more (could just be me)
This comic has no color, if that sort of thing bothers you
The scarier stories are pretty standard ones horror fans may have seen a very similar version of before
Cursing and violence inside, so it's not for kids
WHY SHOULD YOU READ IT?
Anthologies like these are treasure troves of talent and flash fiction content. Plus, the Cog Life Comics guys are good people. I recommend this for folks looking for good indie comics or major comics editors looking for untapped talent.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Art of Running: The Steve Prefontaine Story by Matt Crehan & Sigit Nugroho
The Night Shift by Mike West
Isolation by various creators
If you like the art:
Dilara: Warrior Sorceress by Amy Tipper-Hale & Benjamin Æ Filby
Vengeance, Nevada by B.J. Mendelson & Piotr Czaplarski
Scratcher by John Ward & Juan Romera
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Matt Crehan – Writer
Many of his comics have to do with running, one of his life’s obsessions
Wrote the 2nd story in this anthology, New Marathon
Jon Slater – Writer, Artist & Cover Artist
Inspired by the fantasy of film and video games and the crushing reality of real life
Multitalented: Enjoys both the writing side and the art side of comics
Wrote & illustrated the 4th story, End of the Road, and did the covert art for this comic
Declan Montgomery – Writer, Artist & Letterer
Wrote, illustrated and lettered the 1st story in this anthology, Wight Moon
Multitalented: Because he writes, illustrates and letters, his title should be more of the all-encompassing "Cartoonist"
Inspired by 2,000 AD’s art-style and H.P. Lovecraft
Mike West – Writer & Artist
Multitalented: Is a British Alt-Country musician
Dream Team: Founded Cog Life Comics (this issue’s publisher) with Jon Slater and Declan Montgomery, who also contributed on this title
Wrote the 3rd & 5th story (The Night Shift & Follow Up, respectively)
Daryl Gillham – Illustrator
Did the art for the 2nd story, New Marathon
Outlander: Lives in the United Kingdom
Influenced by Dave McKean
Benjamin Filby – Illustrator
Illustrated the final story in this anthology, Follow Up
Multitalented: Has also written comics, as well as editorial illustration, graphic design & storyboarding for clients
Moniker: Also goes by Benjamin Æ Filby
David Cooper – Colorist
Colored the 3rd story, The Night Shift
Toben Racicot – Letterer
Lettered the 2nd story, New Marathon
Works as a freelance letterer/designer
Rob Jones – Letterer
Lettered the last 3 stories of this anthology (The Night Shift, End of the Road and Follow Up, respectively)
Multitalented: Also writes and does graphic design
Helped start Madius Comics, a publisher
HOW DO I BUY IT?
This anthology will debut at Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival later this month (September, 2018, for any folks reading this from the future).
Keep an eye out for Survivor on the Cog Life Comics website and the Comichaus website and app at the end of this month!
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