Anyone who’s visited one of the many comic-cons held across Britain in recent years will know that there’s a hell of a lot of independent comic book creators on the scene, and so it’s difficult for readers to know where to start. The second volume of British Showcase Anthology, from publisher Markosia and editor Adam Cheal, aims to help out with this problem by sampling the works of many such creators.
There are twelve strips of around six pages each, all from different writers and artists. What immediately stands out is the sheer variety on offer, in terms of both stories told and art styles. There’s Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy, a Western, a couple of interesting takes on the superhero genre, and a few more surprises. Plus, the volume is careful to put bios of every creator in front of their strip, so that the reader can seek out more work from those behind their favourites.
As with any collection, there are inevitably a couple of stories that don’t match the quality of the others, with the occasional obvious twist, some clunky dialogue, and one or two artists with clearly less well developed styles. However, as the purpose of the book is to celebrate and promote indie creators, we’d like to spend the rest of this review highlighting the ones we liked most.
Red Apple, from award-winning illustrator Simo, is a quirky tale of an elderly scavenger searching for his identity, with a sad twist but a happier ending. It’s remarkable for Simo’s distinctive and evocative art style, also seen on the cover of the volume.
The Heathen Masses, from writer Chris Tresson, artist Paul Moore, colourist Adam Brown and letterer Rob Jones, follows a young guy who joins up to the goat-worshipping Cult of Azazel, after hearing about them on the Internet. It’s a horror comedy with witty dialogue and a wicked twist.
And (Secret) Identity, from writer Chris Sides, artist Kier Gill, colourist Aljoša Tomić and letterer Ken Reynolds, is a twisted take on the superhero genre, with the Superman-esque figure not as heroic as he first seems. The art wouldn’t look out of place in a Marvel publication, and the story feels like it could easily be expanded into a full series.
And that’s a common feeling with many of the strips in this anthology – they’re a teaser for these creators’ work, and there’s so much more from them to be enjoyed. We’ve singled out these three stories but could easily praise many more – sure, there are a couple of weak links, but the very high overall quality of British Showcase Anthology – Volume 2 proves there’s a lot of talent in the indie comics scene.
BRITISH SHOWCASE ANTHOLOGY – VOLUME 2 / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: MARKOSIA / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 7TH