Published by Body Parts - Full Colour.
49 pages of story - landscape format.
Coming to Kickstarter 30/7/2019.
About the project from the publisher:
‘Independent comics publisher Body Parts launches a crowdfunder for its first anthology, The Seas, on Kickstarter, today, Tuesday 30th July 2019. Offering new strips by a diverse range of international creators, it features new work by acclaimed artist Gareth Hopkins - and the first new comics work by acclaimed illustrator Ian Miller since 1994.
Exploring the theme of the experience of being an individual drop in the sea of humanity, The Seas offers strips that range from the beautiful cartooning of Motobus and Zeno to fully abstract work by Gareth Hopkins.
Designed and printed to be a beautiful object as much as it is a joy to read, The Seas contains 49 story pages in an A5, landscape format with colour throughout, offering confessional stories through to science fiction. The talented creators featured range from the seasoned to fresh faced, delving into the personal thoughts of twelve humans to open your mind and please your eyes.
“Many seek the solution to isolationism and bigotry with big answers,” says The Seas editor, Iestyn Pettigrew, a maker of zines often focusing on mental health or illustration. “The Seas quietly makes the point that being different makes things exciting for us all.”
“Each creator was asked to express something of their self to the world; maybe an interest, maybe their spirit or maybe just a little memory of being by The Seas. Everyone delivered something personal so that, for just a moment, you can see and feel as if you were someone else,” Iestyn continues. “From the simple pleasures of a trip, to the dark moments of barely controlled rage, all life is dealt with in this anthology of brand-new work.”
Publisher Body Parts is committed to the principle of giving as much back to the contributors as possible. Along with every penny of profit being split evenly by page contributed to The Seas, each tier has a matching option to pay an additional amount to go straight to the creators.’
The Review - I got sent this a few days by it’s editor Iestyn Pettgirew. It’s a big project and one that I’ve heard has been planned for a while. It came to me coincidentally after one of my regular rants about the lack of originality in comics/sequential art/graphics novels/zines (choose your medicine). I have high hopes for this one...... in I go.
The cover tells of deep and dark blues with countryside/seaweed greens floating upon it’s surface like oils dropped upon each other and floating upon a still pool. It works well and leads logically into the contents in art, vibe and palettes. On a shelf it wouldn’t be an immediate reach out for but doesn’t need to be that style of promotional eye-grabber. It has a lovely stillness and dignity to the landscape image. A tranquil piece that I personally find appealing.
From the introduction this then feels searingly personal. It speaks to the moments when we are alone and with nothing but that inner voice. It does so with chest-bearing honesty that is both a light shock and a refreshing approach.
I spoke to the editor whilst writing this review about the choice to name the creators with their online usernames only. This added some mystery that I’m still mulling over (it’ll make for the odd reviewer headache I’m sure). Some creators chose this approach and Iestyn decided to just go with it. What do you think about that approach? I can’t decide.....
What follows are a series of short anthology stories that I have to admit to being impressed with them in the most part. Rather than describe them all in this pre-Kickstarter review I thought I’d just mention a couple of ones that stood out to me as a reader.
Miranda Smart (found on Instagram @mir.and.or ) has created a short and wordless story about essential interaction, communication and the relationships with those close to us geographically but who are different in many ways. But rather than the obvious path this one makes use of aquatic plants and their growth and sprouting of vines and flowers. It’s a hard one to describe and needs to be seen. This has a clever narrative that shows you exactly what it needs to whist on a gorgeous blue/green/pink/purple underwater colour scheme. Upon closer examination I’d question the almost exact duplication of pages one and two in the story but it has subtle changes that I forgive due to where it keeps on walking towards narratively.
Gareth Hopkins makes a welcome appearance in this anthology (he can be found at http://www.grthink.com/ or @grthink on Twitter). This is again a stylistic change from what I have seen from him recently. It remains in the abstract but seems more controlled in the panel shapes and control/wrestling of the swirling images. Overlayed is a narration that feels like an inner monologue on top of the tiles at an ancient Roman bathhouse. But then suddenly you feel his joy as he pushes you off the path with quotes like;
‘The charity book sale at the Epping branch of Tescos.....’
Are we looking at a psychological book planting conspiracy or just an insight into the occasionally paranoid thoughts of the creator? This story feels more anecdotally everyday than the emotion on show in Petrichor for example. It is full of asides and observations. It feels like the creator is having fun and I’m always a fan of Gareth’s work.
Catherine Motobus (who can be found at @motobus_draws on Instagram) is a new creator to me. If I was honest I’d say that her story seems a little bit out of place here. It is a story of a visit to the beach and the packed lunch the character takes. It is competently drawn with nice use of blues over the inked line but feels a little slight compared to the visual rush of the other stories. A moment of solitude on a beach with others playing in the sun and sand around you seems a tiny bit too on the nose. It does however provide a moment that takes you out of your expectations, something maybe you’re unprepared for in this anthology. As a fifty year old man I found it a little obvious and unoriginal but your interests may vary. After all it’s rare that an anthology has every story to your own personal taste.
Vacuum Books (aka @vacuumbooks on Instagram) produce something inkily black and mysterious. The comics equivalent of seeing faces and dreams in clouds or in the froth of the waves crashing on the beach. It alternates briefly between the heavily worked page to the minimalistic sketch and is definitely one of my highlights in the book. They seem to be an outfit worth searching out. To say more would be to ruin the impact of the art.
One small issue for me in ‘The Seas’ would be the current trend in not crediting creators (even just by their online usernames in this case) until the end of the comic. I had to keep scrolling backwards and forwards to see who was who. Something on the preceding page to the individual story or if suitable on the first page itself always makes for a smoother reading experience, especially as a reviewer. It’s a smal matter.
This is a solid collection with some real standouts. I’ve only read the digital copy but am looking forward to seeing the physical product.
Well worth your attention.
You can find the Kickstarter here when it goes live on Tuesday the 30th of July https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iestynpettigrew/371465053?ref=4f8hgs&token=f45ce0d4 or follow the progress of the book here at https://theseasanthology.wordpress.com
Many thanks for reading.