Monday, August 27, 2012


Ah, the staple of Artists Alley: the anthology book. However, most are usually horror books. This one is SF, and despite the silly space octopus cover, it’s got a lot of good material in it, even though it’s presented in an odd fashion. Usually with anthology books, you get three to four stories all told back to back. Here we have part one of a story, then story two, then part two of story one, then story three, then part three of story one, and lastly story four. But the material is so good, it doesn’t even jar your senses.

The first story is a complete mind-fuck of a tale called “The Traveling Man,” written and illustrated by Matt Collander. In fact, it’s kind of hard to say what it’s about, exactly. Alan has come loose in time and space, and it would appear that he’s being kept in a mental asylum. When he wanders from one room to another, he finds himself in a room full of people who seem to be plugged into the ceiling through a series of tubes, but when they try to jack him in, he flees to find himself back home with a loving wife and children whose names he doesn’t remember. Once again, he wanders through another door and this time finds himself face to face with himself. A few of himselfs, actually. Here, he reveals to himself that the more you travel through time and space, the more you fall apart. The less you actually exist. And in yet another world, he finds that he has become a delicacy to humans. He meets aliens and bacteria and disembodied parts of himself and HOLY SHIT! There’s no way to get your head around a piece of art this ingenious. It’s a shame that the illustrations are a little bit too simplistic for the subject matter.

The second story, “Safe House,” suffers from the same problem because it’s also illustrated by Collander. It is written by David Canario, who has a masterful ability with dialogue. It’s about a couple of space farmers shooting the shit over coffee in a diner. Sadly, while the speech is pretty snappy and realistic, it doesn’t really lead to much of a story. It’s a slice of life at best.

The third story, “Adventurenaut,” is the only real stinker in the book. Written by Danario and illustrated by someone simply known as Crow, it is a throwback to pulp SF, where the hero was usually a peaceful kind of scientist who had no problem with two-fisted battles and ray guns. This is no deviation from the norm and it offers nothing new. Captain Percival Edwards arrives on an alien planet to study their life, but instead he gets stuck between two warring factions and has to exercise a little violence before the end of the tale. Unlike the others, though, this one sports a to-be-continued at the end. It’s a shame because it’s the weakest story, and the artwork is so childish it could have been done by a middle-schooler.

Lastly, we have “Another Day Older,” written by Danario and illustrated by Jason Swearingen. In the future, there is a treatment people use to stop growing old. They are forever young, but the problem is, it sterilizes them. One day, Alec Dixon is getting his hair cut when the stylist notices that he’s got a gray hair . . . . Now, midget secret agents are after him, and his only hope might be a church that has outlawed the use of the ageless vaccination. It’s really a brilliant story, a bit reminiscent of LOGAN’S RUN, and by far, it has the best artwork of the book. It’s complex, and while it doesn’t quite look real, it looks as close as it can get. Swearingen is an artist to look out for. He’s good right now; one day, he might be great.

All in all, this book is completely worth your money. If you find these guys at a convention anytime soon, make sure to pick this one up.

Written and illustrated by various people
Published by Dread Arts Co.
36 pages

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