ADVANCE REVIEW! Thought Bubble Anthology #1 will come out on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.
Anthologies are rad. There is no better way to get a taste of diverse and burgeoning talent than reading a collection of stories by different creators. Even better if the anthology with a purpose — not a thematic glue to hold the stories together, I mean a real-life reason for existing. As such, profits from Thought Bubble #1 benefit the Barnardos charity.
Last month the Thought Bubble festival took place in Leeds, England to celebrate comic books, animation and related things and turned out to be a major event for the UK comics scene. Part of the festival is a competition called the Northern Sequential Art Competition (NSAC), which encourages UK comics creators of any age to submit their (incredibly short) stories to promote the creation and proliferation of comics. The winners of 2010 were collected in this very anthology, while this year's winners are expected to show up in an anthology to promote the 2012 festival.
An anthology of comics by people who won a competition isn't exactly of immediate interest to the average reader, I know. The Thought Bubble people understand this, as well, and thus have sweetened the deal with original stories from comics professionals, including a very funny one-pager from Andy Diggle and D'Israeli, a "biography" of Leonardo Da Vinci written by Mike Carey that threatens to horn in on Michael Kupperman's territory, a bit of wistful nostalgia by Duncan Fegredo, a short H.P. Lovecraft adaptation by Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon (!) and an original Wasteland short by Anthony Johnston and Charlie Adlard. All are well-made, generally entertaining reads and certainly worth the three bucks on their own.
As for the "non-professional" competition entries, there's some really great talent, and in a variety of styles. Sally Jane Thompson's one-page story "The Very Best" is a cute story, reminiscent of early Brian Lee O'Malley. The half-page "Trip to the North" by Matt Sheret and Julia Scheele isn't a comic in a traditional sense, but there's a sense of motion and animation to it that makes it certainly qualify, putting it in the territory of dreamy, unconventional works like A Lession Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible.
Those, however, are in the 18+ age group (the anthology specifies). The underage category boasts some budding talent, too, like "The Penultimate Month" by Raymond Mak, which looks like an early, not-quite-fully-formed entry in somebody's webcomic but has enough cleverness to make it a solid read. For one thing, it segues into a musical montage near the end. This theme carries on through the underage comics — the art isn't the best, but it's clear they have talent. Hopefully they keep at it and grow up to be awesome.
If you're into comics as a medium, pick up Thought Bubble #1. For a three-dollar comic, it's got more variety than anything else you'll read this week.
For more on Thought Bubble (both the festival and the anthology), check out festival Development Manager Clark Burscough's guest column.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery.