So I’ve been sick a lot lately; when the weather changes here in Orange County, my body doesn’t react very kindly towards it. I’m currently recovering from a very bad ear infection that made me a nauseous and dizzy mess; as I work my way to feeling some semblance of normalcy I’m confronted with the daunting task of reviewing another edition of Sliced Quarterly, the indie comic anthology that features “slice of life” stories.
When I use the word “daunting”, I’m not saying it with a negative connotation; as a reviewer, I come across a lot of stories that could be classified as being a bit simple…Nothing is simple in Sliced Quarterly, so much so that sometimes you can spend a lot of time reading one of Sliced Quarterly’s stories multiple times, and you still won’t understand what’s happening. To paraphrase editor Ken Reynolds from his accompanying press release, these comics are simply meant to be experienced.
In issue #3, which you can read my review for here, there was a lot to enjoy. For the most part, I understood a vast majority of what was happening, and what the writers and artists within the anthology set out to accomplish. Maybe I’m still a bit woozy from being sick, but this one is way crazier and all over the place; I can’t even really nail down a theme that glues the stories together! Reynolds describes this particular issue as being a “Marmite comic”. After looking Marmite up on Wikipedia, I found that it’s a food spread that comes with an interesting slogan: “Love it or hate it.” From his foreword, I believe Ken Reynolds widely expects this book to generate polarizing opinions, but in all honesty nothing about this book made me hate it; if I didn’t get the story I simply shrugged and moved onto the next one. Nothing is offensive, confusing, or incoherent enough for me to hate it, have a strong dislike towards it, but that’s just me. Maybe someone else might have stronger feelings about it, and that’s okay.
My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
By Andrew Pawley
The opening story by Andrew Pawley is my favorite, mostly because I love the art style. It reminds me a bit of Ren and Stimpy, or some other cartoon that seems to perfectly capture the grossness when you look at life uncomfortably up close. It tells a comprehensive story about coming home from work and escaping into imagination; this sequence is really vibrant and beautiful. I really dig this one.
Art by Gareth A. Hopkins
Words by Erik Blagsvedt
Lettered by Ken Reynolds
Just when I thought I had gone and regained control of my equilibrium, this story comes along and knocks me back down. At first glance, there’s not much here; it’s a poem that flows across the page through images that you can kind of make out (is that a flower? An eyeball? Oh! That’s definitely a person, etc). Like I mentioned earlier, just looking at this one makes me dizzy. The poem is beautiful, but I can’t identify a meaning or a reason, and one read through is enough…my poor, poor head.
By Kathryn Briggs
I enjoyed this one a great deal; 08226 is dialogue over a map where the Narrator recalls her childhood experiences with her Grandmother. It’s simple, but a beautiful kind of simple that I definitely relate to. We all have those memories we retreat back to when things in our lives have taken an unpleasant turn. I think that line about the Narrator’s fridge now being big enough to accommodate a giant watermelon really resonated with me long after I read it.
By Cat Byrne
In Cat Byrne’s contribution, Mediorc, we see a monstrous creature purchase and devour a can of ravioli…that’s literally it. It’s such an odd comic that it skyrockets itself into the extraordinary. My mind has been boggled by this mediocre orc, and I’ve begun dreaming up other scenarios I’d like to see. Cat Byrne’s art is really enjoyable here, and I thoroughly enjoyed this story; it reminds me of canned raviolis in that there’s not a lot of sustenance in its ingredients, but it keeps coming back up throughout the day.
Cliffs of Dover
Written by Charles Ripley
Designed by Ken Reynolds
Cliffs of Dover really hit me hard; I took it as a story being told through the dissolution of a creative partnership. The visuals are presented in blank comic book panels and annotations referencing a former collaborator. We see hints at their back and forth conversations, and we preview their individual personalities. I lack the ability to draw and create visual art, my power is in writing from my mind’s eye, and I’ve experienced the frustration that comes with trying to collaborate with someone who is your opposite in that aspect…I think this story captures that frustration perfectly. I appreciate that the story is still released, even without visual completion, but it left me wishing their collaboration had worked out so I could have seen these beautiful images that were “removed” after the collaboration ended.
Written by Sergio Santos
Art by Tania A. Cardoso
I was easily sucked in by the art on this one; Tania A. Cardoso nails this nightmare fuel tale written by Sergio Santos about a man and his violent relationship with his computer. It’s short, and I don’t want to give anything away, so all I will say is that I can totally relate with this one.
by S.J McCune
This one is very trippy and Meta; it involves a woman basically taunting pictures about her ability to move and act freely while they remain frozen and immobile. The art is enjoyable, and the premise is fascinating, I loved this story, and I think it’s one of the best in the issue.
By Tara Lucy
Lastly, we have Self-Checked Out by Tara Lucy, and it hilariously depicts the stresses of using the self-checkout line at a grocery store. For something that is supposed to be fast, reliable, and independent, it always seems like it takes a lot more time, effort, and energy than just waiting in a normal line. I got a nice chuckle out of this one; the art is perfectly frenetic, and my stress levels steadily elevated as the comic moved towards the end. This story was very effective, and I adored it.
While I don’t think this entry was as solid as issue #3, Sliced Quarterly #4 is still a neat book that may not appeal to people who think about comics in the more traditional sense. I view sequential arts as a vast frontier of possibilities for storytelling and genre bending, but for someone used to comics only being synonymous with superheroes and Sunday funny strips, this might be a bit jarring. Like I said, you don’t have to get it to enjoy it, and with this issue I’m admitting I’m not even close to being sure I’m getting it; still, it’s a hell of an experience, and I definitely recommend it for those who appreciate something a little bit different…maybe a bit polarizing?
Next week I’ll be posting an interview with Sliced Quarterly’s Editor, Ken Reynolds! Be sure to check that out!
Check out Sliced Quarterly for free at www.slicedquarterly.co.uk
PLEASE check out their Kickstarter for a TPB: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/201581505/sliced-quarterly-vol-1-an-experimental-comic-antho
Follow them on Twitter: @SlicedQuarterly
Check them out on Facebook: http://facebook.com/Sliced-Quarterly-541396502703864/
While not as consistent as its predecessor, Sliced Quarterly #4 is still an awesome book. What drags it down is seemingly lack of an overlapping theme, but these standalone stories are worth checking out and enjoying for the superb art direction and unconventional storytelling. Give it a read!