I am going to be attending Thought Bubble soon. (Which is exciting, no? I do love me some conventions. Last time I attended one, aaages ago, my friend and I spoke to Paul Cornell and asked him to stop making stories which make us cry. We saw Paul leave shortly after. No connection, I promise you. Honest. Shut up. Stop looking at me like that).
Anyway. As part of my Thought Bubble prep, I’m re/reading some comics. It’s been a while since I’ve done comics on the blog so let’s sort that out with a look at Endangered and More Strange Stories from the Art Heroes team.
Endangered is a collection of stories interspersed with a couple of worksheets and tips on making your own comics. (And on a quick sidebar, that giving attitude is symptomatic of a lot of the comics I’m reading right now, that attitude of wanting to share work and enable children to develop their own skills, and that’s rather lovely). The worksheets themselves are excellent and very user-friendly (they give space to actually fill the boxes in!).
The titular story – Endangered – is the story of Tatiana, an animal obsessed child who grew up to be a vet and has now taken a job with the Endangered organisation, a group which rescues animals on the brink of extinction and moves them into an environment where they can thrive. This was my favourite story of the collection, primarily because of the layers available here to such a story. There’s a few frames in it which could have a huge level of different meanings applied to them and that’s always a joy to have with comics. Depending on your interpretation of the frame, there’s so many different ways you can take the story and all of that relies on you and what you bring to the table. Allowing that differing interpretation is also a great skill and something to be applauded.
The other comics in the collection; a cowboy, a ghost story and the one shot Birds of Pray (available in the sampler below) fell a little flatter for me and I suspect that a little bit of this is simply due to the chronological order of them. They read very well individually but together are a little more complicated.There’s a lot of art in putting together a short story collection, be that comics or text, and I suspect this is a skill which will develop in further publications from Art Heroes. The Birds of Pray, in particular, was probably the weakest of the bunch for me (though again, I think there’s something to do with the balance of the collection here, several long stories placed against this one made it feel a little out of place).
Art wise, Endangered is lovely. It’s full of vibrant and swift panels and a lot of openness to the frames. I particularly enjoyed the little ‘story within a story’ (this is the King and Queen story, available in the sampler below). There’s a lot of fun to be had with moments like this and I love the stylistics at play here. The panel of the Prince mourning his parents is particularly perfect.
It was a pleasure being able to look at this – thanks Art Heroes! (I want more Tatiana, please. Lots more).