November 21, 2009

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Subterranean #1

Written and Illustrated by Various Creators
Edited by Andrew Greenstone and Alexander Bullett
Self-Published

Subterranean moves up to full-sized anthology with this sixty-some page, silk-screen covered collection of comics, featuring contributions from Greenstone, Bullett, and Knickerbocker (all veterans of the mini comics anthologies), as well as others along the way.

(As a side note, this is also the only one of the anthologies for which I could find a cover image. I really think these guys need a better web presence, as their comic is worth sharing.)

The anthology opens with a short adaptation of an interview with Carl Banks, who muses on the idea of graphic novels, but because it's 1972, he's not sure the idea would work. This is most likely why Chris Schweizer chose this interview to draw. It's always fun to see things like this, and it made for a good start.

Michael Conner swiftly takes the reader down a strange path, as two creatures vie for some trinket, with interesting, humpty-dumpty like results. I liked Conner's line work quite a bit, providing details and shading in an overall design that is deceptively simplistic.

Bee careful who you put in charge of traffic safety, warns Falynn Koch in her short, two page entry, while Jarrett Williams gives us the motivations behind the antics of an "evil" wrestler, reminding me of the 1980s when Hulk Hogan had a cartoon and was on the side of the angels.

Perhaps my favorite entry was veteran Alexander Bullet's contribution, a noirish detective story set in that classic noir setting, daylight on the beach. The characters are all childish-looking, like avatars on a website, adding to the visual contradictions. And last but not least, the ending is not only set up in the story but completely ludacrous. "Dick Valentine, Private Eye" is hysterical from start to finish, and shows that Bullet keeps getting better.

Kevin Burkhalter draws a stupid and square-jawed cowboy as part of "Settlin' West", in which a man with more heart than brains manages to save his wagon party and found a town, all by attacking a wolf with a branch of a stick. Just go and try *that,*, John Wayne!

Page 38 doesn't have a credit but it looks like a jam comic to me, about the demands of an underground race that keeps getting progressively stranger. I wish I knew who did it, so I could give credit.

Jon Chad adds a very strange story about the dangers of picking up a penny tails-up (something I would never do!), and is followed by Kevin Singles riffing on the idea of a nature special. I was rather amused by the idea of human animals getting spider-sense as their instrinctive sense of danger.

As he did with many of the mini-comics. Andrew Greenstone finishing off the anthology with an untitled piece about a man down on his luck cursing a fortune-telling toy tank, only to discover it may be more than it first appears. The story itself has been done before, but I liked the narrative pacing and tr trick of having two columns per page that must be read up-down left-right, like it was a video game code.

Overall, the first major anthology for Subterranean was a success, I think, with the new creators contributing pieces that fit right in with the style of the core group of creators. (In this way, it's kind of like a micro-press version of Flight.) There's a lot of cool ideas going on and artwork that definitely could "graduate" to a small press label some day. Best of all, I think you can still get a copy of this anthology, if you track down the Subterranean folks. Fans of mini-comics will be glad they did!

I can't find a good website for the Subterranean folks, but their blog is here. It hasn't been updated in quite a while, though.