January 31, 2011

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Candy or Medicine Volumes 2-6

Written by Various Writers
Illustrated by Various Artists
Edited by Josh Blair
Self-published

I picked up a stack of this anthology a little while back but just now got around to reading them. I like anthologies and I like mini-comics, so it seemed only natural that I should give this one a try, especially since it's so inexpensive at $1 an issue.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that with the exception of Volume 6, the results are a little too uneven for my taste. A lot of the work seems rushed or unfinished. In a few cases, the work is just bad. I can deal with primitive art if the story is interesting, but in a few cases, there's neither artistic appeal or a good idea.

I appreciate letting folks express themselves, but there's a reason why I don't try to do a mini-comic of my own: I can't draw. I understand my limitations. In several cases, it feels like the enthusiasm is there but the talent is not. As a result, the overall effect of the anthology is not as strong as it could be. When there are good stories in the first few volumes, they're buried too far into a mix of things that probably would be best left for more seasoning.

Things are pretty sparse, at least for me, in volumes 2 through 5. I liked Colin Tedford's "The Eternal Soup", a lighthearted take on the questing genre. "Love is Blind" opens Volume 4 with a sick joke that uses its two-page spacing very well. Most of the rest in these volumes suffer from the problem of feeling unfinished that I mentioned above.

I did think Volume 6's stories were a lot better, which means I'm inclined to check out more and see if that's a trend. It opens with a one-page inept detective by Ariko Kitsu and transitions into a longer piece by Jason Viola that takes up five pages and uses all of them quite well. An enterprising young man offers to stop a case of bullying via a trial at school. The parody of a real court works perfectly, and the ending gets a nice dig in at the trial lawyers. I enjoyed this one a lot, and it was definitely the highlight of my reading. The rest of the stories are just okay, but they're drawn fairly well and I thought the ideas worked better than the comics that dominated volumes two through five. Rob Jackson's ending on the back cover reminded me a bit of something Aragones might do. All in all, Candy or Medicine 6 was head and shoulders above the other four.

After reading these five books together, it's hard for me to know where I stand on the Candy or Medicine series. It has the potential to be quite good, as Volume 6 showed, but there's also a lot of comics that probably didn't need publishing. Still, at a dollar a pop, it's worth it to take a chance and see what you might get. I've certainly spent my money in worse ways on comics over the years. If you want to check out the series, Candy or Medicine has a website that you can find here. Start with Volume 6 and see what you think. This is definitely something for those who are willing to experiment not those who want a sure thing.