May 30, 2011

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Kids

Written and Illustrated by Various Creators
Self-Published

Normally I post a scan of the cover itself, but I loved the look of all those copies on a rack, with the hand-stamped KIDS each looking just a bit different from each other.

Kids is a themed anthology of stories having to do with childhood in some way. Whether it's looking back at a time past or seeing things as a child sees them, the stories all have a strong connection to the idea of what it is like to be a child.

Most of the stories are playful in nature. The opening story by Melissa Mendes stars a child who sneaks outside to commune with nature in a naughty way. "The Kittens Hate You" by Lydia Conklin shows why you should never put your trust in a cat's love, while Joe Lambert's two-pager displays the silly things we used to do as kids. (Personally, I always counted to nine.)

Interestingly enough, there are two witch stories, both of which use the innocence of a child to show an adult a new possibility. I wonder if Charles Forsman and Max de Radigues realized they were doing similar ideas for the same anthology?

Perhaps the saddest story, appropriately enough, is about the oldest kid in this anthology, a 17 year old. James Hindle tells the story of Edward Canary, who had a friend named David once upon a time. They shared quite a bit, living on the edge of society together, until David moves on, leaving Edward in the metaphorical "Trash Heap" of the title. It's a story of loss and separation that all kids must face at some point in their lives.

Nate Beatty has the longest entry, a time-capsule of a comic that involves break dancing, boom boxes, and the Statue of Liberty. It brought back vivid memories for me, but I do wonder about its relevance for anyone under 30, which I would think is the primary audience for a mini-comic. I liked the way a camcorder was so important to them, as the fact that my grandfather had one was such a huge event in our family.

Artistically, this anthology is very much true to the roots of the mini-comic/zine experience. None of the creators featured here are bad artists, but the emphasis is on the story, not the line drawings. There is an economy of line usage and people are portrayed in ways that emphasis the cartoon nature of the medium, rather than realism. This is more Jeffrey Brown-Gabrielle Bell territory and there's nothing wrong with that at all. If you are a stickler for "fine" art, Kids will be disappointing to you, however, so just be aware of that going in.

Kids is a generally heartwarming anthology with stories designed to make you think about your own childhood experiences. It's definitely a nostalgia trip, even when the setting is slightly fantastical. If you want to pick up a copy, you can do so at the project's blog.