August 29, 2018

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It Came Out on a Wednesday #1 by Alterna Comics

Published by Alterna Comics
Creative Teams:
Ben Slabak, Salomon Farias, Marc Sintes and HDE
Stephanie Cannon, Javi Laparra, and Marshall Sriboonrung
Eastin DeVerna and Shawn Daley
Troy Vevasis and Aleksandar Jovic
Peter Simeti and Michael Oppenheimer
Scott Bryan Wilson, Ken Knudtsen, and Tom Napolitano
Terry Mayo and Dave Swatz
Jeremy Massie


A little while back, Alterna Comics opted to try something different--use newsprint to make comics cheaper. I've been curious to see this in person, but I hadn't been able to pick up a copy of anything at my shop yet. I snagged the last copy they had of It Came Out on a Wednesday, both because I wanted to check out the format--and because I'm a sucker for anthologies.

Let's tackle the format first. Generally speaking, I mostly read in digital or trade. I sub to a few single issues, but they aren't my bread and butter. Part of this is because I hate paying $3.99 or more per issue for a comic I probably won't keep in that format. (Unfortunately, digital single issues are often similarly priced, but that's a discussion for another day.) I get that the paper is glossy and the modern coloring pops a bit better as a result, but overall, I still think pricing individual issues that high is a mistake. (I'm going to add an exception here for Vault, whose comics are a work of art. They make it worth your money.) But is there an alternative?

If this issue is any indication, the answer is yes, especially for smaller publishers looking to make a space for themselves in the direct market. I admit because I grew up reading newspaper comics, I like the feel of the paper that Alterna is using, and I appreciate that unlike some of the glossy ones, my thumbprints don't show up. And while it works best on the black and white pages (natch), I thought the colors in this issue were solid. They don't pop as much as on the usual stock, but from my amateur eye, I didn't see any issues with bleeding, smearing, or dull blending. It's extremely well done, especially on those who don't use a full palette. 

In short, the fact that I could pay $1.99 for this instead of, say, $4.99 (or even $6.99) meant I was happy to take a chance on it, and I didn't feel like I lost anything by the more old-school approach to the insides of the book. So the plan that Alterna has for this line--cheap single issues to lure readers in--definitely works, at least for me. 

Of course, price isn't the only reason to select a comic. There has to be good stories, too. How does It Came Out on a Wednesday match up on that score? Not too bad, with the caveat that, as with any anthology, enjoyment varies from story to story. I'm not going to try and cover all of them here, but these were the ones that were most notable to me:

  • Ben Slabak, Salomon Farias, Marc Sintes and HDE lead off with a comedic cricket match that serves as a frame to set up a world in which there are aliens, both good and bad, with Australia taking a lead in helping to protect the world. It's a teaser for an ongoing series, which isn't my favorite thing to do in an anthology, especially as the lead story. Farias' linework is thin, which lets him get a lot of facial emotions across, but it's a little stiff for my taste. Slabek's dialogue fits the story well, but I feel like we don't get enough here. Hopefully, that will change in the first issue of the series.
From The End of a Beginning
  • The End of a Beginning was one of my favorites in this issue. I loved the limited coloring, using shades to set the mood of two unlikely lovers. Eastin DeVerna and Shawn Daley play with mythology, but don't pick one in particular to inform their choices here. What we get instead is a sense that for some, mythical adventures must end, and that's not always going to lead to living happily ever after. Daley's panel structures really move the story, with a strong sense of action and pacing, and his Mushoom Guardian is a great use of a big, bulky, and powerful. I'd love to see more by this team, who really know how to tell a story in a short space like this.
  • What happens when your hero who can sense everything can't find a way to shut out the background noise and hears all he can't save? It's a good question, and one that Alterna Chief Peter Simeti and Michael Oppenheimer explore in brief here in their contribution. What could have been overly dramatic or maudlin is tackled in an understated manner, with the main character explaining his problem to a therapist, and it even ends on a note of hope for a broken superman. Oppenheimer's scratchy, sketchy lines help with the controlled drama, and I like what he does with the varying two-color pages.
From Sleepships
  • Sleepships reminded me quite a bit of 2000AD's Future Shocks, where a small drama in the science fiction genre plays out. It's a great concept--stranded humans need alien tech, but aren't too picky on the details--but the art by Ken Knudtsen lets it down. It's entirely too abstract, which would work if we were focusing on the conclusion, but because that's the style of the entire piece, the final image just feels like more of the same. A pity, because the "gotcha" on this one from writer Scott Bryan Wilson is really cool.
  • An important thing for any anthology is a strong closing story. Jeremy Massie delivers with the hilarious farce called Bloodfist, about an adventurer that appears to have perpetual blood on his fists and punches his way out of trouble. He's joined here by a Bea, who is an outcast. Massie's art remind me a lot of other indie folks who work in the homage-parody field, with thick ink lines, minimal backgrounds, and a focus on action and confrontation. It's a great little romp, and the blurb promises more in the next issue, which would be really cool.
It Came Out on a Wednesday #1 is a great start, and I easily got my money's worth. These stories aren't quite as polished as their more expensive counterparts, but I think those who like to seek out indie creators who are doing sci-fi, horror, and fantasy comics will find a lot to like here. I know I did, and I'm glad I put this one on my limited pull list. I'm not sure how easily it will be for you to find this one locally, but it's definitely recommended for anthology fans of genre comics. I'd love to see a few more comics like this that I can take a chance on, that's one of the best parts of discovering new comics. Alterna definitely has a potential model, and I hope it keeps working for them.