Bezoar 1 and 2

Bezoar 1 and 2
Written and Illustrated by Joey Weiser, Patrick Dean, Drew Weing, Michele Chidester, David Mack, Aaron Fu, Eleanor Davis, and Lee Gatlin

A collection of creators with a leaning towards horror comics in all its many forms come together for two volumes of short stories, collected in mini-comic anthologies in one convenient place for horror fans.

I grabbed this because PP favorite Joey Weiser was part of the group of artists, and I wasn't a bit disappointed. These are quick hits, perhaps a bit too short for some, but they show a strong quality of storytelling and art, along with a nice contrast of styles. Joey's thick, heavy inks and lighthearted tone contrasts against the serious nature of Drew Weing's contributions. Meanwhile, Patrick Dean's long, thin lines give his a distinctive feel versus the short, thin lines of Aaron Fu.

It's that type of variety, while holding to a quality level, that makes an anthology rise above its many peers, and the editors (David Mack for the first and Joey Weiser for the second) should take a bow for understanding how to make a project like this work.

Here are a few words on each of the entries, done Oily Comics write-up style!

Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing open the first collection with a story that blends a boy's imagination with the horrors of the forest. Told partially in rhyme, Weing's layouts really show the claustrophobia and fear of the boy quite well, which retracts when he expands to overcome the terrors surrounding him. Done quickly but packing a punch, this was a good start.

Weiser follows with a story that fits very much in with his longer mini-comics work, about a place where monsters dwell and battle and "The Littlest Monster" triumphs despite his size. The creatures have a suitably kaiju-esk look, but are more aggressive than those on Monster Isle, Wieser's old webcomic. His ability to make the action flow more smoothly now is on full display here, ala Mermin. This is another fun entry in Weiser's work, but he'll top himself later, as I'll mention shortly.

Patrick Dean only gets two pages for his cursed verse, about how even nightmares need a nap. Reminding me strongly of Andrew Cohen's Howzit Funnies, this one really made me chuckle once we reach the punchline. Though very short, you can see Dean's style on display, with the extended lines that come together to form an image that has a nice, shadowy nature to it. He'll get a longer piece in Bezoar 2.

Haunted House from David Mack is another quick hit, in which an older man is about to be shaken out of house and home, but the reason makes a lot of sense. The gag here is in the timing and creative use of the page turn, with the reveal not showing up until we've gone to a new spread. Mack uses a ton of small lines to make up his drawings, given them a very fragile look, which is a lot of fun to inspect and review as a reader.

Rats for Cats closes the first set of stories, with Davis and Weing again teaming up for the tale of a clever cat (who looks rather like the one in Rabbi's Cat) who nearly dies at the hands of a horrific cat-killer. With some nice rhyming work in the middle once again, this one is another stellar story, packing in a lot of details into a short space.

Bezoar 2 has less stories, giving each creator a bit more room to breathe. This time, Patrick Dean starts us off, with a story of a haunted manor cursed due to cheating a witch.  This one has a great neo-Victorian feel to it, which, when combined with Dean's droll sense of horror humor, makes for a great comic. I love the way he does it as a series of interviews, leading to a punchline you can see coming, but still works quite well.

Drew Weing's story ironically is a bit of a take-off from that of David Mack in the first collection, but he takes it in a very different direction. A boy asks why they must have blackouts in their floating city, but no one wants to tell him. When their mobile city host attacks a landlocked one, the answer is all too real, making this by far the most serious story in either mini. While Weing's work in the first had a strong emphasis on shadows and blacks, this story uses whitespace to enhance the art. Some of the detail work on this one is absolutely outstanding, with buildings given windows, no matter how small we see them.

Don't ask why the man can talk to his dog in David Mack's contribution, because it's about a living train carrying monsters as passengers on an old, abandoned track, so it's not like realism is the primary point, eh?  The irreverent dialogue between human and master is cute and the absurdity of the passenger car and its travelers worked well for me. As with his other story, Mack uses a lot of short, thin lines to capture the story, which gives this a very different look from the details of the comics on either side of it in the anthology.

I think Wranglers might be my favorite Joey Weiser piece of all time. Two cowboys argue over the merits of beans, only to learn their herd of a very famous monster are spooked and in danger of being destroyed. It's Weird West in just four oversized quarter-zine pages, but the ridiculous nature of their animals, which we only see briefly, is laugh out loud funny. It's also notable for the first time I've ever seen one of Joey's characters curse. The looks on the two cowboys as they banter and then worry over the death--not to mention those of the creatures themselves--show his maturation of an artist, just as the action scenes in Bezoar did. Brilliant work, and worth grabbing the anthology for this one alone.

Lee Gatlin finishes the anthology with a story that reminds me of something Kate Beaton might have thought up. The famed hunter has one weakness--wedgies--that will bring more than just his underwear into the underworld. Drawn in an angular style and shading that evokes watercoloring, Gatlin's comedic timing on this running--and pantsing--gag is a nice closure to the proceedings.

The two Bezoar anthologies are great stuff that any fan of fun horror will love. They're available at conventions where one or more of the creators are hanging out or you can pick them up in Eleanor Davis' store. Either way, if you liked Boo! from Monkeybrain or similar comics, this is just right for you.