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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Amazing & Fantastic Tales#3. Edited by Elinor Winter. Produced by Jim Campbell. Planet Jimbot (2014)

A very enjoyable anthology with a mix of illustrated prose stories and short comics. There is a consistent balance of tone throughout the collection which binds together the very diverse stories.
"Karrom" part 3, Jim Alexander & Glen B. Fleming. A human woman has been taken on a wild ride across space and time by an alien before they find time for introductions. The chance to see home for an instant is grasped and harsh truth is made clear. The art is bright and soft, it drives the slight story very well giving depth and context where it is needed. The weight of the story rests on the cast and they are given the chance to express themselves fully.
"The Last Posse" Part 3, written by Jim Alexander, art by Graeme MacLeod. The two preceding parts of the story pull together and snap sharply into focus. The Last Posse is together, all called to the strange town for different reasons and now ready to act together. A clever team-up of classic western heroes with a very satisfactory dry as dust feeling. The portraits by Graeme MacLeod are full of life and fit in with the dislocated tone of the story
"Love & Asbestos",  written by Jim Alexander, art by Will Pickering, letters by Jim Campbell, edited by Eli Winter is smart and funny. A simple set up, a single character narrating a story, the pacing is wonderful and the pay off good fun. The whole thing is as light as gossamer and the smallest false note would ruin it. The apparent simplicity of the story hides the strength required to pull it off, the pacing is perfect, the action slight, carefully varied and draws the reader along at exactly the right tempo. No excess and nothing left out, wonderful craft made to look easy.
"Paradise Lost" written by John McShane, art by Graeme McLeod. The longest story in the collection this is very enjoyable piece of science fiction. The first half has a very tight focus on the crew member of a spaceship, there is no overall context for their presence or purpose, it is focused on their interactions. The pared down details work as the actions and reactions of one of the crew provide just the right amount of information to engage the reader. The second half follows a slightly more familiar arc that uses the same minimal detail to drive the narrative up to the nicely bitter closing.
"The Bounty Hunter" written and art by Luke Cooper is great fun. Luke Cooper's high contrast art is perfectly suited to the story, it allows the action and the intent to balance with each other perfectly. Things may not be what they seem and where that is used as smartly as Luke Cooper does it then a great comic is the result.
"The Roustabout" part 3 written by Lynsey May and Fin Cramb has the most difficult task to perform of all the stories in the collection. A straight up horror story it had to manage to deliver enough force in a very small space and still have a strong continuity to hold it together. It succeeds on all counts, the action has weight and force and the story has a strong cold and wet grip.
Anthologies are very difficult to manage, they have powerful structural problems as they have to deliver sufficient variety without compromising on the internal balance between the stories in terms of lengths, tone and content. If the stories are too diverse they clash as a reading experience, too close together and they blur into each other. Amazing & Fantastic Tales#3 manages to solve the problems very enjoyably, mixing prose and comics breaks up the reading very well and overall there is a unity of tone that ties the whole volume together. Also the cover by Graeme MacLeod is a knockout.
Chief Wizard Note: This a review copy very kindly sent by Jim Alexander from Planet Jimbot, for more detail on how to get Amazing & Fantastic Tales#3. contact planetjimbot@gmail.com


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