It has always surprised me that anthologies are not as prevalent in pop culture as they are. In our 140 characters, gimme gimme, on demand, short attention span lifestyles, you’d think bite-sized stories would be gobbled up by the book full. Maybe it’s my own personal bias that cause me to feel this way. Frankly, I love anthologies. I have a ton of short story collections on my book shelves, I’ll rush out to watch any anthology horror movie that gets released (even the crappy ones), and I have a subscription to Heavy Metal magazine.
The idea of a showcase for both up and coming and already established artists has always enticed me. I love discovering new creators, and it’s fun to see someone, who’s work you already enjoy, try something new. That’s why Image’s Island is such a breath of fresh air. Each issue showcases new blood while giving some mainstays a new playground in which to run amok, for better or worse. Island #8 is no different.
The bulk of this issue is taken up by the ending of Simon Roy’s story, “Habitat,” and unfortunately, it wraps up with a somewhat lackluster conclusion. Roy knows how to evoke a certain primal unease through his art, but the guy doesn’t believe in straight lines. It makes his work both compelling to look at and somewhat difficult to follow. This works really well when he’s drawing hyperkinetic, acid science fiction comics for someone else, but when he’s in charge of the dialogue and sequential layouts, things don’t always have the same impact.
“Habitat” was a bit of a disappointment for me. His tale of tribal space war should have gotten my sci-fi haunches up, but without the strength of a better script, it felt strangely mundane while also being completely bonkers. It’s a faulty balancing act that left me with the feeling that Roy didn’t have enough time to flesh things out. This isn’t to say the entry is bad; it’s simply just not up to par with some of Roy’s other works like The Field or Prophet (the latter of which he does occasionally write).
In Island #8, we are also graced by a couple galleries from two very talented artists, Xulia Vincente and Ben Sears. Vincente’s art clearly has a strong Eastern influence but doesn’t rely on the visual tropes of most Manga work. There’s a liveliness to her work and I’d love to see more of it in comics. Sears’ art, on the other hand, has more of a stern aspect to it, stylistically speaking. His cityscape designs clearly borrow from Aztec culture and architecture, which gives it a larger-than-life vibe while making it seem habitable by all walks of life (human and otherwise).
But within this issue, it’s “Mostly Saturn”, written and drawn by Michael DeForge, creator of the bizzaro, satirical anthology series Lose, that is the real standout. “Mostly Saturn” tells a wonderfully twisted story about life after death and what it means for those left among the living after other people’s departures. It’s a well-tread topic, but DeForge tackles it from a new angle that is reminiscent of stories by Robert Sheckley and George Saunders. I’ve always enjoyed DeForge’s work, but it’s stories like this that make me wonder why the hell this guy isn’t a household name or why Cartoon Network hasn’t dumped a truckload of money on his front porch to create a cartoon.
Image has delivered another solid issue of Island, and while I felt the back half of Island #8 was a little dragged down by “Habitat,” it’s still worth your money.
- The brilliant “Mostly Saturn” story
- Xulia Vincente’s artwork
- Great bang for your buck
- The conclusion of “Habitat”
- “Habitat” making up half the issue