Reading Pile: ShortBox: a box full of fun and fine indie comics
I normally wouldn't try a Kickstarter grab bag of various styles like this, at least not for the $70 price tag ($47 for the books, the rest in shipping). Considering though how much I've enjoyed Shortbox publications in the past and that the shipping cost would still be a bit pricey if I broke it down to just one or two books anyway, I thought it was worth the risk in sampling this batch. Plus, I just really liked the look of I See A Knight, so I figured everything else would just be gravy on top of that center piece.
You can pick these up individually and directly from Shortbox, so here's a quick run through of the set in case you want to pick and choose.
Temple by Jack T Cole
"A wolf journeys through lush lands to a magical temple floating in the sky. This largely-wordless comic is a stunning testament to Jack T Cole's artistic prowess, and a moment of nirvana and beautiful escape."
I've already featured Cole's artwork before so it's safe to say I'm a fan of their style, but as an added plus this also gave me some heavy Ricardo Delgado vibes reminiscent of his great sci-fi series Hieroglyph. This is a fairly brief read as it is wordless, but there's just a lot of rich scenery and design work to sink your teeth into.
Bun's Comfort Food Corner by Chu Nap
"With step-by-step photo recipes and charming comics, this book is loosely based on Chu's own experiences with food and learning to cook. Let Bun regale you with anecdotes of food mishaps (and successes!) while providing delicious low-maintenance, go-to recipes that can be used regularly."
A very cute approach to tackling subjects of self-care and mental health through the topic of food. Chu Nap has a great voice with their style, plus you get some fun recipes throughout.
'Moving' by Luis Yang
"Two women prepare to move house, but as the day dawns and the removal carriers come and go, they find themselves unable to leave. An evocative internal reflection on the things that we hold on to, and the point at which they begin to hold us back."
There was a great sense of melancholy to this one, but there was also some ambiguity that threw me off in some places. That may have just been on me, but overall I felt that this was the least substantial package from the entire selection. There were some strong messages about moving on with your life despite the disconnections you may experience from others, but it didn't feel like it had enough time to capture the significant characterization needed to create a resonate connection with the characters.
'Gristle' by Lily Blakely
"A creeping horror about an isolated, paranoid young woman and a mysterious fleshy plant. Confined to her home, Olive finds a strange pink fungal plant while out on one of her walks. Deciding to bring it back with her, she is increasingly drawn to it, at times comforted by it and at times repulsed. Odd things begin happening... But are they a product of Olive's feverish, building cabin fever, or is something more sinister going on?"
Easily the creepiest book out of the lot, with a great sense of dread that's brought on more by the anxiety of social interactions and relationships than of the actual mystery creature of the piece. Blakely's style has a very 'Charles Burns meets Paul Pope' vibe to it which makes the entire package very engrossing as well as disturbing.
'I See A Knight' by Xulia Vicente
"Since childhood, Olivia has been able to see a headless knight invisible to everyone else- is it an omen, a ghost, or something much more real? As she grows older, Olivia becomes accustomed to the knight's presence in her life but knows, too, she must one day finally confront it."
I absolutely adored everything about this book, from the concept, the scripting, and especially Xulia Vicente's expressive art and beautiful color palette. This is an incredibly heart warming (and heart wrenching) tale beautifully told in 40 pages and it makes me want to hunt down and buy anything and everything Vicente has worked on.
The strength and variety of this bundle definitely offers the high level of quality that I've come to appreciate from Shortbox. It's also nice to just support creators and small publishing directly, and one of the tiers on the Kickstarter stretchgoals was specifically about giving all artists a bonus for their work, so Shortbox is also super awesome for doing stuff like that. So yeah, keep an eye out for future projects of theirs and check out their website, learn more about their box initiative, and support some great indie comics.