Reviews

Review- Sliced Quarterly #8: An Anthology of Unique Comic Strips

What is Sliced Quarterly?

Sliced is a anthology publication containing experimental prose and illustration within the comic book genre.  It’s unique perspective allows comic book creators freedom to try different perspectives as they meld and weave narrative through text and illustration.  Ken Reynolds, the editor of Sliced, wants the publication to be a springboard for creators to test the traditional forms of the craft of narrative for the comic book genre and by doing this, allows the genre to communicate further and higher ideas to the reader more effectively.  These individual issues are completely free to download and experience from their website – Sliced Quarterly The goal is to create a paid edition of this content as an annual through crowd funding techniques.

I want to attempt to highlight some stories which stood out for me during my read through of Sliced. My overall feeling of this anthology was how impressed I was with the evident skill that went into bringing these works together in a cohesive fashion.  No Story seems out of synchronization to confuse the reader as they hop from narrative to narrative.  It’s an extremely imaginative and professional publication which I heartily recommend.

Issue #8 contains narratives revolving around the daily horrors of a sales person, the questioning of reality told in a meta-comic fashion, a terribly haunting story regarding sacred tradition in India and a touching story about depression and negativity.  What strikes me throughout this issue is that every creator has something to say. Each dynamic tale of societal woe or personal triumph is captivating and at times challenges us in our personal, or world view.

Blunt

The first strip I want to examine was perhaps the strangest subject to base a comic book narrative on, the humble salesperson, you know who I mean— you are out shopping in your local supermarket and a message booms from the overhead speakers, jerking you from your thoughts of Beer and which Pasta Sauce to choose, informing you that if you rush down to the deli counter and watch a demonstration, you will then receive a free gift!.  Written by Tom Abbosh and illustrated by Chris Dean  this tells a hellish story of a salesman desperate to promote a fairly useless product to an unresponsive crowd.  You will cringe through each panel as he delivers his sales pitch, at times enthusiastically, but becoming despondent and dejected as he senses the mood of the crowd. 

The artwork and the writing bring authenticity to the story. It’s a fascinating take on someone immersed in the ‘job from hell’ and floundering.  It’s brought a new sense of empathy to the way I now think about these salespeople – but I’ll probably still never purchase any of their products!

Prayers to Dakshayani

This is a haunting story, a powerful narrative which asks historically moral questions of the British Empire and their conduct in India, and also how we in the West view a different culture’s traditions in light of our own.  Set in the 1800’s, we are introduced to a young widow, grieving for her husband who has recently died. The quality of the artwork shows in the bleeding of the emotion from the initial panels— the pervading sadness and also the terrible realisation and fear of what is to come.  I was quite unaware of the Sati Ritual which was practised in India, a tradition that dictates the wife of the departed husband would join him in his funeral pyre to be rejoined with him after death.  We travel alongside Mina and encounter the attitudes of the British Riflemen stationed there.

Written by Steve Tanner and illustrated by Alex Thompson, this is one of the standout stories of this anthology, and in fact is a highlight of my reading month.  Beautifully illustrated and vibrantly coloured, with an atmosphere of fear, grief, oppression and strangely, at the end, the most elusive of all emotions to capture, hope.  I re-read this a few times, each time none of the original impact was lost.

Conclusion

Sliced Quarterly balances the various stories it contains extremely well. This issue has multiple narratives which will emotionally incline you to exchange horror and laughter in alternating doses.  As stated before, these are brimming with the sense that each creator has something important to demonstrate to society, and these experimental styles certainly bring a new perspective and depth to the comic book genre.  Again, proving that comic strips can be used for much more than just superheroes but as tools for personal and social exploration.

 

 

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About the author

Dr .Chris McAuley

Chris McAuley is a relatively new Nerd, having began his writing career reviewing old copies of 2000AD, he quickly progressed to interviewing major alumni of the comic book industry including Pat Mills, Grant Morrison, Glenn Fabry. Writing acclaimed reviews and features on Comic books and video games, he is also a Test Reader for Millsverse.

His background is in theology and it is in this arena which he gained his PHD, believing that story is crucial to human beings and that most modern cultural narrative experiences are driven from the ancient and the mythological.

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