Back from Cardiff Comic Expo with a huge pile of new comics, the remnants of a hangover and a day off work to deal with both.
My recovery started with a nice cup of tea and a reading of a new anthology: Into the Woods. It’s a collection of fairy tales, reworked and retold by a variety of writers and artists, under the stewardship of Stacey Whittle. If you don’t know Stacey, you don’t know comics: she is the queen of the small press, one half of the Small Press Big Mouth podcast and a passionate advocate of all that independent comics can offer.
So it’s interesting to see her switch her reviewing shoes for editing ones. Talking to her at Cardiff Expo about launching Into The Woods, she was excited, relieved and terrified all at the same time. She didn’t need to be terrified: Into The Woods is a well-balanced anthology with a consistently high level of work throughout.
Everyone will pick their favourites: I loved the unspoken hints of nastiness at the end of Rich McAuliffe and Sara Dunkerton‘s Red Riding Hood; the oppressive atmosphere of The Madness From the Sea (by Scott Harrison, Lee Grice and Filiip Roncone); the beautiful, gentle ending of A Time For A Change by Ollie Masters and Valia Kapadai.
If I could only take one of these stories on my desert island though, it would be Black Shoes, as told by Daniel Clifford, David Wynne and Ian Sharman. Set in the early 1970s, it creates a great sense of place and time and quickly conveys the relationships between mother / daughter and schoolgirl / suitor. Our heroine finds herself in a perilous situation of her own making, and her solution is as brutal as it is inevitable. I believe that the best fairy tales carry a warning on their gossamer wings; for me, Black Shoes issues its warning cry loudest of all in this anthology.