The Escapist: Small Press Fest Anthology


A few months ago I was at The Escapist. If I remember right it was a Lady-Steed-is-not-with-me-and-the-boys-and-we're-passing-by-so-let's-buy-comics-yay venture. After limiting the damage to one comic per boy, I swung by the indie-zines table and was checking out the wares. One of the employees (Perry? Paul? I'm not there often enough....) and I got into conversation and he shared with me some info I'd missed, viz. that The Escapist had sponsored a small-press blitz back in September and, as part of it, said employee had got some local artists' work together and published it with Chance Press, a joint that prints quality crap in the same town in which I live. It hadn't been a simple undertaking, he said; I know what that's like, I said. And so he gave me a copy of the collection, retail price $5.00.

Chance Press claims on the collection's final page that this was a rush job not up to their usual standards, but it's still a thing of beauty. It's like a glossy-paged Moleskine wrapped in vellum. The printing is exquisite and ink-generous. It's hard to look at this softbacked beauty and believe they were rushed for time. It may be simple, but it's a terrific piece of work. I don't know a lot about Chance Press, but if I ever have a small-run art-heavy project, I'll have to approach them about it. See what they say. I cannot believe they're just binding these things up in a local duplex.

Anyway. How about the work inside?

I'm not going to talk about everyone, but if you're interested, this is every artist: Gabby Gamboa, Kane Lynch, Thein Pham, AA Rain'r, Radio Free Clear Nights, Fred Noland, Geoff Vasile, Rick Worley, Justin Hall.

I think my favorite was---no joke---a superhero comic---by Thien Pham. It's a more-or-less expected superheroey sort of tale, but given a soundtrack---Bill Withers's "Just the Two of Us"---which played with my expectations just enough to make me rethink everything I would have otherwise "known" about this story as it unfolded. It's a pretty brilliant piece of work and I've got some thinking to do about what it did and how it did it.

You can read it yourself.

This tiny collection also has some pretty typical underground stuff, some nice variations on autobiographical confessionals, a postmodern western---all kinds of stuff.

My copy is 4 of 50, but I don't know how significant that is. Ask The Escapist if they still have some, then swing by and pay your five bucks. Alternatively, Chance still has fancy ones still available. And they too are on Twitter.

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