Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I Had Issues! A Review of Inbound #5

One of the many reviews I tried to put out on a regular basis as quickly as I could. Originally published March 3, 2011. Edited to fix mistakes that inevitably came from trying to work that fast. 

Given how hard it is to sell $3-4 dollar pamplets, it's no surprise that comics publishers are opting to publish larger, trade sized anthologies rather than 32 page issues. And while I’m bummed that World War 3 Illustrated is giving up the magazine format that seemed to suit it for a format similar to Mome, I think this path will work well for Inbound, the anthology put out by the Boston Comics Roundtable.

Last year, Inbound 4, the first issue in this new perfect bound format, struck gold and got some good local press with a Boston-themed issue, which contained stories touching as many facets of the city’s history as possible in 140-odd pages. It’s been a few months since it’s been published, but Inbound 5 might have less of a hook for local press to grab with its more mundane sounding food- themed issue. It would be a shame to see it fall through the cracks, because it’s here many of the creators are really hitting their stride.

Locally, there hasn’t been a themed comics anthology since Jef Taylor’s Don’t Shoot! (It’s Only Comics) over a decade ago. Some artists buck against this idea, but the majority of the Roundtable group seems to thrive on this idea. Better yet, this gives individuals like Cathy Leamy (whose work already leans toward journalistic nonfiction from time to time) a chance for better exposure in an atmosphere where mini comics have a hard time selling. Her Inbound 5 contribution "Chase That Cheese is part of the "Food Fact" section. The "Food Fiction" section is larger and, to me, the more fun of the two chapters (maybe it was a release after all the research that went into Inbound 4). That said, there are gems all over the book, such as regular contributor Line O's rich autobiography piece "The Sardine's Tale" and a slice of life fiction piece from newcomer Martha Moyer, whose first ever published comics work evokes the styles of underground cartoonists such as Shari Flenniken and Joyce Farmer.

Roundtable stables Roho and Dan Mazur provide a solid contribution with "Yam Gruel," and as a former waiter, it was worth picking this up alone just to read Dave Ortega's "The Caterers," a poetic take on the art of food smashed by the art of the service industry. I could go on, but now that you got a taste of the specials, you should actually make an order for this anthology now (end only food pun in review here, add apologies).

Pick up the book at your favorite local store, then visit the Boston Comics Roundtable website for more information on their other anthologies, Outbound and Hellbound.

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