Monday, September 7, 2015

Review - Stuck in the Gutters #1

"This first issue contains work from creators from at least three different continents and four countries. That's a hell of a thing."

The first issue features content by Stu Perrins, Brian Burke, Josh Flynn, Alex Diotto, Josh Trujillo, Chris Northrop, Rudy Trevizo, Benjamin Anthony, Jeremy Holt, Bobby Simpson, Luke Pham, Jess Camacho, Kelly Williams, Alex Mansfield, Paul Jeter, Tyler Hallstrom, Gareth Cowlin, Jideobi Odunze, Jordan Kroeger, Ryan K. Lindsay, Dan Hill and Marc Jackson.

Part comics anthology and part comics journalism, Stuck in the Gutters brings you a mix of comic shorts and comics criticism in a huge, 50+ page first issue.

There's a lot going on in Stuck in the Gutters #1. The format is an interesting choice, as it blends works typically found in an anthology with short essays. The thing is that all of the content makes sense alongside one another. For instance, there's a comic called Cast Out: Part 1 that spends three pages focused on a neanderthal like character escaping peril, effectively presenting various aspects of a comic creation in three pages. Then there are columns such as "Strange Love" by Holt and "The Circle Game," both of which focus on different aspects of being a comics creator (breaking in and the cyclical nature of comics respectively). The interweaving of comic with critique is very powerful and affords the reader a work that is something of a microcosm of the industry as a whole.

There's quite a disparity in artistic styles throughout the work. Just about every comic has its own unique voice courtesy of the artwork and the styles seem to cover every facet of comics. Those styles range from traditional superhero appearances to characters and settings that R. Crumb would be proud of. Even the essays boast a cover image that pays homage to the bigger publishers out there, using those images as a means of reinforcing messages such as why licensed comics can actually be decent. The art does a great job reinforcing the message for each individual story.

Stuck in the Gutters #1 is a fascinating critique of the comic book industry presented through the lens of insider analysis. The blending of comics and essays works exceptionally well and the bi-monthly publication will definitely turn a few heads (as well as encourage some heads to nod in agreement). The writing is solid, with each author lending their unique voice to an issue in/observation of the industry. The wide breadth of art styles really makes the book stand out as a solid representation of the comic book industry as a whole.

Stuck in the Gutters #1 is available now via Gumroad.


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