Review - Bandthology II

Bandthology from King Bone Press was an interesting and intimate look into the life of band members. It featured a wide variety of different perspectives and takes on bands, with most of the stories acting as very introspective looks at what's generally a tough life. The publisher wasn't content with only one anthology though and have returned with Bandthology II.

The first story is called "Farewell" by Jon Westhoff and Bobgar Ornelas. It's about one fan's sincere devotion to her favorite band's last show; a show punctuated by a surprise finale that relies on a sadness within the band that's simmered for years. The second story is called "Cover Up" by Wendi Freeman and Mat Nixon. Jack and the Jammers return to find out that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The work has a Powerpuff Girls look to it, right down the cartoonish violence. "Left to Write" is by Dan Dougherty and looks at song-writing and inspiration; many song-writers will tell you that inspiration often comes from the strangest events. There's actually a really cool series of panel insets showing a crumpled piece of paper unfolding into an idea, which is a great way of conceptualizing the transformation. "A Matter of Life or Death" is the fourth story by Andrew Vanderbilt and raises the stakes in the Battle of the Bands concept.

"Band of Brothers" is by Aaron Pittman and is really a testament to the camaraderie that inevitably brews amongst bandmates. The panels showcase a band going through all the trials associated with being in a band and the emotional bond that results. "How Do Songs Work?" is by Matt Collander and is a quick look at how songs develop meaning (or lack thereof). "Blood! Blood! Kill! Kill!" is by Don Cardenas and showcases a band using their musical talents to save the world from monsters. Finally, "Sound and Fury" is by Tony Maldonado, Greg Sorkin and Lauren Burke is a story of a band looking to break in big--whatever the stakes. Even if that means going up against competition that the band might not be entirely prepared for.

While the stories are varied in content, they all rely on a strong undercurrent of life in the band. It's not easy starting out in any creative endeavor, but being in a band is a story of trials, tribulations and triumphs. Bandthology II manages to explore all facets of the efforts and really present them without the glitz and glamour. It's not easy to be in a band and while not every band faces intergalactic alien invasions, there are issues with writing songs, feelings of depression and fighting for the big break.

The black and white art is varied across stories. Some of the work is a little more refined than others, but that's not a drawback for any of it. In fact, the art more or less is appropriate for the story it's visually describing. And not all the art looks exactly like Scott Pilgrim which is good for Bandthology II. It's easy to think that the art would be similar, but it's a bit grittier and more representative of being an up and coming band.

The second collection of band related short stories is equally as powerful as the first when it comes to band life resonating with fans. Some of the stories are a bit more realistic, but all manage to maintain the pervasive sense of difficulty in being successful (and profitable) in music. It's a great anthology that's almost an inside look at the trade, written and illustrated by folks who know the grind all too well.

Bandthology II is available for preorder.