Review - Bandthology III

"We've got everything else the band needs...but we've gotta have a hat guy."

Before you play the sold out arenas, forty city tours and get the cover on Rolling Stone, you've got to put in work otherwise to be a successful band. That means playing smaller venues, traveling insane amounts of time in a van typically and fighting with other members on the creative direction. It all makes for rather fascinating storytelling and it's something King Bone Press has perfected in their Bandthology series, with the latest entrant Bandthology III. The anthology is comprised of "Hat Guy" by Matt Collander, "Carry On..." by Jon Westhoff and Ray Wegner, "Listen" by Brian Holland, "Return of the Warrior" by Andrew Vanderbilt, "Leave Mine to Me" by Bill Zanowitz and Elliott Junkyard, "Punk Rock" by Bobgar Ornelas, "Beardo" by Dan Dougherty, "Metal Skeleton: Sound Check" by James Ford and Sean Fagan, "Reverb Deep, Mountain High" by Wendi Freeman and Alejandro Rosado, "The Gathering" by Leo Perez and John M. Lennon, "You and I" by Andy Jewett and "Champion" by Monsta and Westhoff.

Bandthology III essentially picks up where the previous two anthologies left off. For instance, "Hat Guy" plays upon the common band trope that every band needs one guy wearing a hat, which for some reason imbues them with unexplained powers of popularity and cool. Another story is "Carry On," which takes the concept of the ballad to an entirely different (and somewhat galactic level). And there's a story that takes a look at how bands tend to elicit fanatically devoted followers who become their own subset of band culture couched against the infighting that occurs in said culture as to who's really part of it.

The talent in Bandthology III is quite diverse and every story tends to draw upon some common themes that comes with bands and performing music. There's so much that can be mined from the material (and clearly King Bone Press has, considering this is the third anthology), but all of its done so very tongue in cheek. The writing is breezy enough where you're not getting bogged down in trying to keep track of characters or plots. In fact, each story itself is only a few pages long, so they're very short and sweet. The fact that the stories are relatively short is where Bandthology III excels, as they carry the common thread of being a band throughout and offer drastically different viewpoints on that membership.

Artistically, there's a lot of variation in Bandthology III, which is expected considering it's an anthology. The book maintains the same black and white style of its predecessors, helping to give the book the small-time band feel that many of the stories seem to capitalize on. There's clearly a difference of styles from one story to the next, so much so that some of the transitions are rather jarring from a visual standpoint. That's not a bad thing though, as the differences help add the atmosphere one would expect at a concert or battle of the bands. Much of the art relies on its uniqueness to carry the eccentricities of the band life.

Bandthology III is a book that's a lot of fun. There's a lot of really interesting stories in it that really tap into the life of a band and its members, with many of them quite humorous. Creative arts always require commitment and can be somewhat trying at times, a fact that's not lost on the Bandthology III creators. A lot of the characters who appeared in the two earlier versions of the anthology return in Bandthology III for more misadventures, providing a slight level of continuity. If you're looking for something that's slightly different, then Bandthology III is definitely what you're looking for; bonus points if you're in a band and can relate to being the hat guy.

Bandthology III is available for preorder now from King Bone Press.