Review - Outré #3: Xenophobia

"They are disgusting beyond belief and if they do not leave our world they should be eradicated."

Everyone wants to feel like they belong. Some people cling to their belonged group so tightly that they're not welcoming of newcomers. There's a happy balance in between there that must be struck, but doing so often proves more difficult than expected. Outré #3: Xenophobia is an excellent example of such hardships. It's comprised of a series of stories that hammer home points of isolation and acceptance. "Out! Out! Out!" is by Steve Ince, Giles Crawford and Mick Schubert, "The Day the Foreigner Came" is by Landon Wright, Sebastian Chow, Kote Carvajal and Sean Rinehart, "Grave Travels" is by Kyle Kazcmarzcyk, Ashley Ribblett and Mick Schubert and "The Suburbs" is by Emmet O'Cuana, Rinehart and Tim Switalski. Additionally, there are two illustrations as well: "Peas in the Pod" by Jonas Larsen and "X-Factor" by K. Michael Russell.

True to the anthology's title, there's an undercurrent of xenophobia pervasive throughout the collection. "Out! Out! Out!" subverts the expected rights lobbying by making it men who vocalize the feeling that their rights are being trampled by faeries. "The Day the Foreigner Came" is about a group of Georgian friends coming to grips with the fact that they feel their people are being "stolen" from them by other nationalities. "Grave Travels" is about a Frankenstein-like monster coming to the realization that maybe the world isn't ready for his presence. "The Suburbs" is about one man's supposed delusions about tentacled aliens abducting and killing a town's inhabitants. Even the two illustrations emphasize a sense of being ostracized due to what are perceived as physical imperfections.

The collection of stories are quite varied, but the theme of xenophobia brings them together extremely tightly. Anthologies always tend to have some shared theme that brings them together and it's a testament to the creators of Outré #3: Xenophobia that it works very well here. Each story engenders a sense of familiarity in the reader, as it's likely we've all been viewed as an outcast as one point or another. The fear of being replaced in "Out! Out! Out!" is very tangible; in fact, the story revolves around one pregnant woman who shows fear herself about the faeries appearing. "The Day the Foreigner Came" showcases a very real fear of culture dilution that some nationalities cling to extremely tightly. "Grave Travels" is probably the most elegant story when it comes to be an outsider, with the protagonist feeling it's better to be detained anonymously instead of scaring those around him. And "The Suburbs" speaks to our collective fear that things aren't always so quaint in the neighborhood with well manicured lawns and family routines.

While the anthology shares many common themes, the art is a little more diverse. Each story offers a style that's vastly different from the others, but fits the narrative of that story. "Grave Travels" relies on a black and white cartoonish look that helps lighten the otherwise somber tone. "Out! Out! Out!" feels the most polished in terms of the total artistic presentation. "The Suburbs" feels indie, while "The Day the Foreigner Came" feels like a newspaper comic strip. The two single-page illustrations are also sufficient at delivering the overall theme of the anthology without words; each in their own unique way.

Outré #3: Xenophobia is a collection of stories that everyone can relate to on one level or another. The sense of belonging that we feel as humans is extremely powerful, but it's a sense that's not necessarily owned exclusively by us. Every being wants to be part of something larger, so it's unfortunate when there are others who don't feel as all-inclusive. The collection of stories and illustrations in Outré #3: Xenophobia takes this theme and really runs with it, offering rather thoughtful explorations of the fear of acceptance. It's a pretty solid anthology that showcases a wide array of talent and is worth picking up if you want something a little different.

Outré #3: Xenophobia is available now.