A review a day: <i>Inbound: The Food Issue</i>

Let's check out another tiny press book! That's always groovy!

The Boston Comics Roundtable group sent me a comic a while back, and now they've sent me another one! This one is an anthology, apparently the fifth that has come out in this series, and it's all about food. Everyone likes food!

If you're going to put together an anthology, having a theme is probably not a bad idea, because at least then you can have a good sense of it being a single work, even though several different creators are working on it. And it also helps because, of course, anthologies are usually wildly diverse in terms of quality, so if there's an overall theme, it pulls things together a bit more.

The book is split into two sections - non-fiction food stories and fiction food stories. The fictional stories are better, because the creators can go a little more nuts with stuff - the non-fiction stories are a bit blander and formulaic, even though there's some nice work in there.

Of the non-fiction stories, "A Sardine's Tale" by Line O is the best, not only because it's the most exotic - it takes place on board a Norwegian transport ship during the 1970s - but because it's the best drawn. It's intricate and detailed, full of fun and odd bits, and shows us a world most of us, I would wager, have never seen ... well, unless you spent your childhood on a freighter. Some of the other non-fiction stories are pretty good, but as they're about a person learning (or yearning) to eat an unusual or forbidden food, they feel similar in some ways. "A Sardine's Tale" even falls into the same kind of framework, but the setting and the art raises it up more than the others.

The fictional stories are more varied and therefore a bit more fun.

The highlights include "What's Eating Prometheus?" by Adam Szym, in which the two eagles who gobble up Prometheus's liver every day ask him what he's doing there - the birds are quite humorous, as they can't even stop and listen to his tale without munching on the organs; "The Boy Who Ate Too Many Tongues" by Jesse Lonergan, a story about a boy who doesn't talk until a butcher tells his mother to feed him tongues, which has disastrous results; "Whatever's in That Can" by Ryan Wheeler and Katherine Waddell, in which we go inside a cat's head and realize that they really are quite evil (and I love cats, mind you); "The 9 Onion Rings of Hell" by Erik Heumiller, which would be an awesome Dr. Strange story (and which is obviously patterned after the Strange/Wong relationship); and "L'il Nemo Brown" by Joel Christian Gill, which is a biting parody of fast food done in the best Winsor McKay style. The other stories aren't bad, but those are definitely the highlights. The art in the fictional section is better, too - the artists seem more confident and willing to stretch themselves, creatively, to give us strange worlds of food. Even if the stories aren't as good, the art in the fiction section makes them more interesting to read because they're more fun to look at.

I don't love Inbound #5, but it's only 12 dollars, and if you like supporting independent cartoonists, you could do a lot worse than picking this book up. There's not a bad story in the book, even if some of them aren't great.

Tomorrow: So much fabulousness! Can you handle it?

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