Chris Arrant sent me a review copy of his new mini-comic, Four Stories, which contains four stories (imagine that!) all written by Arrant with artwork by four different artists. What I found odd was that the stronger stories were the latter two, and the weakest was the very first, so it was an odd mix. It gave the book a strange feel to it. Still, the last two stories definitely make this anthology worth picking up if you can (click here to purchase the book from Chris). In addition, all four stories give a clear indication that Arrant could do a lot more if given the space.
However, though, space is not a premium in this collection, with the LONGEST stories being six pages longest. This especially hurts the first story, Integral, which doesn't seem like it has an ending so much as it just ran out of pages. Which is an especially big drawback when you have such a bizarre ending. The end would hold a lot more force if given some space to breath. Artist Matt Bayne does a good job, though, except, I think, on an action scene towards the end, where the protagonist of the story (a former cop) uses the strap of a stolen purse to apprehend the purse snatcher. Bayne throws lots of "action lines" into the panel, but it really doesn't look like the cop is moving. Certainly not a BIG deal, but it stood out to me.
The second story, drawn by Joanna Estep, features a man dreaming (or is he?) while dealing with a breakup. It's only five pages, so we don't get much detail, but the little visit we get with the man is interesting enough.
The third story, I think, is the most realized. To be honest, five pages is short, but five pages isn't THAT short. You can, as this story shows, tell a pretty fully realized tale in just five pages, which Arrant pulls off nicely in Snowblind, which also has the best art of the anthology by Jessica Hickman. It's basically a down-to-Earth episode of the Twilight Zone. Creepy, but definitely effective because of the personalities of the characters involved. If we weren't interested in the characters, the ending wouldn't have any effect upon us - luckily, we were, so it does.
The final story, Stuart, drawn by Eric Adams, is a cute, fun story about a boy who just hangs around a hospital. This, of all the stories, is the one I think Arrant could most do a lot more with. But still, like Snowblind, Stuart tells us enough in the six pages we're given to feel like we saw a fully conceived idea, and I liked that. Eric Adams' buoyant artwork perfectly captures the bemused mood of the story - although I think I'd rather a different use with the funny section. I find it incredibly hard to suspend enough disbelief to believe the funny section could get where it ended up. I would have MUCH rather seen a panel where we just see Stuart go to a certain floor and not shown what he was doing, then we find out later that he brought the funny section by himself. It would make the last panel "reveal" make more sense, I think - not that it wasn't cute as it is.
Anyhow, Snowblind and Stuart should be enough for you folks to want to pick this anthology up. Good stuff.