Zainab Akhtar started ShortBox in 2016, a "fun and fine international comics box" curated by the comics critic of the Eisner-nominated Comics & Cola. Rather than a subscription service, boxes are released quarterly and for sale individually, and include five comics and an A4 print that are not available anywhere else.
ShortBox #7 is currently available for order until Jan. 31, and will ship in March. This edition includes the comics Beneath the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll, Wizard and Soft Pig by Rosie Brand, Navel Gazing by Gyimah Gariba, Cat & Bag by Viv Schwarz and Paradise by Matthew Pettit, along with the print "Colossal Tussle" by Alexis Deacon.
"I’m basically the perfect sales patsy for a comics box, and yet there was nothing out there that I wanted to get on board with," Akhtar told CBR of the origins of ShortBox in 2016. "A lot of comic boxes are either very generic or tilted towards buying into a geek-identity, so you only receive one comic, a t-shirt, a keyring, a mug and a plastic figure. I want a comics box to be comics focused. I actually want comics, you know?"
CBR has an advance preview of the stories in ShortBox #7 along with descriptions of each, plus a look at the print by Deacon.
"Murder, decadence, cowardice, guilt, and aristocratic foxes in wigs all combine in this gorgeously poignant poem/folksong from Emily Carroll, about the futility and heartbreak one can run into when dealing with vengeance."
"Roll around in the gentle visual felts of Wizard and Soft Pig, wander aimlessly through the forest, smile at a flower. Lie face down in the mud."
"A cool evening finds Gyimah Garbia's protagonist in introspective mood. But what happens when being wrapped inside your thoughts finds you quite literally inside yourself...! ' Navel Gazing follows an engaging, reflective journey of self exploration, doppelgangers, and an infuriatingly monosyllabic wise old sage."
"Cat and Bag are constant companions. Cat is an artist who makes picture books and comics, and Bag is, well... there. There to remind Cat of each and every worry, there to undermine Cat's decisions, there to roll-call all the embarrassing things Cat's done at a moment's notice. Can the unlikely duo ever make it work? Viv Schwarz chronicles her relationship with anxiety disorder in this collection of warm, funny, and moving strips."
"Having defected from their bandit gang, Paradise follows the journey of two boys, their circumstantial relationship and the inevitable circle of violence and anger that permeates their actions."