Thought Bubble Anthology #3

"Thought Bubble #3 is an anthology tie-in to the Thought Bubble 2013 Festival in Leeds, England later this month, from November 17-24, with contributions from comics professionals and the winners of the Thought Bubble Art Competition (TMCAC). All the proceeds to be donated to Barnardo's, a UK children's charity. The comic is a tabloid newspaper-sized collection, with 24 stories, most of them limited to a page.

"Judge Dredd/Elephantmen" by Richard Starkings and Boo Cook with a follow-up by Carlos Ezquerra is the most hyped aspect of the anthology. Predictably, the plot setup is a misunderstanding between the two titular heroes. Unfortunately, the art has bad anatomy and cluttered composition, and the conflict feels like manufactured fan service.

"One Night in Comicopolis" is another two-part production, with Part 1 and 2 by Cameron Stewart and Brandon Graham, with the two creators switching off on script and art duties. It's a theory or concept-driven piece, full of knowing winks at readers familiar with their comics toolbox jargon like "gutters," "crossovers," and so on, including a name-check of the anthology title. It's clever, but the humor verges on being too knowingly ironic, self-satisfied or academic.

"Childhood Inspiration" by Rufus Dayglo is a one-page pin-up featuring a necklace of influences.

Dan Berry's "Hey You," gets a full three pages to tell the story of a hotel customer who confronts a physical manifestation of his needling fears. The ending is predictable, but the inky shading and blue-green coloring creates a spacious nighttime setting.

"Rain Falling Like Hammers" by Oliver Redding and Lee Barnett is more like a music video than a comic, with a loosely connected string of images strung together by prose in textboxes. The images are suitably dense, but the build and the ending are emo and melodramatic, feeling like pop music lyrics that don't hold up when read alone instead of sung.

"My Dream" by Ming Doyle is a lovely one-pager that does a great job of mimicking the handwriting, rhythm and thoughts of childhood.

"Sanctuary" by Tom Humberstone is an educational one-page piece about refugees. It gets to the point quickly, has a clear message and creates sympathy, but the editorial placement of agenda-driven nonfiction amid fiction pieces feels odd.

"Rooftop" by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba is a one-page meditative piece, characteristic of the brothers' graceful visual style and poetic, meandering flow of action.

"I am Meckle" by Ramon Perez is an action-filled science fiction piece, full of dreamlike images and ideas. It is pretty, but its monotone palette and its staccato, non sequitur action make it confusing as well.

"Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter/Ellerisms Crossover" by Marc Ellerby is a cartoony humor piece in which Ellerby spoofs himself.

The punchline ending of "Prey" by Clark Burscough and Adam Cadwell is a well-executed version of a classic twist in narration.

The half-page "Hotel Feline" by Lizz Lunney is charming but relies heavily on feline cuteness.

"An Apple a Day Keeps the Cloners Away" by Joe List, also a half-page, is a strange joke about cloning and the old doctor's adage.

"Mittens" by Emily Kimbell is the 2nd place competition winner for the 18+ Thought Bubble Art Competition. Kimball's illustration style is mature and lavish, but the resolution doesn't have the emotional depth to justify all the panel space of the plot.

"The Drift" by Nicholas Gurewitch is a fart joke, but it's an elegant, clever fart joke that visually wraps in continental drift.

"Passing Thoughts" by Jessica Martin and Mark Buckingham is a polished skit revolving around the hazards of the planning fallacy in a might-have-been romantic encounter.

"Bounty Hunters" by Chris and Keith McDonald won 3rd place in the 18+ Thought Bubble Art Competition. The ending joke is gory and predictable, but the McDonalds' facial expressions are strong if exaggerated for cartoony effect.

"Believe in Yourself" by David Parkinson won 1st place in the 18+ Thought Bubble Art Competition. It is easily of the strongest pieces in the anthology. It plays with comics structure, and the changes in perspective and panel shape are meaningful and sensitive in design and emotional impact.

"Kebab Shop of Horrors!" by Zoom Rockman won 3rd place in the Under 18's Thought Bubble Art Competition. The story has a raw, messy style, and while the panel transitions create suspense, the ending fails to draw any emotional punch from its anthropomorphic food product premise.

"Darren's Dentist of Doom" by Jack Land won 1st place in the Under 18's Thought Bubble Art Competition. Its "cavemen dentist" concept is simple and goofy but restrained.

"Rise of the Planet of Apes" by Ato Ame won 2nd place in the Under 18's Thought Bubble Art Competition. It is full of manic energy, but the art style is rough.

"Teenage Moebius" by Jeffrey Brown is a short and funny autobiographical piece by Jeffrey Brown about his adolescent aspirations to be like the French artist.

"Thought Bubble" #3 is a fine read for a good cause, but is a typical anthology in how is an uneven collection of bits and pieces, with a few small gems scattered within.

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