The Great Unknown is an Anthology put together by Small Batch Comics. Small Batch assembled much like the Avengers, to handle problems the world couldn’t. Only the problem they are solving is the distorted distribution of comic talent in this world. Artists and writers exist in every corner of every town, and so few of them ever find their break. Enter Small Batch. With this first publication they brought us 7 unique stories written and illustrated by amateurs in need of an audience.
“We are the 99% and this is a comic book class war”- Small Batch Comics. Inspiring words. As an artist and writer myself, and having struggled to make my voice heard in the din of a thousand others like me, screaming for attention from the few large houses that produce works this is a pleasant sight. Their cause most definitely seems noble and with what I’ve seen in this first small batch of comics produced they have an eye for talent. I particularly enjoyed the art style in “A Twelve Minute Revolution In Just Reading”. Not quite sure it had the proper amount of rising action, climax, falling action and I don’t know if it was so much a story as it was a scene from a story but it was interesting and made me want to see more.
Most of the artwork was as good if not better than what you’ve seen at DC or Marvel. More of an indy feel of course, like something DC Vertigo may produce. So are the stories, but I guess that goes with out saying since the main line only publishes the big names, Supes, Bats, Spidey, etc. There were hiccups, like the line “Emit a foul smell to ward off prey…” in The New Zoo by Powell Cobb. The New Zoo is a fun tantasy created by Mr. Cobb and Mr. Cobb alone. The story was exceptionally fun and inventive with an art style that reminds me of a cross between Scott Pilgrim and Beavis and Butthead.
This indy style is very much repeated through out the entire anthology, which isn’t a bad thing. Some of my favorite books have this same approach (think Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and it’s entirely-different-from-any-other-art style look). As half of the stories compiled within were written and drawn by the same person it wasn’t hard to imagine that the strengths of a particular creator may lean more heavily toward writing or drawing. So maybe each piece wasn’t masterful. But I didn’t find one in the bunch that was with out it’s own impressive elements.
Like the incredibly vibrant color and shape of Erzsebet, which was beautifully illustrated (by hand no less which I personally find more impressive) and well written. People can do amazing things in PS Pro and they should be able to since they paid 700$ for the program. I love the impressive things people create in PS. What I don’t like is the fact that it is killing hand crafted art, and urging talented people into commercialized industry. The days of a hand drawn figure are fading further and further into the past. Unless you have the start-up or the means to obtain training and the incredibly expensive program, the ability to manipulate a piece of paper with a pencil and turn it into an amazing piece of work won’t garner you the success it once did. This creates a further divide between the talent and the masses.
Well it would appear Small Batch Comics is seeking to break down the barriers of this divide. Most of their artists use a more authentic approach, creating the pieces with tool-in-hand and genuinely showing craftsmanship through process.
I don’t want to delve into what I didn’t like about this story or that artist. It was all really good work. Like I mentioned earlier, “…artist and writer myself”, and it’s hard sometimes when you have a story you have to get out but you are forced to take on the burden of writing and penciling. Even to pencil and ink, or to pencil, ink, and color alone is tough. There’s a reason Marvel hires 6 people to work on each book, because it’s a lot of effort. With so few an amount of people working on these stories, hats off for your accomplishments. The Great Unknown hits the market today and I highly recommend you check it out. I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars (keeping in mind this is a collection of multiple works. Some are solid fives). I don’t know what Small Batch or this collection of creators has in store for the future but keep going. You’ve got something here.
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