Amazing and Fantastic Tales is an anthology series from Planet Jimbot that delivers a set of tales that are diverse in both form and content. Now, I’m a big fan of this type of series; a good anthology serves as a potential treasure trove of storytelling and equally there’s the joy of being exposed to exciting new talent.
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to read through #1 – #4 and witness the development of the episodic stories, whilst also enjoying some of the palette-cleansing ‘one-shots’ that reinforce the variety within each issue. There’s a relatively even split, within each installment, between illustrated stories and prose. This very much reminds me of the established publishing traditions of my youth, and as such, it’s a format I regard as potentially rewarding to any fan of good fiction.
The opening story in the first and subsequent issues is KROOM by Jim Alexander and Glen B. Fleming. They deliver in each ‘episode’, three pages of full-colour graphic fiction. In each instance, a fine example of condensed storytelling. In #1, a mysterious hospital patient saves the day in miraculous fashion, whilst developing a relationship with a fellow patient and ultimately taking her with him on his mind-warping, dimension hopping jaunts. I honestly found myself trailing back through the pages to check; was that really just three pages? Yes! Yes, it was.
Now, I’ve been a fan of Luke Cooper’s fine work for some time and I particularly enjoyed his illustrated story, Deadlines : The Wererat of London in #1, along with his prose offering in #4, Don’t Read This. The former is a deliciously dark tale of a female reporter on the run from something monstrous, within the bowels of the London ‘tube’ network. It’s a fast-paced tale, brimming with action, sass and twists. It also comes across as a fine homage to the old classic, ‘American Werewolf in London’. The latter is a tongue-in-cheek, meta-fictional two-pager, that both prods and tickles the reader. The accompanying illustrations reveal how Cooper’s adept design sensibilities, enhance his draughtsmanship. He also delivers a finely rendered 5-page story in #3; The Bounty Hunter.
In Issue Two, there’s an excellent one-page graphic hilarity written by Jim Alexander, drawn by Andrew Docherty and lettered by Jim Campbell; Happy Slappy. It opens with a bang, so to speak and ends on a surprisingly heart-warming note.
The Last Posse is a gritty prose piece set in the uncompromising wild west, with approximately six pages in each issue. Reading more ambitious works of wider scope in episodic form can work well and certainly does so in this instance. There are illustrations here and there to provide a bit of flavour, along with a fine bit of branding at the foot of each final page but the raw meat of the thing is in the words and they sure do deliver. I want me a Sherriff’s Badge!
In #3 I was particularly entertained by Love and Asbestos, a short piece from Alexander, Will Pickering and Campbell. A sweet old man reminisces on the passing of an old acquaintance and the terrible toll taken on men of a certain age by asbestos. Yet romance is in the air and as he reveals his intentions one is hit with the realisation that there’s less of the sweet and a lot more of the wicked.
Bad Tooth written by Alexander, illustrated by Eva Holder and lettered by Campbell, published in #4, is a fatalistically tragic tale that opens with the member of a small collective, waking up on a Sunday morning with two grievances; A thumping tooth-ache. Not good. And Zombies. Oh dear. There’s a sharp wit to this tale and a conclusion that takes no prisoners.
There are many other fine contributions in both prose and graphic form, ranging from gothic horror to sci-fi, along with a liberal dose of humorous pieces.The sheer scope is thrilling and there’s a great deal of entertainment within these pages.
I’m quietly convinced that there really is something here for everyone.
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