Comics Features

REVIEW: Outré Volume Four – Silence

Written by Patrick Smith

Silence is the latest offering from Outré Press, just released on December 5th. It’s presented with a bracing clarity of purpose, as part of a cogent and compelling series of anthologies. You can read our reviews of preceding volumes, right here. No overbearing editorial direction is proffered to the selected creators. They simply provide the theme and it’s entirely for the producers to develop their respective visions as they see fit. In this instance, the theme is silence.

This is a book that makes an assured first impression. Giles Crawford’s captivating cover illustration is wittily on-message and Magnus Aspli has provided a delicate design for the book which uses breadth of space and smart typography to reinforce the motif. Another striking aspect is that the storytelling throughout is free of the encumbrances of the written word. Not a word balloon, thought bubble or caption in sight. Entirely appropriate as it is refreshing, it provokes an eagerness to discover how each band has chosen to play in this intriguing conceptual pen.

Planetary Rings, from Bret Bernal, Alex Diotto and Jon Scrivens is a slice of science fiction that examines a particular moment of crisis in a relationship. One party is a traveller between the stars and the other, simply is not. The lilac-hued colour scheme is vivid and suitably non-terran. There’s drama and emotion in just about every single panel.

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Devon Wong, Peter Mason and Kóte Carvajal deliver a menacing and disturbing piece, The Language of Violence. The artwork is both eerie and beguiling as the mysteries of the protagonist, a hard-working family man, are subtly revealed. The panelling and layouts are deftly adjusted within each page; delineating each stage in this story’s progression and cunningly supported by shifts in the colour palette.

Peon from Lex Wilson and Kelly Willams is a sprightly romp of a tale. Actually, that’s just too mild a way of expressing it. It’s bursting with so much kinetic energy that you’ll be breathless, upon its conclusion. It’s a thrilling short-story of a battle against seemingly hopeless odds, featuring an underdog that will make you smile, perhaps even laugh out loud, before the day is done.

The final instalment is Cyborg Witch from Dave Newbold and Joshua Jensen. In just a few pages, you’ll find yourself immersed in a savage world, brimming with possibilities for conflict and dazzlingly visceral combat. The narrative is conveyed with an adept sense of escalation. There’s a palpable mystique to this heroine, too. One can’t help wonder if she might be a distant descendant of The Man With No Name.

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These fine mythical arrangements are supplemented by two dramatic single page illustrations from Danos Philopoulos and Noel Franklin. If anything, they emphasise the considerable achievements of all the participants. They each succeed in telling a lot of story within the confines of a set subject and a brevity of pages.

Silence is an invigorating and stimulating read; each submission provokes and engages the imagination as one glides from panel-to-panel, conjuring voices, touching on all the senses, to add to each unfolding drama. This is an experience that’s certainly compounded in subsequent readings.

The final delight to behold is that this anthology, as with all previous offerings, is available for you to enjoy, for free! Outré Press are certainly achieving their aim to expose new and great voices to the world. Your time will be well spent if you make your way here and tune in to the sound of Silence.

About the author

Patrick Smith