Since their 2017 debut, the all-female comics group Wine and Zine have been busily producing a variety of publications, along with their own podcast. Their fourth publication, Wine & Zine Anthology, is perhaps their most cohesive statement yet. A brief yet gorgeously-produced collection of five strips, one from each of the five members of the group, collate together into a warm, tender handful of stories.
Strips range from the perils of two friends buying ice cream (Roy and Rei Get Ice Cream), an exploration of bi-sexuality (Defining Bi) and a particularly heart-breaking story of child loss (His Voice in the Trees). It’s odd to think of a comic that houses a story about ice cream and a story about a grieving mother, but what binds these five short stories together is a meditative exploration of relationships, a minute but unsubtle reflection of personal anguish. Whether that be intense social anxiety found in Roy and Rei Get Ice Cream, the thrills and spills of seeking a new life for yourself in Leap, all five of these strips bear a handsome, quiet charm.
Zara Williams‘ Roy and Rei Get Ice Cream and Bryony Evans‘ Leap strategically bookend the anthology has being the wittiest of the strips, both boasting anime-styled levels of quirkiness. Williams’ articulate yet caricatured art and colours give her story a visual bounce, while Evans’ comparatively smoother styles may be slicker, but equally suitable for its deeper themes placed atop of a light-hearted surface.
Jessica Leslau‘s Rise is the most difficult strip to unravel, a wordless, almost singular scene of a child and an older woman bonding with each other through a downpour of rain. It’s the strangest of the five strips here, and yet has a delicate elegance all its own, bolstered by Leslau’s inventive panelling. Gemma Roberts‘ Defining Bi is undoubtedly the most personal of the bunch, due to its autobiographical stance. In three brief pages, Roberts deftly traverse feelings of confusion, hurt, acceptance and happiness in her realisation of being bi-sexual. It’s life-affirming resolution is mirrored Claire Spillers‘ His Voice in the Trees. The darkest of the strips, it retains all the same calm yet resolute philosophy of the other strips included here, making it at once the saddest and yet heart-warming of the strips here. Lending the strip impact is Spillers’ firm grasp on lush, tribal visuals.
Wine & Zine Anthology is a spry, emotive collection of the funny and the heart-breaking. We can only hope this is the starting point for the group as a collective of confident, vibrant story-tellers and artists. It may be a short read, but it’s not short on substance. More works like these from the group can only be a good thing.
Wine & Zine Anthology will be debuting at this year’s Thought Bubble Festival. Wine & Zine will be at the “Ask for Mercy” marquee. Will you be picking up a copy? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!