COMIC REVIEW: Reads – Volume 2

When I reviewed Avery hill Publishing’s Reads last year I was astonished by the quality offered in this anthology. Now the hard bit has arrived: trying to recapture the magic from volume 1 with volume 2.

Once again, the cover art is striking. A homage to The Beatles, this cover will capture the reader’s interest straight away. One of the things that I liked so much about the first anthology was its uniqueness. For a tried and tested product, the Reads team managed to make it feel innovative. Once again they have done this with Hilary Harper, a character from the first anthology introducing the book. This page works on three fronts: it is a cool way to introduce the character, a clever way to market the first anthology as well as an innovative device to show the contents. I loved how the character broke the fourth wall complaining that there was not enough room for his strip this time.

It is always important to have a strong opener and ending. Last time, Ricky Miller decided to finish Reads with his own work, Metroland. It was a good choice. Metroland was one of the strongest stories in a book that had quality running all the way through it. This time it starts the book. . It was a nice touch to have Metroland as the first story. A strong opener that felt like it carried straight on from the last anthology: Metroland finished the first book. Wednesday’s by P.B. Rainey is a quirky finish to the book. It feels different but in a good way just like the rest of this anthology. Yet it doesn’t seem to have the same bang that Metroland had.

The inventiveness continues in the stories. Metroland uses clever panel structures help the story to move to a nice pace. Yet hats off must go to the ingenious structure by Michael Gosden and David White in Bad Times Ahead. The first page will blow you away with its quirky style. This continues through the entire story. These kind of things make the book stand out among the rest. It is what made me so excited to read this latest issue. It is an indie comic at its best: a crop of highly talented creators showing what they can do.

Many stories finish with a To Be Continued and I can happily say that I cannot wait to find out what will happen in them. Metroland has grown from its first stellar outing. With Miller’s art once again standing out. It has a Lowry feel to it as the scratchy pencil lines add depth to the story. His use of cultural references adds an extra element to the story Further, Bad Times Ahead was unique and intriguing: I left feeling upset that when I turned the page there was not more of the story.

Tim Bird’s style is similar to that of Daniel Clowes. Yet I believe that Bird’s writing is far superior to the American illustrated in The Knowledge. The Knowledge follows a taxi driver who wants to show off how much he knows. Bird’s writing has a feel of Scott Synder as he develops the taxi driver.

The House by Majory Wallace is a nice, bittersweet story. The contrast from white to black works well. It is perfect to show what an anthology story should be like. The silent Cloudriders by Claire J C Stewart has stunning art work

One of the great things about the first Reads was it’s innovative style. Thankfully this continues again. An incredibly strong follow up with some clever touches and brilliant stories. Highlights have to be Metroland and in particular Bad Times Ahead. Anthologies usually are things that have the good and the bad but here we have the exceptional, including stories that I cannot wait to see what happens next in.

You can check out Reads here

GS Rating: 4 out of 5

GS Reporter: Luke Halsall

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