Publisher: The Sleepless Phoenix
Survival Stories is an anthology from a large group of British writers and artists who found themselves without a publisher when Insomnia ceased trading earlier this year. A successful internet campaign to promote and generate funds for this project via Kickstarter allowed these creators an opportunity to see some of their work in print and raise money for the Comic Book Alliance, the public face of the industry in the UK.
As is often the case with anthologies, the style and quality of both the writing and the art varies greatly. The stories are unified by the book’s title, with each offering a survival story as interpreted by its creators. This title lends itself well to horror and war tales, which make up the majority of the book. Science fiction is also represented but in a much smaller quantity. As might be expected for a largely horror-based anthology, tales of the walking dead whether vampires or zombies are included but thankfully they do not dominate the book. It is refreshing to see some new ideas here which do not rely too heavily on the ubiquitous walking dead. Whether for artistic or financial reasons the book is presented in monochrome and this works well with the generally dark tone and the overriding themes of the book.
Amongst the most memorable pieces is the beautifully drawn The Fire of The Gods by Joe Coyle, a short, sad tale of a hapless robot told against a steampunk backdrop. It is again the impressive artwork which makes Yaguara another outstanding piece. The story of two young tribal boys is simply told and is drawn by Tony Suleri in a style which captures the movement of the piece to great effect. Two war tales bookend the anthology. These too are personal favourites and both highlight the horror and futility of war in their own different ways.
That this collective of creators was committed enough to see the project through to completion says a lot about their ambition and there is a lot of talent on display here. Most of these stories are worthy of a read for their own sake, but Survival Stories is also an admirable showcase for emerging British talent in the comics industry and for this reason alone it is worth investigating.
GS Reviewer: Gareth Webb