Amazing & Fantastic Tales – Issue 1
By Jim Alexander, Tom Carroll, Luke Cooper, Fin Cramb, Glenn Fleming, Lynsey May, Scott Sackett
Underneath a rather striking Luke Cooper cover we have the third of the Planet Jimbot comics I’ve looked at this year, following on from the sci-fi anthology Amongst The Stars and the first issue of Good Cop, Bad Cop.
Amongst The Stars suffered greatly from not knowing what it was, a good lead tale and several minor, slighter works. And now we have another anthology that again suffers from that anthology problem of not delivering enough, each small slice of something not really amounting to much. Inside here there’s two small comic pieces, 3 and 6-pages, and three short prose stories totalling 12-pages. What there is here is actually quite good, but there’s just not enough of it. It’s just a little slight, a little lacking. In fact it’s more zine with added comics than comics with a couple of text pieces.
The first strip Kroom; from Jim Alexander and Glenn Fleming, is a mere three pages long, literally start, mention a few things, throw a few ideas out there and then end…. not enough. Something to do with the noise KROOM, the patient falls from the sky, fixes a powercut with his otherworldly powers, picks up a companion, and Krooms out again. Look, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this will turn into something really good, but I simply have no idea based upon these 3-pages.
However, looking on the brighter side, one of the nice things of anthology pieces is the opportunity to see talent develop. Luke Cooper’s piece in Amongst The Stars wasn’t great, but his potential was obvious:
“The art either really impresses me with the starkness of the images or really bores me with the blandness of the same… to be honest I can’t decide and keep flip-flopping between the two.”.
That was what I had to say about Cooper’s art in Amongst The Stars. And by the time I got to Good Cop, Bad Cop #1 I decided I liked it after all, the stark, brutal black and whites suited this story so well, and his work had definitely improved. The issue itself was a great little intro, a high concept, well played out, super fast thing; Jeckyll & Hyde as a police procedural.
And here in Amazing And Fantastic he has a 6-pager. And although that’s hardly epic length it is a damn sight more satisfying than Kroom. As a done in one thing, it’s a neat enough tale, with a reporter on the run from a beastie. Now, without giving it away (it is on the cover, but you may want the reveal for yourself) … the big nasty is just that little bit underwhelming. Far better to concentrate on a couple of better things; Cooper’s tension building in the first few pages, and more than anything else, the improvement in his artwork.
Okay, it’s not completely there yet. Looking at those first few panels of that first page below, it doesn’t look at good and dynamic as it could. But look at that final panel. He nails it there doesn’t he? Menacing in black and white.
And I’ll pick out another couple of great panels, where his minimal line works really nicely, and his body language just seems to work….
Yep, I do like those. Luke Cooper has done the nice thing of turning my not sure right round into an appreciation.
Finally, the three text stories. All okay, all well written. But I just couldn’t get especially excited over anyof them. Again, it’s a length issue, these really are short, short stories….
‘A Mischief of Devils’ by Tom Carroll, is good, and starts so well, it’s all a little bit John Constantine, with a Douglas Adams stylistic touch, and a little Iain M Banks thrown in. But it rather peters out, this tale of Dukes of Hell, resolving too easily and quietly for the enjoyable buildup.
‘The Last Posse’ by Jim Alexander finds Wyatt Earp an unexpected family man heading into a town which already has The ‘Cisco Kid and Belle Star in residence. But this is merely the first part, and nothing more satisfying than a first chapter introduction.
‘The Roustabout’ by Lynsey May and Fin Crumb is a single-pager, merely the hint of the first part of the story, a promising story certainly, hints of creepiness already taking hold.
Thing is, I’m glad I saw Amazing And Fantastic Tales, if only for Cooper’s strip. Personally I’d like to see the next issue a little more comic heavy.
You can get hold of Amazing And Fantastic Tales from writer Jim Alexander – for details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org