Sliced Quarterly #3 is a collection of indie stories by a collection of varied talents. The first tale, Crowdsurfing is scripted by the writer of Brethren Borne – Jon Laight, with art supplied by the talented chap Rory Donald (who recently provided the art for the Madius Comics title: Griff Gristle!) The story itself is a wistful tale with a sun-bleached feel. Weighing in at 2 pages of story Jon affects a suitably effective plot that is delightfully realised by Rory.
Final Reality is next up, written by Dominic B. Aveiro and illustrated by Ben Peter Johnson. The story is an amusing critique on modern society, as realised through the format of computer games. The evolving art for the story works well with each different layer of the story.
Kathryn Briggs delivers a 4 page tale that is a mirror of the horrors of life in Britain under the present (2016) Conservative government, with their xenophobic legislation. In “Alle Meine Neue Woerter Sind Libenmittel” Kathryn Briggs presents a reality for the legislation which demands that foreign nationals working in the host country earn above a set value and the effects this has on people that fall below this. The story is haunting in the effects this has on the central character. The parallels with reality make the impact of the story so much keener.
In Aufklarung, by S.K. Moore, we have a single page, wordless story. The story is stylistically and tonally the antithesis of “Alle Neine Neue Woerter Sind Libenmittel” in that the harsh reality from Kathryn Briggs is offset by the vibrancy and simplicity of Aufklarung.
Epigraph is by John Osbourn, with the art coming from Maximilian Meier. The Epigraph is deliciously illustrated with the setting and style perfectly matching the opulence of the story. The setting of the 1930’s melds perfectly with the characters, and the man in the gold hat is the epitome of joy.
Hyenas is a black and white story from the mind of John Osbourn, which has been scripted and illustrated by Tom Mortimer. Moving on from the bright and energetic Epigraph, the gritty vibe in Hyenas, really brings you back to the book. The art is stark, rough, while the story itself draws comparison between the predatory aspects of the Hyena and the hunter aspect of man.
In the penultimate story of this issue we have Texit by Simon Mackie. It has a similar aspect to the story by Kathryn Briggs, in that it echoes the events of Brexit (the British vote to extricate themselves from the European Union in June 2016) and applies that concept to Texas secession from the Union. The tale in Texit has a similar feel to Brexit in the manipulation of puppet political figures by a megalomaniacal media mogul, where the results gained provide a very different punchline to the one sold to the public.
In the final story of Sliced Quarterly we have The Ballad of Backwards Billy with a script by David Hailwood and the art by Brett Burbridge. The story is a fitting completion to the book, with a vivid reverse story with the eponymous reverse entity known as Backwards Billy. The forwards/backwards lettering is a nice touch that quickly loses its’ impact and becomes a little wearisome as the tale progresses. As the story reaches an unsettling conclusion, it is a very fitting end to the book.
However, there’s more! We have two small press previews from Rats & Crows Publishing – Sane6 by Rob Cannon, and Slime by Łukasz Kowalczuk. The taster for Sane6 delivers some delicious art from Rob Cannon, and a suitable morsel of story to engage the reader. The style is wonderful. The pages from Slime offer a very different feel to those in Sane6, but has a vibrant feel of its’ own.
Overall, Sliced Quarterly manages to encapsulate the varied feel of an anthology title, with a mix of different styles and stories. There are some absolute nuggets on display, however, the real high points are in those stories that parody and mimic the present unsettling political climate. For the likes of Kathryn Briggs wonderful story and Texit, this comic is elevated beyond mere entertainment into something more along the lines of utterly relevant, something necessary. This is where comics are truly art.