Alterna Comics reminds us monsters come in all shapes and sizes in this wonderfully eclectic and creep-filled showcase of top-notch indie talent.
Reborn in the recent explosion of crowdfunded self-publishing ventures, the oft-misunderstood yet somehow always-welcome comics anthology has enjoyed something of a renaissance of late, thanks in large part to small publishers such as Alterna Comics, whose latest compilation is designed to scare the bejeezus out of its audience. The brainchild of Phil McClorey and Brian Evinou, Monstrosity is a rollicking, manic exploration of monsters in all of their gloriously creepy permutations.
Drawing on a deep pool of indie talent recruited from across the globe, Monstrosity’s loose framework allows its creators ultimate freedom to approach their shared theme from a variety of unexpected angles and genres. From patently absurd satire and delightful humorous riffs on accepted horror archetypes to truly shocking grotesques designed to challenge our perception of what we consider monstrous, all of the tales compiled by McClorey and Evinou illuminate the secret kernel of truth hiding at the core of all monsters: that they are born of us, of our ignorance, of our need for self-empowerment. Whether through humor, blockbuster action, or cautionary twist, Monstrosity is a compendium of human foibles and tragic flaws that inevitably give life to our monsters.
As with all anthologies, there are some stories that hit the bull’s eye dead center and others that seem to miss the mark entirely and while Monstrosity has a few clunkers, virtually the entire book retains a remarkably consistent high watermark for quality storytelling. One gets the feeling a few more panels or pages and those aforementioned clunkers wouldn’t feel so clipped and rushed. Overall though, Monstrosity enjoys exceptionally high craftsmanship across the board. Standouts include: James Turner and Noel Tuazon’s funny and literal twist on the phrase “dog eat dog world,” “The Boggart”; Kristopher Waddell and Toma Feizon Gas’ atmospheric and original tale of Arctic terror, “The Refuge”; and the refreshingly tender tale of monster love by Ricky Lima and Rodrigo Bravo, “Stones on the Shore”.
Built on a foundation of consistently solid storytelling by some of the independent arena’s most talented creators, Monstrosity unique thematic tone, combining humor and horror, illuminates the darkest corners of the human condition with tongue firmly placed in cheek and a cold, clawed hand clutching our spines.
Various (W), Various (A) • Alterna Comics, $14.99, August 2013.