Debuting at Thought Bubble last year, Myths and Monsters is the second anthology to come from the Big Brown Eyes Collective which consists of the three Lambert sisters – Freya, Karis and Emily. The latter, of course, is one of our 2016 intake of the Broken Frontier ‘Six Small Press Creators to Watch’ and also featured in last year’s Thought Bubble Anthology Collection, published by Image Comics.
Myths and Monsters sees the trio bringing together legends of supernatural creatures from across the globe in comics form in a series of short adaptations that showcase their own very individual approaches to the subject matter. The stories range from traditional retellings to more contemporary takes on the subject matter, ensuring a welcome unpredictability from story to story.
Emily Lambert opens proceedings with the tale of Koschei the Deathless (below), a monstrous figure from Russian legend who plagues villages, kidnapping young women and spiriting them away. One resident is determined to rescue her sister from his clutches, though, and journeys to the villain’s lair to match wits with him, eventually seeing him undone by his own arrogance…
Employing Emily’s signature tight-panelled pages and condensed storytelling this is an excellent example of just how appealing her picture book-style images are in sequential form and her ever considered use of colour gives this five-pager an appropriately folkloric feel.
Emily also contributes a wordless story featuring the North American myth of the antelope/rabbit hybrid creature known as the Jackalope. Her ability to tell stories through visuals alone has impressed me immensely throughout her time as a “Six to Watch” creator here at BF and this entry underlines all the greatest strengths of her work: its delicate pacing, its careful panel-to-panel construction and her clear understanding of the narrative potential of this purest form of sequential art.
Karis Lambert adapts two legends in these pages – the underground mine-dwelling Celestial Stag from China (below left) and the vampiric Adze from Ewe folklore. The former’s atmospheric colouring evokes a nocturnal dreaminess and its playful use of panels to create a sense of claustrophobia is notable, while the page design of the latter – another wordless offering – is beautifully executed.
There are no less than three stories from Freya Lambert. The Greek Basilisk gets a lighthearted treatment as the unfortunate half-chicken/half-snake with a deadly gaze goes on an existential quest to discover its origins. She takes a similar approach to her look at Australian meteor spirit Namorrodor with plenty of pop cultural inserts as an ancient force tries to come to terms with the modern world.
It’s her two-page account of Japanese cat-creature Bakeneko (above right) that’s her most memorable piece, however, with a use of colour in portraying the title character that is at once both alluring and inviting and yet utterly terrifying, as befits the transformation of a loved pet into horrifyingly malevolent entity.
Of the three artists on show here it is apparent that while Emily has found her creative voice and is now approaching her work with an almost rhythmic confidence, Freya and Karis are still experimenting with their comics in terms of both approach and style. That, of course, is what self-publishing is all about and developing your craft in front of an audience is very much part of the experience. The trio have some big plans for the Big Brown Eyes Collective in 2017 including a new anthology that they’re inviting artists to submit to. You can find out more on their tumblr here.
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