Off the Racks: Quality Anthology–Awesome 2

I’d been to Quimby’s books a grand total of never in my prior 28 years, and yet I feel I’m in there every week now. This week’s work-related boredom lead me out onto the mean streets of Chi-town on break. I was looking for Neil Brideau’s Sock Monster collection [see last article], but sadly they were out. I did pick up his mini comic “Spitting Pennies,” but I’d like to talk about another item I picked up: “Awesome 2—Awesomer,” published by Top Shelf Comics. This is the second of an anthology series put together by the hosts of the podcast Indie Spinner Rack. I’m not familiar with the show, but after reading this anthology and talking to my best bud Neil, I will definitely start. The book really has some top talent, so let’s dive right in.

Jeff Lemire starts the book with a great cowboy short and he’s followed by great stories by Fred van Lente/Ryan Dunlavey, Andy Jewett, and Jim Rugg. I have to admit it was a tough task to try to top Lemire’s unique style and wordless story telling of an aging cowboy. Van Lente does a comical aging story as well concerning a racist superhero, which came close, and Rugg did an always-great Afrodisiac short. Of the new-to-Jon talent in the book, there are some real gems too. Like most anthologies without a theme, the stories range from funny to weird to creepy to whatever. I really liked the story of the afterlife by John Henry Bergin, “Ticket to Ride.” It was about a Purgatory-like place where you use amusement ride tickets to relive past events before you move onto oblivion. On the lighter side, my favorite was probably Marcos Perez with “Bum Prom.” For reasons unexplained, a dinosaur-looking guy is going to prom and gets sidetracked into a dance-off with a bum for the heart of a bum princess. I also really enjoyed the series of 4-5 one-page monster movie spoofs by Chuck Forsman. He basically puts characters like Dracula and the Mummy in real life situation, such as the “Mummy CEO.”

I’m sure it’s said a lot about anthologies, but there really is something for everyone in “Awesome 2.” There’s obscene, funny, gross, parody, religious, fantasy, and a whole lot more. I should have prefaced this by saying; I am not historically a huge anthology fan and have only really read a half dozen or so. Nowadays I feel they are a good break from the world of “convoluted comics history,” as my friend/artist Bobgar would say. There’s even a free 24-page mini-comic in the back to go with the 208 pages of content (about $15 for the whole shebang). It should be noted that 25% of the income goes to a donation for the Center for Cartoon Studies. So, give this one a try. There’s a story called “Retarded Boners.” I know you are sold now.

Jon does a weekly Web comic here on Osmosis called Apocalypse Meh, has a band called Anti-Hero (www.myspace.com/antihero815), acts like an idiot for Fight Fire with Aurthur Films, he’s on two podcasts and frequently posts at www.11oclockcomics.com. If he remembers her, sometimes he sees his wife.

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