A review of the new small press comic, The Great Unknown #1
Usually, the Introduction to a book or novel is skipped over by the masses. However, the Introduction to The Great Unknown is something that is insightful and informative, explaining what the nonprofit company Small Batch Comics is all about. The company aims to provide unknown comic creators a way to be exposed and published without the help of big comic companies. This seems like an obvious idea because of the self-publishing opportunities for more traditional novelists and indie musicians that already are established. For the world of comics however, this is a somewhat novel idea. Everyone who is into web comics has their favorite sites, but if one of those artists wanted to publish a collection of their works they would have to rely on larger companies to offer their services. Small Batch Comics aims to help bring the work of amazing writers to the masses for little to no cost, and that is an opportunity that has a lot of support from the community.
The Great Unknown is an anthology of 8 short stories varying in theme and drawing style. It starts off with a bang in the first story A Twelve Minute Revolution in Just Reading, by Darren Hupke & Vincent Tang. That is more than an expression; literally, the story’s first panel has the word “bang” in giant letters, which is probably why the editor chose it to start off the anthology. Other than the humorous start, which has more to do with the anthology than the story itself, it isn’t nearly as exciting a start as one would have hoped. A lot happens in regards to plot, including multiple gunshots, a Nazi, questionable science and an unknown villain that is referred to only by name. However, there is no connection with the characters to draw the reader in. There is clearly a lot of backstory missing that would otherwise connect the events that unfold for the reader. Mostly it just ends up being confusing and ends as suddenly as it starts, making it feel like a chapter in a larger story rather than something that stands alone to introduce the reader to something they may be interested in.
In contrast, Soupe Aux Champignons by Blas Bigatti & AntonioHG, was much more interesting and humorous and by far my personal favorite. This story is a fantasy about deep space travel, and a character being sent on a mission to a distant planet. The humor and plot are both driven by the events that happen on this particular mission that doesn’t go exactly as planned. It’s interesting, funny, and shocking at the same time. All in all, a recipe for something very entertaining.
In between each of the stories is a transition comic that is a little wacky and humorous, portraying various fake products in an older advertisement style that you would see in an old Life magazine. This is probably the best part of the anthology and was a good way to reset the reader between stories in a fun and non-traditional way. Each of the comics had a different theme, ranging from Nazis to a trip to the zoo. Although some of the stories were more entertaining or engaging than others, it is overall a good start to what hopefully will be a recurring publication of talented writers and illustrators. With such a wide range of themes and illustration styles, it’s worth at the very least getting your own copy and judging which one of the comics is your favorite.
3.5 out of 5 stars.