Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday Revue May 14: The Ladybugs Anthology

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Hey lads and ladies, a lovely little comic anthology was released just this Wednesday, and I was given a sneak peek into the works. This collection is the creation of the Ladybugs, AKA the Los Angeles Women's Comic Creators League. Comprising 15 stories and coming in at a whopping 119 pages, it's a charming romp through the many worlds these ladies imagine. It can be bought here, and if you're in the LA area, here's a link to learn more about the group and the release party for their premiere anthology; could be fun!

The Rating

A few stumbles, but not at all a bad performance

The Raves

There really are some gems in this anthology. In my case, I'll put in a split vote for best in the anthology between 'Bounty Hunter Space Besties', a story of bounty hunters who find something much, much more dangerous than the drugs shipment they were hunting for,
 and 'Orion', an excellent and touching exploration of raising a child in a post-apocalyptic world.
But there's quite a few gems in this anthology, from the candid sweetness of 'Playdate' to the laugh out loud imagery and very relatable emotions of 'Test Day'
The art of a number of the included pieces is impressive; Angelica McLaughlin's sketches will make you feel cheerful all day, for instance, and Christine Hipp does gorgeously clean and expressive linework as well as wonderful storytelling that is surprisingly thought-provoking. I really enjoyed these pieces; they explored the entire gamut of the human experience, including the mundane, the divine and the messy bits. 

The Razzes

Er...ladies? It's fun to get your friends together and work on something, but I'd really think twice about including sub-par art just because a friend did it. When sub-par work is mixed with high-class art, both pieces suffer; one by association and the other by comparison. The anthology would have been all the better for cutting things like 'Predator and Prey' and 'The Struggle Is Real', which look less like finished anthology pieces than doodles done in a spare moment. 'The Rainbow Bridge' obviously had some work and some thought behind it, but the art just couldn't support the story and really should not have been included in something that people are buying.
I was actually on the fence even on the first work in the anthology, and that's a bad thing; impatient readers will drop a book if the first few pages of art do not intrigue. The next time you do an anthology Ladybugs, I recommend putting your best foot forward and putting one of your most experienced artists in the first-story slot. It'll go a long way towards upping your reader retention.  Leading with work like 'Manifest' might be a nice gesture, but it isn't going to impress anyone.
I'd really like to see the editor ride her creators a little more in story design as well. Quite a few of these stories have little or no resolution, and leave the reader feeling mildly cheated and confused. Anthology stories should be whole in their entirety. They really shouldn't say 'to be continued', and they shouldn't feel like they have 'to be continued' tattooed on their heads either.

The Revue

I'd definitely read it, but I might buy the digital copy rather than the print. Great first try Ladybugs, you'll do even better next time!

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