321 Fast Comics Review

0
Posted February 19, 2015 by Josh McCullough in Comic Books

Written by: Various

Art by: Various

Publisher: Timberwood Entertainment

I’m a huge fan of anthology stories, let’s start with that; shows like The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected are big hits with me. Therefore, when I was contacted by Felipe Cango about his graphic novel 321 Fast Comics I was very intrigued. The book has a very interesting hook, every story must contain 3 pages, have no more than 2 characters and at least 1 twist ending (oh that’s where the title’s from!) with the stories ranging from funny to action packed to sad to shocking and anywhere you can imagine. There’s a wild variety of talent which leads to a very creative and interesting package.

What first struck me about the book was the central theme that kept every story together; a bar. That’s not to say every story features a bar or some connective tissue, far from it, each story has different writers and a different artist on each story (all of whom happen to be from Brazil, where the book was first published) with wildly different styles, however throughout the entire book the idea is brought up that you’re a patron of a bar overhearing these stories from other customers. This is achieved through the books design, with the cover showcasing a bar scene, the contents page being a drink’s menu and even different recipes for drinks showing up between the stories. It’s a great design choice that gives the package a complete and consistent feeling while not being so intrusive as to deny the stories their own wild and creative identities.

Panda_002

“A Panda’s True Love” by Felipe Cango (w) and Vitor Caffagi (w/a)

The stories themselves are fantastic, out of a total of twenty-one there was only one that didn’t really gel with me, but all the rest ranged from good to fantastic, an impressive feet in such an eclectic mix of stories. What impressed me most was how diverse these stories could be given the constraints placed on them, taking place in different times, worlds and even hitting big themes like love, religion and what it means to be human. The first story for example threw me in at the deep end and featured giant monsters and tense action, then the next was a cutesy tale about a baby chasing its lost balloon. I don’t want to spoil the details of any of the stories but suffice to say there is a great  deal of imagination on display and it’s hugely entertaining to see how each story will interpret and rise to the challenge of telling condensed tales.

sky1

“SkyFree” by Guilherme Bon and Carlos Ruas (w/a)

Another interesting feature of the writing was how each story presented its “twist” in different ways. As stated (and as the book sets out in its mission statement) the stories can be funny, sad, scary or shocking in their own right and this is reflected in how the different twists are done. My favourite type of stories ended up being the funny ones such as “A Panda’s True Love”. These quick fire set-ups and punch lines proved to be an effective way of telling a complete story in three pages, however the other styles are equally effective. What makes these stories work in the short space in their open-endedness; some of the more ambitious in scope stories serve more as snippets of a larger tale, as the book describes, it is a tale only heard in passing. This isn’t to say they feel incomplete however, they all give you a solid start, middle and end but leave it to the reader to fill in some of the larger details of the world or to fill in what happened before or after the story, such as the ambiguous ending of “Solitude”. It’s a great way to work around the page limit and give the book great reread value as you can try and look at the stories from a new angle.

Wager_001

“A Gentlemen’s Wager” by Felipe Cango/Marcos Botelho (w) and Wilton Santos (a)

For me however, the biggest draw of the book is its art, and man is it beautiful. What amazes me most is that in a collection with twenty-one different stories and therefore artists, not one of them fails or looks bad, it’s all magnificent. The artists have some big names peppered among them, as all have at one point or another worked for Marvel, DC, Image or Dark Horse, so the art truly feels like A-list stuff.  Each time I finished the story I was hungry to read the next one just to see what the art would be like, as no two sequential stories ever felt the same, leading to a great sense of joy and discovery at every page turn. Sometimes the art is realistic and gorgeous, other times it’s charming and stylish, either way each artist really brings their A-game and lends each story a tremendous personality. Given how many artists contributed to the book, I can’t possibly list them all, so instead I’ve put some of their work throughout the review to give you a sense of the variety on show here. Hopefully it’ll encourage you to check the book out.

thefuture

“What Makes Us Human?” by Felipe Cango (w) and Thony Silas (a)

Overall, this is a fantastic and stylish collection which I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comic lover, as there’s surely something you’ll find to enjoy. The only real negative things I could say about the book are problems with any anthology showcase; not all the stories will hit with every reader so what you get out of the book will vary, but there should surely be something everyone can enjoy in this collection. Other than one story not really affecting me and two stories having very similar endings (yet still being great in their own right) there’s still far more variety and content than seems possible with such a focused premise. This is a really interesting experiment in comics that got me thinking about how we tell stories and just how much great storytelling can be achieved in comics. It’s a collection I can definitely see myself diving back into.

flat1

“Flatmates” by Felipe Cango (w) and Matias Streb (a)

Felipe is currently trying to kickstart the book to bring it to the US, while the project has met its goal it’s not too late to get yourself a copy (which you really should) on their Kickstarter page. I’ve also been told that a second issue is already in development with even bigger names like Ivan Reis and Joe Prado on board, something that really excited me after seeing the quality of this collection. Reading this book has certainly been a unique and fun joy, I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.


About the Author

Josh McCullough

A writer at WTN Josh is a huge comic fan whose tastes edge towards the strange and surreal. If there's one thing he loves more than comics then it's Doctor who. Never try and argue with him that there's a better doctor than Sylvester McCoy. Any fedoras that would make good press hats should be sent to his PO Box.