Shades of Grey

Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2005
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Shades of Grey Creator(s): Jay Bonney, George Bailey, Jenns Altman, Lee Robert Hunter, Rhys Ap Gwyn
Publishers: 430 Comics (Self Published)
From: UK
Price: £1(UK)

A new anthology from the United Kingdom, and this rather slim first issue contains a eclectic mix of stories. Anthologies that mix things up make for more of a bargain when for the the price of one idea they provide a whole bunch of stories. The problem is that they are a pain to review. Short one or two page stories such as Wednesday by George Baily could easily be spoiled by a review that tries to describe what's going on: it's only one page and could be quoted in a short sentence. Vague reviews such as "disturbing subject matter given an imaginative treatment" seem pointless.

The longer stories are easier to comment on. Never Ending Battle by Jay and George is a mildly amusing chronicle of a super-hero and villain's continuing clashes over their lifetimes. The "punch-line" tries for big laughs but only gets a few chuckles.

Slightly more amusing is Cyborg Assault Hampsters by James and Lee. The title gives away the joke but readers should still find the silliness of combining cute little furry animals with mass destruction hard to resist, and Lee's goofy looking hamsters sure are hilarious to look at.

The third, and longer story Growing Pains by Jay and Rhys is a slightly creepy tale. Tashia, a cute 16 year old girl is starting to hang out with boys and here dominating father doesn't like it one little bit. Not only does he start issuing ultimatums sure to be meet with opposition by any teenager, but he takes some rather extreme and mystical actions to insure things go his way. The manga influences in the art artwork, with it's big eyes and angular construction, presents the young characters well, but fails to make the adults look adult. Some of the line work has been reproduced too thin, so objects a people lack weight on the page. In contrast, George uses lots of grey and blacks in the stories he has illustrated. His pieces are full of energy, and he is able to present characters of a range of ages.

The mix of throwaway humour and creepy subject matter make this anthology a rather jarring read. Growing pains might have been better of in a stand alone title. The collection seems like it the editor ran out of submissions but rushed to get the few things received printed. Waiting for a few more pages might have been a better idea.

In a Word: Disjointed.

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