Top Shelf #5

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2000
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Top Shelf #5 Creator(s): Various
Publishers: Top Shelf
From: USA

Dating from 1997, this collection sat in a local comic shop for over 3 years gathering dust. At NZ $17.95 it was a bit pricey, just over half the cost of a new CD. Was the cost the reason no one had taken it home until I spied it in a sale bin, marked down to NZ$2?

The cover by Pat Moriaty does its best to sell the contents; it's a playful color cartoon of a city made up of animate buildings which are smiling, spitting, smoking cigars and sticking their tongues out at the inconsequential human residents.

The format is a slightly odd sized trade paperback, nicely put together but it's not going to fit in with any of the books on your shelf or your comic collection without destroying any anal-retentive harmony you may have imposed on your reading material.

Inside we find a mix of 21 creators' work, every kind of small press style is on display. It is mostly black and white though one strip gets the orange and black and white treatment. A few of the creators I recognize, such as James Kochalka, K Thor Jensen, Gavin Burrows (From England). The remainder I don't know from a bar of drunken office workers.

We get a couple of pages of biographical information about the artists, but as it is the unfortunate victim of some plain daft graphic design jiggery pokery it come off looking nice but made my brain hurt when I tried to read it.

Plot wise, well sad to funny, weird to somber, it is all here so you are sure to find something to your fancy. So there is much to recommend it, but the mystery remains, why didn't anyone else want it? Perhaps it didn't try very hard to gain an audience. The mix of styles and especially the editorial text preaches to the converted, the little club of readers who knows everyone in here and has read their work. If you arn't a member of the club, you needs you!

Well, with no sale, it was probably the store who took a loss on this one and I would guess they didn't order any of #6

In a Word: Insular.

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