Steve Taylor-Bryant finds himself in the grip of Mild Frenzy as he reads a comics collection by Iqbal Ali...
I love comic creators, they are the friendliest of people, and always get in touch with me to let me know about their work. Not always to cheekily request a review or anything, sometimes just because they are proud of what they’ve achieved and want others to know. I get lots of comics and collections sent and time is not my friend, so I tend to be very choosy when it comes to committing time to something. Usually I look for someone’s name, either I’ve been impressed by their work before or, in the case of Mild Frenzy Collection vol 1, I find I’ve never heard of anyone involved. I like new people. It means I probably won’t expect anything I’m about to experience and that pleases me. Which brings me to Iqbal Ali who sent me a copy of Mild Frenzy Collection vol 1, as he wrote all the stories contained within its pages.
There are twelve short stories in the collection, and a bonus thirteenth longer and previously published story, which I’ll come to at the end. All the stories are different, some science fiction, some a bit more horror based, but a common thread throughout many of them is memory. I’m not sure if that thread was purposely done or a happy accident but it ties the entire collection together well. The main thing I got from Mild Frenzy Collection vol 1 is that Iqbal Ali has a similar twisted sense of humour to my own and that means that, regardless of the chosen artist, I am getting something from each story that I will find highly appealing. And in the main I do, personal favourites include Moving Ears, the opening story about a physical tick that leads to bullying but you find out later a medical twist that made me laugh more than was probably appropriate, Organism 42B which is a great spin on the base under siege type of tale, Excuses which was just crazy and brilliant in equal measure, and Crocodile Wings that, whilst showing the utter devastation and carnage that would occur if crocodiles could really fly, also has one panel that shows that some mindless corporate type would find a way on cashing in that cracked me up. The Vine started as a slice of science fiction, a plant that grows from the earth to the moon but turns out to be a beautiful love story, and Long Drive was an interesting concept that I would like to see play out in a longer format.
As with all collections not everything was for me. Life would be boring if that happened wouldn’t it? The Questioning did nothing for me, although the art by Mario Manno was nice, and I just didn’t understand Shrinkwrapped at all, but that’s fine I need things that challenge me, that make me realise I still have lots to learn. The artists involved in Mild Frenzy Vol 1 are Aleksandar Bozic, Franstev Yevgeniy, Priscilla Grippa, Mario Manno, and Dima Blue, and all have a different style for a reader to like. Bozic does most of the stories and its cartoony tinge to some panels really suit the material he develops, but it was the pencil drawing style of Priscilla Grippa on Catalogs that really grabbed my attention. That is an artist to keep an eye on.
The collection finishes with The Other Side, a longform story that as I mentioned before was previously published by Ali but, as with his introduction to the piece, I agree that it works well within this collection. He also apologises for his artwork as he did the pencilling for the story but no apologies necessary as they are great, and the grayscaling by Dima Blue is stunning and beautifully done. The story intrigues, it entertains and saddens in equal measure but, most importantly to me as a reader, it shows that writers involved in short collections can also seriously impress over the longer form and I will definitely keep an out for all involved, but especially Iqbal Ali for his way to tell a story and Priscilla Grippa whose artistic style warms my heart.
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