Happy Comics Release Day!
I have an unusual comic this week. The Gathering Volume 1 is a collection of short stories rather than a single narrative. It’s also written and illustrated by people you’ve likely never heard of before but hopefully will again.
The idea for The Gathering arose on the Jinxworld forums, the message board hosted by prolific comics writer Brian Bendis. It’s sort of the sequential art equivalent of “hey, we have a barn and Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, so let’s up on a show!”
I’m glad that they followed through because they produced some excellent work.
The fourteen black-and-white stories in this collection are very short, only two pages long. They’re loosely centered on the idea of hope. The final cover (unlike the image above) includes “The Thing With Feathers” which is from an Emily Dickinson poem called “Hope” that begins with “hope is the thing with feathers.”
The styles of the stories vary widely and so do the concepts, from very realistic settings to superheroes but the compliment each other despite such diverse work.
What Kids Will Like About It:
One of the stories in this, “Better Days, Part 1” and “Better Days, Part 2” are written by Liam and Ethan Goletz, brothers who are ages seven and nine, and illustrated by Michael Lapinski. Not only is it a nice story with a strong emotional hook at the end but I think kids will get a kick out of reading something written by someone their own age or younger. There’s also a very effective use of images in a story about Little League called “Tommy” by Aaron Bir and Joshua Mote.
What Parents Will Like About It:
Short stories are hard to write, even in prose. Two pages of sequential art is even harder, at least to my reader’s eye. I think all the stories were quality but there are two that hit me emotionally and will stay with me. One simply called “Hope” by Evan Valentine and Sam Tung that has such a sadness to it and “Wedding Wishes” by Nabeel Arshad and Chris Maze, with colors by Caliz Vincent, because it made me laugh.
Gail Simone, who has a message board hosted by Bendis, put together an extensive review of the collection that’s not only a great recap of the comic but also has tremendous advice for anyone seeking to write comics.
For a fuller story of how the book came together, try this detailed blog post over at The Gathering site.
Emboldened by the success of their first volume, they’re already putting together more and are open to submissions for those, in case you have any ambitions similar to the impulse that created this comic in the first place.