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Stumptown Comics Fest Review: UNKNOWN ORIGINS & UNTIMELY ENDS Anthology


“Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends: A Collection of Unsolved Mysteries,” is a comics anthology, edited by Emi Gennis. As comics anthologies go, this one knocks it out of the park. It is consistently good, full of satisfying surprises, and it’s as if all the contributors gathered together, held hands, and zoned into something awesome. This is not always the case but it sure is here. The theme is true to its title in every way.

"The Lead Masks" by J.T. Yost

“The Lead Masks” by J.T. Yost

Organized into two subcategories of the strange and spooky, one group of cartoonists take on the subject of “Unknown Origins” while the other takes on the subject of “Untimely Ends.” What sets this book up there with the best anthologies is how dedicated everyone is to all the details. So, how did this man come to die without any ID and an eerie connection to the book of poetry, “The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám”? That’s the opener, “The Unknown Man of Somerton Beach,” by Nikki DeSautelle, that lets us know right away that we’re in good hands. Drawn in a strikingly spare style, it leads you into the next story, an environmental mystery, “Goo,” by Jason Bradshaw, and then an urban myth, “The Monster with 21 Faces,” by Aaron Whitaker. And so on, one style of cartooning blending into the next, all held together by a unified vision.

"Aokigahara Forest" by Jenn Woodall

“Aokigahara Forest” by Jenn Woodall

This is first comics anthology for Hic & Hoc Publications and we certainly look forward to many more.

"The Dyatlov Pass Incident" by Emi Gennis

“The Dyatlov Pass Incident” by Emi Gennis

The anthology showcases 34 cartoonists, all working at their full potential.

"Dark Forces" by Lizz Lunney

“Dark Forces” by Lizz Lunney

Good work, Emi Gennis, on editing this remarkable anthology. Visit Emi’s website here.

“Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends: A Collection of Unsolved Mysteries” released on April 23 at Floating World Comics. The party continues at Stumptown Comics Fest this weekend, April 27-28. It’s a wonderful example of what you’ll find at this gem of a gathering of comics talent. If you’re in PDX, you will want to go. I’ll see you there. Visit the Stumptown Comics Fest website here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Independent Comics, Indie, PDX, Portland, Stumptown Comics Fest


“GINGERBREAD GIRL” is one of those very satisfying graphic novels that Top Shelf Productions does so well. The talents of artist Colleen Coover and writer Paul Tobin create this delightful exploration into the life of a mysterious young woman, Annah Billips, as she struggles with issues of self and inner self.

Coover’s art is so inviting that the characters will have you at hello. With such delicate yet confident lines, Coover brings to life Annah, a spitfire who may stumble but who gets what she wants whether it is a boy or a girl or all the sympathy in the world from everyone she encounters whether it be a convenience store clerk, a small time magician, a pigeon or a bulldog. And, throughout, we get a taste of Portland, Oregon. PDX is as much a character as any other here. There’s the hipster world to contend with, like the latest penis art at the local gallery as well as relaxing walks through familiar parks and streets.

Chili Brandals is the young woman in love with Annah Billips. She let her hair grow into an afro all for the sake of Annah, who loves afros. She doesn’t really know where she stands with Annah but she’s happy to keep trying. “Throw bread crumbs at pigeons and they’ll flock to you in droves. Throw a bread loaf at them and they’ll scatter.” This is part of Chili’s explanation for why she doesn’t push Annah on answers to questions that Annah probably couldn’t answer anyway. Chili dismisses her analogy on keeping some mystery in a relationship. It’s actually quite nice. Paul Tobin has worked his magic with his writing and tapped into the bittersweet of young love.

As with many a young romance, Chili and Annah take a long time in establishing their relationship only to find that it is most likely doomed to end. So, despite all the searching for Annah’s secret twin, the story is essentially about Chili and Annah. Will they make it in the long run? Will Chili at least help Annah through her current crisis? Well, they’ll always have Portland and the silly magician and that year they searched for the Gingerbread Girl.

You can read this comic over at the Top Shelf site and you can totally own the book too. It’s a very nice fancy bound trade, 112 pages, for only $12.95, or get your own handy digital copy. Check it out!

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Filed under Colleen Coover, Comics, graphic novels, Paul Tobin, Top Shelf Productions