Review by Frank Plowright
Having edited one anthology concerning our relationship with technology in I Feel Machine, the Krent Able and Julian Hanshaw partnership now turn their attention to our relationships with each other. Again, both contribute a story and are accompanied by four other like-minded talents. Be warned, despite Able’s hilariously over the top introduction, their definition of love may not be yours.
Opener Benjamin Marra is an inspired selection, his art style very different from Able’s but sharing similar sensibilities in subverting the culture of the past, in this case via a shagging swamp monster. Anya Davidson blends depression, fan fiction and eventually Lovercraftian horror, which is a mixture you don’t read every day. Hanshaw is far more opaque than last time around, supplying the fate of the tormented and frustrated Paul, whose guilty desires involve his wife (sample art left). Cat Sims focuses on a pregnant woman whose hallucinatory experiences all relate to growth, symbolism rife concerning fear of the unknown (sample art right).
Each of those tales are connected not so much by an idea of love, but of people who’re lost, the approach to that ranging from the amusingly trivial on Marra’s part to the primal and disturbing, with the most emotionally intense contribution coming from Sims.
Wroten is possibly better known as an illustrator, although has graphic novels to her name, yet not looking like ‘The Anchor’. There’s a strange formalism to pages approximating coloured crayon telling of a woman with stigmata convinced she must repent for terrible deeds done. Is she hallucinating what follows in religious frenzy? Is it symbolism representing gender fluidity? Is it plain love of God? The lack of clarity makes this the most frustrating story.
That just leaves Able’s own contribution, ‘The Black Balloon’. Well… Let an amazingly talented artist immerse themselves in the deeply Christian conspiracy theorist’s fervid nightmares about Satanic activity in the technological age, then regurgitate that as a wish-fulfilling, retributive cinematic action thriller, and it about approaches Able’s pages. They’re purple ape in a flying tartan wheelchair bonkers, hilarious and ultra-violent. What does it have to do with love? That would be up to you. A love of bullets and button-pushing comes to mind.
With six stories in an anthology not everyone will enjoy everything, but open your mind to different experiences and moods and this is another quality package. Plus, there’s the idle joy of wondering what Able and Hanshaw’s next title might be. I Feel Unwell? I Feel Myself? I Feel Exisentialist?