Anthology comics are a distinctly tricky beast , the first issue of a regular comic will give a creative team 20 odd pages to sell their ideas,characters, world and story to a reader in the hopes that they will come back for more, anthologies on the other hand offer 5 or 6 pages.
Trying to capture a reader with only 5 or 6 pages isn’t easy, combine that with being collected with a bunch of other 5 or 6 page initial instalments of other stories and it’s easy to see why anthologies, aside from the established ones like long running British institution 2000AD and America’s Heavy Metal, are few and far between .
Acclaimed writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill wanted to change that and together with indie publisher Avatar (and a host of other well known names in the comics field) pitched Cinema Purgatorio via Kickstarter and promptly got considerably more than they asked for. The campaign goal was just over $9,000 but ended with over $110,000.
The success of the campaign shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise given Moore’s name is still one of the most recognisable and high profile in comics despite distancing himself from his earlier acclaimed works (like Watchmen and The Killing Joke) and now happily doing his own thing for years via various creative outlets. Moore has worked with Avatar on several occasions though, from his nightmarish Lovecraft inspired titles Neonomicon and its follow up of sorts the currently on-going Providence, to his take on Garth Ennis’ Crossed which took place in the future reworking Ennis’ original ideas.
Cinema Purgatorio consists of a brief intro story by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill in the style of old silent films and the first parts of four distinctly different stories by different creative teams,
Code Pru is blackly comical horror by Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres about Pru who joins the FDNY as a paramedic and ends up being assigned to a special unit that deals with various supernatural creatures living in modern day New York.
Whilst it’s not really clear where this will go it definitely has potential and Caceres’ detailed art definitely makes an impression.
Modded by Kieron Gillen and Ignacio Calero is a bit like a post apocalyptic nightmarish take on Pokemon which introduces the rather timid Fringe and Fluffbumble, the unhinged Tommy Zero and the badass Bloody Susan and Mister Boom.
Probably the best of the offerings here Gillen’s ideas together with Calero’s excellent art make for a good combination and it’s always good to have a new kickass female character. I can see Bloody Susan and Mister Boom becoming the iconic characters of Cinema Purgatorio. The characters here would make for great action figures/statues too because the designs are so great.
A More Perfect Union by Max Brooks and Michael DiPascale is an alternate take on 19th century American history.
Brooks’ story stands out because it’s so different to the other offerings here both setting and storywise and art wise. DiPascale’s art contrasts massively with the hyper detailed offerings elsewhere, not that it’s bad it’s just different and the story whilst is probably the least appealing initially could definitely have potential when it gets going.
The Vast by Christos Gage and Gabriel Andrade is a story about mankind fighting gigantic kaiju style creatures.
The Vast is the shortest offering here so has little space to work with but Andrade’s art definitely sells the appeal of giant creatures rampaging through cities as seen in classic monster movies like Godzilla and Pacific Rim.
Cinema Purgatorio is definitely worth checking out the stylistic approach to have black and white art throughout is interesting and reminds me of 2000AD in the early days. I’m curious as to what the future holds, hopefully this will be a hit for Avatar and have other creative teams approaching them with ideas for future stories to be included but only time will tell.