Four Stories

Comic journalist Chris Arrant, like so many, also wants to write comics. To promote his work in that area, he’s created Four Stories, a minicomic containing just that.

It’s an admirable effort, the kind of promotional piece more should attempt. I’m concentrating here on things I thought could be improved, because that’s how I think.

Four Stories

“Integral”, illustrated by Matt Bayne (Knights of the Shroud), revolves around a fight after an attempted purse-snatching. I was left slightly confused by what was supposed to have happened, and I would have enjoyed the piece more if more had been done with the father/daughter relationship (perhaps in parallel with the mother/son) and less with the violence. A three-page fight scene seems too much in a story that’s only six pages, unless it’s intended as an showcase of the artist’s skill in staging a fight.

“Passenger”, illustrated by Joanna Estep, has terrific art but is more of a brief character sketch than a story. There’s no change or movement, only an incident. It’s also too familiar to anyone who’s read slice-of-life indy comics, with a sad sack moping around after his girlfriend left.

“Snowblind”, illustrated by Jessica Hickman, wants to be a Twilight Zone-like piece about two people who hate each other trapped together in the snow. It has a surprising twist ending, but unlike most TZ stories, it falls apart if you think about it, with too many unanswered questions. (Were they always there? If not, how did they get there and when did the transition happen?) The shaded art is very attractive, though.

“Stuart”, illustrated by Eric Adams (Lackluster World), establishes an interesting situation, an unknown but likable kid in a hospital fitting into routine the best he can, but like the previous tale, it doesn’t answer the questions it raises. Like the second piece, it’s more of a character incident than a story.

As a whole, the book is a decent portfolio piece, although perhaps not for the reasons intended. It demonstrates Arrant’s ability to put a project together in an attractive package and select talented co-creators, as well as his wide range of ideas. The flaws he demonstrates — room to improve his skill with a short page count, an inability to distinguish between a story with an ending and a character sketch — are common throughout big-company comics today, so he’s not necessarily at a disadvantage there. I’d like to see Arrant commit to a longer project, such as an original graphic novel, to demonstrate how capable he is with expanded space and allow him to create plots, not just characters.


3 Responses to “Four Stories”

  1. Chris Arrant Says:

    Thanks for reviewing the piece, Johanna. The lamented PDF of the book was supposed to be on Newsarama, but for one reason or another it never happened. I’m working with another site to get it up in the near future. I’ll alert you when it’s available.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Please do — I’d love for people to get a chance to see it for themselves.

  3. No Formula: Stories From the Chemistry Set » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] recognized the names and thought the title was intriguing. How surprised I was to realize I’d reviewed it before in Arrant’s minicomic collection of his work. […]

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