by Andy Bloor
Self-published [available online]
B&W / £6
Review by Tom Mortimer
Andy-thology is an anthology by comic artist Andy Bloor (see what he did there?), collecting his short stories and pin-up work. With Bloor on visuals, the script work is assigned to an array of celebrated talent; including Kieron Gillen, Leah Moore & John Reppion, and Mo Ali.
When I think of horror comics, I usually think of 1950s era titles like Tales of the Crypt or The Vault of Horror. Those beautifully defined sensationalist images of axe murderers, decomposing corpses, screaming victims and the like emanating from their covers and burning into our retinas. Inside, the visuals followed a similar directive, but their bold line work and glaring colour schemes often fought off a sea of substantial text.
This is where Andy-thology comes in. Bloor re-animates the strength of that gratuitous and at times depraved imagery, but applies some excellent contemporary refinement. The impact comes from his stark use of predominantly black and white inking, combined with a subtle, background defining use of grey tone outs. The eye is drawn to where it needs to move, but the journey there holds equal investment. That clear display of effort gives Bloor’s work an undefinable sense of reward – details aren’t always necessary but the gain here is that where the creator clearly cares, the reader feels a bit more obliged to follow. All these stories are shorts, but you can feel the time put into them and that adds another level of depth.
This methodology leads to another strength of the Andy-thology; each story occupies about five or six pages, and in that ‘time’ they deliver a short tale across a few panels, with a very sparse use of text. This pacing acts as a counterweight to the detail, allowing the stories room to breathe. I haven’t seen the scripts themselves, but from the way it reads I’d say that every writer Bloor has collaborated with here clearly knows and respects him; they’ve allowed for that creative space in the writing, and know he will deliver on it. And he does.
Storywise, my personal favourite was The Men Who Built The West, because I’m not usually interested in Westerns yet the ending caught me so off guard as to make me spill a cup of tea all over my desk.
After all this praise, I feel arm twisted into making some criticism. I would say that occasionally some of Bloor’s proportions are out in a more noticeable sense but – to be honest – it doesn’t detract from the work and actually plays out as an extension of his style.
The black and white also ties everything together, but where some pin-up work suggests Bloor’s talent for using colour, a part of me does wonder what some of the strips here would have been like with the addition of that extra dimension.
To wrap up; the concept for this collection seems fairly casual, but the payoff is a publication that lays out a weighted statement of ability. Although the anthology carries Bloor’s name, this is also a testament to the work of others, and the time he has granted them.
Andy Bloor is a gift to the small press community.