Panel: Architecture

Edited by Tony Goins, Tim Fischer, and Dara Naraghi
40 pages, black and white
Published by Ferret Press

Sometimes all it takes is one story in an anthology to catch my attention. That was the case with Ferret Press’s Panel: Architecture, a comic with stories all around the theme of architecture. When I saw it had one of my favorite unsung creators, well, I certainly had to take a look at the whole book. It just goes to show, all you really need is that one hook to bring the reader on board.

Andy Bennett’s opener, “Weight”, was the initial lure for me. Bennett’s brushwork evokes the perfect mood for the story, with its dark strokes bringing to mind hazy memories of an earlier time, one the narrator is almost afraid to focus on too closely. It’s a simple little story, one that moves quickly towards its conclusion but is careful to make its desired impact.

The rest of the book is a little more varied in tone and quality. “Rooftop Philosophy” by Dara Naraghi and Adrian Barbu is the strongest of the rest of the entries, with two criminals making their getaway on the top of a building. Barbu’s art is extremely attractive, with its thin lines and facial expressions that reminds one a lot of Guy Davis’s artwork. Naraghi’s story likewise doesn’t belabor the point, the perfect length for a fun (if slightly predictable) story. Tom Williams’s “Columbine” has a lot of potential, and while his graytoned art with its quirky expressions and designs is a lot of fun, his shifting between narration boxes and word balloons is a little frustrating, as Williams sets up and then breaks the rules for identifying who’s speaking.

The other entries in the book are unfortunately a little disappointing. Naraghi’s other story in Panel: Architecture, “Bringing Down the House” with art by Tim Fischer, is an extreme example of a fluff story. There’s almost nothing to it, an attempt at slapstick that falls flat on its face to amuse. Ultimately, there’s nothing funny about it, feeling contrived to the extreme. Even more frustrating in some ways is Tony Goins’s and Steve Black’s “City of Bridges”, which starts off with a story about a city on hard times, and then suddenly turns into flashbacks of fighter planes over Manchuria. The entire story feels like one massive non-sequitur, with the attractive art by Black likewise degenerating as it progresses. I’m not sure what these creators were trying to do here, but it doesn’t seem to come together.

In the end, there are definitely more positives than negatives with Panel: Architecture. It’s a clever little theme for a book, with the contents showing how one can approach it from the serious (memories of a traumatic event in a childhood home) to the ludicrous (a pornstar’s wacky shenanigans at a spa). I’ll certainly keep my eyes open for further Panel anthologies from Ferret Press; this first one has proven that they’re someone to watch.

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