Three #1

By Eric Orner, Joey Alison Sayers, and Robert Kirby
32 pages, color
Published by Rob Kirby Comics

Long-time readers will know I’m a fan of a good comics anthology. It doesn’t have to be overly long; Greg Means’s Papercutter, after all, proves on a regular basis that you can have a three-story collection and still end up strong. I was fairly psyched, as a result, to find the debut issue of Robert Kirby’s new anthology Three waiting for me in my mailbox recently. Based on this initial line-up of creators, I think there’s finally another regular anthology comic for me to look forward to.

The opening story of Three is from Eric Orner, probably best known for his comic strip The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green. I’ve only seen Orner’s work there, which is a strange and quirky little soap opera that always left me amused but slightly befuddled at the same time. His story "Weekends Abroad," as a result, is a huge revelation in terms of what else Orner can do. His autobiographical story of going to Israel for a three-month job that has extended to two years and counting draws you into the plot almost instantly; he opens it with a brief sequence explaining how he got kicked out Hebrew School as a child, and goes from there to show us how he’s fumbling through life in a country where he can’t read or speak the official language.

Watching him drift through life in Israel veers between funny and sad; he’s trying to make due the best he can, but you end up with an overwhelming sense of him being alone and slightly lonely. He goes to the beach by himself, gets talked him going to a bar with his boss frequented by 23-year olds (and then promptly abandoned), and even his attempt at a hook-up goes badly. Orner’s story of being far away from the world he knows is more than just a physical distance, but rather an emotional one as well. It’s helped in part by Orner’s art, which uses tiny lines and details to create a strange, cramped world that Orner is penned in by. It’s only when Orner gets lost that you start feeling like, visually, he’s letting himself escape his surroundings; his wandering down darkened streets and alleys starts to feel almost like home instead of an odd locale. I must admit I’d forgotten all about Orner the past few years, but now I’m hoping we get more comics from him soon.

Joey Alison Sayers is next with "Number One," a quick story about Sayers and her landscaping co-workers on a new job where Sayers makes a critical mistake: asking to use the bathroom from the client. It’s short and sweet, but it made me laugh, both at the reaction from the client, and then from Sayers and her friends. Sayers plays up the humor, but at the same time there are flashes into her life which keep the story from being entirely one note; her thinking about the nature of her job and needing to find a new one, or the process she has to go through to use a client’s bathroom, make it that much more realistic. Sayers’s art is stripped down and adorable, with big mouths showing off jagged teeth, and little pinholes for eyes. It’s a fun story.

The book concludes with a story from editor Kirby, and "Freedom Flight" is the most serious piece in the comic. It starts with his main character Drew spontaneously deciding to leave his boyfriend Mitch and just run for freedom, and from there we watch his attempt at escape. There isn’t any physical barrier keeping Drew around, and as a result this is a story which has to delve deeply into Drew’s head to try and explain the psychological and emotional barriers that he has to fight through. It’s a surprisingly powerful story, one that lets you fully understand what Drew himself can’t about why he’s trying to run away. Kirby’s soft lines in his art provide the perfect complement for the the story; when Kirby draws the three-legged dog in the park, there’s something in the dog’s eyes that just speaks volumes. Drew himself has a slightly confused and lost expression on his face or most of the story, and it helps show us the turmoil running through his head. I enjoyed all of Three #1, but "Freedom Flight" was easily my favorite of the three stories.

Three has a strong debut issue, and based on the excerpts of art for the next issue, it looks like Three isn’t going to be daunted at all by topping itself with the next issue. With Kirby’s Boy Trouble anthologies done for the time being, Three is a nice substitute that promises great things. You can order Three #1 directly from Rob Kirby Comics, and I whole-heartedly recommend you do so. Definitely check it out.

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