Featuring a bevy of red hot creators, Mario Candelaria’s Tales from the Pandemic is a showcase of the amazing talent that resides in the comic community. This “Mix-Tape” is a reflection of the ways in which comic creators have coped with the current state of the world. COVID19 threw everyone and everything for a loop to say the least. As shared as this experience has been and continues to be for us all, there are also countless individual stories to tell. Mario tells some of these tales while partnering with some of the hottest up and coming artists in independent comics.
TALES FROM THE PANDEMIC
All seven short stories written by Mario Candelaria (ASHES, THE CHART, GOOD FIGHT ANTHOLOGY) and illustrated by the following up-and-coming artists in the independent comics scene:
Adam Ferris (JENNY RAYGUN, THE GOOD FIGHT ANTHOLOGY, PARALLEL)
Joe Hunter (BEAST HEART STRIKERS!)
Dan Buksa (HOWL)
Randy Haldeman (THE JACKET, PRETTY LITTLE STINGS)
Andy Michael (sLAsher, MOTEL6VE)
J Paul Schiek
(DENIZENS, ASH, TOGETHER FOREVER)
Sachi Ediriweera (LIONBORN, GALLUS)
Cover by Skylar Patridge
(REVERSAL, VOLUME, RELICS OF YOUTH)
Fully lettered by Scott Ewen (CORKTOWN, THE SUNDAYS)
Book-ended with an intro & outro by MLS Cup winning soccer/football player Danny Earls (BAROQUE POP ANTHOLOGY, WARHAMMER)
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It is immediately apparent the talent that crafted this collection. The design and overall aesthetic is the proper introduction to the team that delivers Tales from the Pandemic. Brilliantly curated and executed there isn’t a publisher making comics today that wouldn’t benefit from having this book in their line. Taking an obviously old school comic love and seamlessly applying a modern look to it has born into our lucky hands an expertly done period piece that will certainly not be restrained by the times. Borrowing narrative leads and finishes from the likes of The Twilight Zone is just one of the ways that Mario’s writing ability stands out. Being able to use a classic tool to lend a hand to your own distinctive style isn’t an easy task. It is beyond evident that he’s used that tool to fine tune his own voice and amplify it beyond the pages. Every time I read a new piece from Mario I’m amazed at the genuine tone he’s able to portray regardless of the subject matter. Within these pages though, that genuine tone is able to shine insanely bright. There’s also nods and tips of the hat to the larger world of comics and pop culture if you’re paying attention.
The striking cover of Skylar Partridge is an open invitation to the fun and a caution that Tales from the Pandemic contains. At place on the shelves of today and yesteryear it serves as the introduction masterfully. Elements of all that Mario and the entire creative team put on the buffet table in this collection are given a wonderful snapshot that captures the imagination, and piques the interest of anyone that sees it.
Danny Earls‘ book end pieces both set up and close out this collection perfectly. His inclusion boosts the overall feel of the collection and lends to the ‘Tales of’ aspect through which we view the stories. The two sections house the presenter, or narrator that you find in these classic types of presentations. This inclusion is that finish touch that makes the whole package perfect.
The entirety of the Tales from the Pandemic is lettered by Scott Ewen. The stylistic choices he employs sews the strings of connectivity throughout the collection. As individual as the tales are, and the artists that present them, that common pulse of relatability truly cinches the stories together into a shared experience.
The individual styles of the artists that give life to the stories have been perfectly paired with the tales they showcase. Andy Michael’s raw approach brings out the seedy nature that resides in the primal regions of our brains. While justifications such as ‘opportunistic’ are bandied about the true nature of folks is revealed in times such as this pandemic. J Paul Schiek’s reality grounded ethereal tone allows a reminder of the importance of rules to provide a ghastly picture of how dire consequences can be. Randy Haldeman’s rough lines display the aggravation and aggression that boils to the surface when crisis and hardship overcome us.
Joe Hunter’s cartoon-ish take epitomizes one of the mental escapes we create in uncertain times with a frantic energy. Dan Buksa captures the grimy results when flippant attitudes prevail. Sachi Ediriweera’s capturing of the fantastical lengths in which our mind will try to protect us is a wonderful encapsulation of the hysteria that’s been on display during this worldwide pandemic. Adam Ferris rounds out the collection with a surreal look at normalcy, routine, and how they are just as infectious as any outside force.
The whole of Tales of the Pandemic is a masterclass in comic book making. Top notch writing, expert design, perfect artist pairing, and fundamental execution that major publishers wish they could pull off are what you’ll find in this modern day love letter to classic storytelling. The emotional gambit we’ve faced during this crisis gets a full discourse by way of creative means. All of us face our own demons and challenges when things are “normal” but tossing a global pandemic into the mix tests the resolve of even the best of us. Fitting that this collection has come about despite the mounting hardships and difficulties the world has thrown at us.
An outlet only available in the pandemic…