Flight: Volume Four
Edited By Kazu Kibuishi
For years, anthologies served as the in for the alternative comics scene, both in terms of readers attempting to wade into this sometimes overwhelming world, and artists trying to gain exposure in the oft-clicky realm. Over the years, the great anthologies have slowly faded into oblivion, as editors began to develop their own pet projects, and publishers’ rosters grew too full to nurture outsiders. As the last great collections of the era have died off, Flight has grown fatter, more comprehensive, and increasingly essential.
This fourth volume, edited by the much buzzed about Kazu Kibuishi, does everything a good indie comics anthology should: it’s lovingly (and stunningly) compiled, covers a broad stylistic range, and perhaps most importantly, exposes beautiful work by a handful of relative unknowns—aside from Kibiushi himself, Grickle’s Graham Annable, and husband and wife team, Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, the majority of names in the anthology will likely prove unfamiliar to a majority of comic fans.
True to Kibuishi’s own obsessions, many of the works in Flight focus on themes of fantasy and childhood, and with a few names drawn from American animation studios and Kibusihi’s own home at Scholastic, this is one of the few collections in the space that parents can safely hand off to their children. The artwork runs a wide spectrum, held together by the fact that it’s nearly consistently stunning, owing no small part to the beautiful full colors that fill out every page.
Flight gets the Cartoon Books seal of approval, thanks to an afterward penned by Jeff Smith (anyone familiar with the artist’s glorious dozen-year sojourn, Bone, should have a good idea of what they’re getting themselves into). Smith calls this the ‘best anthology of imagination…since Heavy Metal.’ I’d hesitate to make such sweeping statements myself, but at present am coming up short with names to refute it.
I’ll play it safe and call it, perhaps the best indie comics anthology produced this year, a statement that will prove all the more obvious as its contributors become some of the top names in their industry in the years to come.