Hive 3: A Somewhat Quarterly Comic Journal Ed. by J.M. Shiveley

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Hive 3: A Somewhat Quarterly Comic Journal
Ed. by J.M. Shiveley
Grimalkin Press

hive3Hive is a theme-less comics anthology that’s edited by J.M. Shiveley and printed by Grimalkin Press — Shiveley’s ambitious DIY publishing company. To wit, the third issue of Hive is being sold through a Barnes & Noble store.  See?  Ambitious.

Yes, individual B&N stores have a history of carrying books from small-time publishers, but those titles tend to cover local history and still look like “books.” You know, soft- and hard-cover vanity-pressed books.

None of these terms describe Hive 3 which is folded concertina-style and has a double-sided letterpress cover. Hive 3 is certainly a fat 2-in-1 booklet, which is something I thought I’d never see in a big box bookstore.  I’m calling that an achievement.

That said, while printing experiments in comics are admirable, there are some clear issues with the publication style of Hive 3.  It’s eye-catching, sure, but there’s just too much going on with the printing of this book that doesn’t make sense for the material.  I guess if you’re going to charge $10 for a self-published hand-made black-and-white anthology, it should really have something distinctive going on, but I’m afraid this issue has crossed the line from unique to gimmicky.

To be fair though, a book shouldn’t be judged entirely by its cover, and what Hive 3 presents deep down inside is a high-quality selection of short comics and art.

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Wormdye by Eamon Espey

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Wormdye
By Eamon Espey
Secret Acres

It starts innocently enough—two grotesque twin boys shoving the pet cat into microwave at 30 seconds on Defrost. Take it as a warning sign from the author, right out of the gate—if these images disturb you, then now would be the ideal time to back out unscathed. Like a visual tour into the concentric circles of hell, the further one descends into Wormdye’s rabbit hole, the more simultaneously disturbing and engrossing the book’s words and images become, forgoing the former at times to cobble together an orgy of terrifying imagery, like small scale black and white tributes to Hieronymus Bosch, sketched out in the childlike pen of a latter day Gary Panter.

Like the Heaven and Hell painter, Eamon Espey seems to gleam some manner of visceral thrill from its depiction of such horror, however, unlike Bosch’s work, Wormdye largely eschews the Judeo-Christian code as a moral compass, at least on the surface largely ignoring that tradition altogether, save for an trip into a Vatican inhabited by a warlike, gluttonous pope who might easily go head-to-head with Boniface, himself gleefully satirized by Boccaccio and banished to hell by Dante.

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