Going Inside Gestalt's Flinch Anthology

Flinch - cover

This May, a new anthology arrives from Down Under that’s guaranteed to make you Flinch. Published by Gestalt Comics, Flinch is a collection of original stories from a variety of creators that explores the different definitions of “flinch.”

“It’s a series of tales exploring that which triggers the primal, autonomic response, captured between fight and flight in that moment where we are, perhaps, at our most and least human,” says co-editor Wolfgang Bylsma. “The premise for Flinch was borne of the success of our first book, an anthology called Character Sketches, in which we invited creators to submit stories based on the themes of “trauma” and/or ‘joy.’”

In a callout for contributors to Character Sketches, Bsylma and co-editor Skye Ogden received an overwhelming number of responses, and decided to do an additional anthology as a result. “We wanted to try and release another book featuring more creators and invite some creative collaborations from outside of comics as well,” Bsylma says.”That’s why we have fantasy/horror authors (James Barclay, Terry Dowling) in the mix as well as a playwright (Tom Taylor, although he's now writing comics for Dark Horse as well) and fine-artist (Mark Welsh).”

Bylsma picks “96,000m” by Tom Taylor and Tom Bonin as the book’s most offbeat interpretation of the word “flinch.” “I refer to the story endearingly as ‘Giant Squids and the Men Who Love Them,’” Bsylma says. “I'll leave the rest up to your imagination...”

Ogden picks Shaun Tan’s contributions to the anthology, along with “Withheld” by Bobby N, as the book’s most unusual pieces. “I think it’s one of the best stories paneled by anyone on the southern side of the equator, and definitely deserves more attention abroad, as do all the stories we've included,” Ogden says.

Shaun Tan, whose books The Arrival and Tales From Outer Suburbia have been acclaimed as major combinations of the graphic novel and storybook formats, contributes both an original cover and story to Flinch. “We've had a relationship with Shaun Tan for some years now, which came out of my producing a radio show for national community radio called Faster Than Light,” Bylsma says. “We'd interviewed Shaun for the show on a number of occasions, and from those conversations came his submission of a short story to Character Sketches. We've kept in touch since, and were well pleased when he offered to provide cover art along with some internal pages for Flinch.”

With the exception of Ray Fawkes and James Barclay, all of the contributors to Flinch are Australian. “The Australian comics scene seems to be growing at a rapid pace,” Bylsma says. “We've produced some exemplary creators, including Ashley Wood, Gary Chaloner, Ben Templesmith, Shane McCarthy and a host of others.

“While the 'local' scene has tended to be slightly insular in the past, there are more talented creators who are seeking to push the boundaries into the international scene alongside those names. Hopefully, we can help them accomplish that.”

And what makes the editors flinch? For Ogden, it’s horror films and games. “I am always looking for something to give me a good scare,” Ogden says. “I am currently researching for my new book, and although the story is driven forward with a whimsical, satirical look at political and religious issues, horror is a central theme.

“Living in Japan, I look for ‘shinrei eizo’ and ‘shinrei shashin’ (spirit videos and spirit photography) and sometimes look for Ghost sites and ruins within Tokyo. It’s odd, but I started doing it about a year ago and can't stop. I love the ‘bikuri’ or surprising feeling I get from this stuff sometimes - which is all being translated into my work.”

And for Bylsma, it takes a lot less: “The unexpected, especially when it arrives noisily.”

To get an idea of what will make you Flinch, visit www.flinchcomics.com.

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