Review By: Jeff Marsick
Ask about Accent UK anywhere here in the states and the best you’ll get is a referral to the diminutive sixty-five-word entry on page 180 of the June Previews. The recent Diamond minimum-order policy doesn’t help the publisher gain traction on these shores, either. It’s unfortunate, too, because Accent’s anthologies have been improving with each outing. Zombies was good, Robots was better, and now Western is the best of the three, even sporting some well-known talent in the comics industry.
Western, as you can suss by the terrific twin-barreled and in-your-face cover by Kirk Manley, is two hundred pages of yarn-spinning by thirty-two creators, where the Wild West is the central theme. Dwight MacPherson has a piece in here, as does Leah Moore, Kieron Gillen, Andy Bloor, and legendary scribe Steve Bissette. What I love about Accent’s books is that while editor Dave West and his team are picky about their selections for inclusion, they relish in publishing work from no-names alongside those with better pedigrees. The result is a refreshing and entertaining gamut of work that spans from Sergio Leone-inspired steampunk (Robson and Coyle’s “A Fistful of Steam Valves”) to Al Jaffee-inspired backwoods zombie (Indio’s “A Fistful of Corpse Meat”).
While horror seems to be the popular catalyst for many of the stories, like the Lovecraftian “Last Train to Jubilation” by Gary Crutchley, and the spooky General Custer-as-a-zombie “The 7th Will Rise Again!” by MacPherson and the aforementioned Manley (arguably the best artwork in the book), it’s not all Halloween in Deadwood.
“A Hard Day’s Work…In The West” by editor Dave West is a chuckler, all in a single page of five panels, while “The Men Who Built The West” by Gillen and Bloor brings to mind Sam Raimi’s Ash, if he had been a cowboy. There are tales poignant and others perverse, most that hit their mark dead-center and a few that wander off the reservation. This last is to be expected, as no anthology is perfection from beginning to end, but the ratio of good to bad in Western certainly weighs heavily to the former.
Last week Image put out their anthology, Outlaw Territory, which is pretty good and a decent fix for western junkies looking for a score. But Image has the advantage of a bigger bench of comics talent from which to draw from, as well as the deeper coffers from which to dip. Western doesn’t have the same production value, but what they’ve done with less is just as entertaining and impressive, probably more so given the number of unknowns who have contributed.
If you’re a fan of western comics or just love a good anthology, you owe it to yourself to order a copy of Western. And if your LCS doesn’t know what you’re talking about, show them page 180 of the June Previews.