A Spotlight Feature: Waiting, A Comics Anthology

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Contributors: Sami Brice, Sara Stafford, Rachel Suhs, Nat Brownlee, Hikari Kobayashi, Tomas Vallecillo, Jen Braunstein, Mei Lian Hoe, Alex Sammas, Syd Sanders, Rowan Fridley, AlfaFilly, Jordan Scribner, Audra Winslow

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St. Louis had its 2019 coldsnap a couple weeks ago. I woke up on a dreary Monday morning to find that my freshly cut lawn had been coated with a heavy dusting of snow. The irony is that I had put off mowing my lawn for weeks hoping that this precise thing would happen, only to find myself looking outside and saying “now’s the time” to myself. There’s an added layer of meaning given that this early to winter and the blitzing holiday seasons tend to put me in an anticipatory or hibernation-esque state depending on the day. I’m waiting for trick or theaters. I’m waiting for family to visit or me to visit family. I’m waiting for the warm weather to return. I’m waiting for the new year. In this particular case, I’m waiting for a new decade as well.

Sample pages by Tomas Vallecillo and Nat Brownlee
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Sample pages by Tomas Vallecillo and Nat Brownlee

As such, it’s only fitting that when I asked for a reading recommendation from a friend to keep me occupied as I continue to fight off the cold, they directed to me Waiting, A Comics Anthology. Edited by Sami Brice, Waiting is the end product of a successful campaign that ran this summer, generating nearly $12k from nearly 250 backers to produce a comics anthology centered around the titular concept of waiting. Specifically in the editor’s own words it’s “a comic anthology that explores the interactions, adventures, and emotions we have as we wait for life to happen.” It’s an open ended prompt to be sure, but in what continues to be the weirdest timeline, it’s one that is particular resonant in its ambition and end result.

Featuring fourteen different creators with different artistic and storytelling styles, Waiting is a medley of moments. It spans a wide range of genres and visual cues. There’s a wide variance in the types of stories being told, some being autobiographical anecdotes, others being a little bit more surreal, and even even branching out to more fantastical settings and stories.

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The moment you open the anthology, you’re greeted with a series of loading bars in a succinct visual metaphor for the collection as a whole that shows off vibrant colors and sets up the optimistic tone of the book as a whole. The first story in the anthology is from the Sami Brice herself and gives context to the creation of Waiting as a whole, which is both incredibly meta and inspiring. There have been countless time where I have put off pursuing something justifying that I need to pursue safer avenues and the right opportunity will come around, not acknowledging that I was just afraid of the possibility. Brice’s candid tone and the resolve in the story (and the mere existence of the book itself) acts a perfect prelude to the book and establishing the tone.

Each story in the collection is only a handful of pages, but manages to have a resounding impact with the obvious notes that your mileage may vary on which stories end up punching you in the gut. For me personally, the three stand outs were:

  • En Passant by Nat Brownlee, a touching story about a grandmother passing down her love of checkers to her grand daughter.
  • The Wait by Hikari Kobayashi, a brief manifesto about the philosophy behind making coffee and the larger, more symbolical meaning behind the act of creating the perfect cup.
  • Heartwarmers by Alex Shammas, my favorite comic in the whole selection because as much as I am loathe to admit it, I’m a clear sucker for a good love story and Shammas’s art and writing capture that special type of relationship/bond and the time spent waiting for a loved one to return.
Sample pages by Alex Shammas and Rowan Fridley
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Sample pages by Alex Shammas and Rowan Fridley

Of course, the work done by Sara Stafford, Rachel Suhs, Tomas Vallecillo, Jen Braunstein, Mei Lian Hoe,  Syd Sanders, Rowan Fridley, AlfaFilly, Jordan Scribner, and Audra Winslow were all enjoyable reads as well, and I have a suspucion that when you pick up Waiting, one of their stories could very easily be dog-earred for an easy return. The best part about Waiting is how at ease it made feel. It is a book that acknowledges the anxiety of anticipation and slowly helps one process all of those feelings and emotions. Waiting is a book that promotes taking on life at your own pace. It encourages you to rush forward or take it steady, depending on what exactly you’re predisposed to.

As the year, and I guess the decade, wind down, it’s often a time where we spend waiting. As a child, I used to believe that the year ended after Christmas and that the six-ish days before January 1st were this weird sort of dead time, a not-quite week where we as a family would wait inside as the world outside got recreated (Advent calendars and an overactive child’s imagination is one helluva combination). As an adult, I don’t actually think that much has actually practically. I find myself waiting for the holidays, for the new year, for the new decade, for the weather to get warmer. But in that same vein, I’m also waiting for new opportunities, new chances to grow, a push in the right direction, a prompt like “if you’re going to do it, now’s the time” from an anime, and a chance to recommend Waiting, A Comics Anthology to all of you.

Waiting is a sincere collection of comics. Every aspect, from the creative team to the comics themselves, is solid and resonant, and is the perfect reading material for the winter of 2019. For $12, it’s definitely worth supporting.

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  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

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