A 'Collection of Cadavers' - The Perils of Writing for an Anthology

A ‘Collection of Cadavers’ – The Perils of Writing for an Anthology

Posted by September 1, 2018 Comment

Jordan Thomas writes:

Anthologies are an interesting concept.

We find them in all kinds of creative arenas, taking various forms.

In the movies, we have examples such as Creepshow, with a sole writer (Stephen King) and a sole director (George A. Romero), but a collection of unconnected stories featuring a changing cast, including a decidedly un-Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen.

Or, New York Stories, where each story is an entirely new creative team.

In literature, we get the same. Sometimes one author, sometimes many.

I guess a mixtape is like an anthology. Twelve songs explaining the intricacies of why you are madly in love with someone. Or, if you’re the recipient, 12 songs explaining the intricacies of why you need this restraining order.

However, for me personally, the most fun anthologies take place in the pages of comic books. I’ve just written two stories for an awesome anthology set in the Cadavers world created by Matthew Hardy and Edward Bentley — so I may be biased, but hear me out.

Anthology movies tend to have to keep a fairly consistent tone. There’s a lot of money involved and marketing a movie that starts with a violent revenge thriller, followed by a love story and closing out with a science-heavy think piece just isn’t going to fly.

Our anthology on the other hand kicks off with a murderous pre-teen girl, followed by a gelatinous blob detective, segues into time-travel mystery, then jumps right into a doomed romantic comedy. And what’s amazing is that it all works! Comics let you do this. You turn the page, see a totally new art style and it resets your brain ready for the next adventure.

Anthology books don’t have this luxury. It’s just words, words, words. You get in a rhythm. That’s why there’s no short story anthology that starts with Bukowski, before Nicholas Sparks, David Foster Wallace, and then Margaret Atwood take a turn.

However, comics can shift from a Close Encounters of the Third Kind style mystery to an all-out action story and then dive into a coming of age story following a group of kids trying to still have fun whilst living in a warzone.

Of course, comic anthologies also have the upper hand in that showing the coolest, hugest, time travelling cannon you’ve ever seen costs exactly the same as a talking heads scene (as in character building, not Psycho Killer).

A movie of the Cadavers: World Gone to Hell anthology would be like nothing you’d ever seen in the cinema. It would also be one of the most expensive movies of all time. I love Creepshow, but after the first couple of sections, you know the world you’re in. In comics, our imaginations can truly run wild and take full advantage of the concept of the anthology and delight in all new ways on every page.

 

And with the artists we found I feel confident that we have achieved that. I also helped the creator of the Anthology, Matt Hardy, with the structuring and editing of the beast – and it is a beast, 12 stories, 130 pages.

This meant I was privileged to get early sight of the incredible art each and everyone one of the artists we found has delivered to bring to life the inventive, bizarre, intriguing and hilarious stories all the guys contributed. You’ll see some of this art scattered throughout this article. Or more likely you’ll accidentally read a few of my words scattered around the beautiful art!

And really that is the most amazing part of working on a comic like this that I just don’t think you’d get from a movie or a book. All the awesome, talented creators you get to collaborate with. Chatting over script ideas with great writers. Seeing the constant flow of incredible art coming in daily; all in different styles, all stunning. We have artists with hints of everyone from Mike Mignola and Rob Guillory, to Darwyn Cooke and Frank Quitely.

Although doing the research for this article I’m starting to think we may not have actually made an anthology after all. I wonder how Matt would feel about changing everything to Cadavers Portmanteau: World Gone to Hell?

(Last Updated September 1, 2018 1:49 pm )

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About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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