There is a cool comics group called the Boston Comics Roundtable that meets in Cambridge. I’ve been to a few of their meetings, and it’s quite a large and enthusiastic group. They range from the young and ambitious to the professional, and they publish an anthology called Inbound. The first two issues were un-themed, but the third issue was about love, and the 4th issue is about Boston history. This excellent theme brought a lot of artists out of the woodwork, and is generating a lot of community interest in the book. It’s their first graphic-novel-length book, at 144 pages, and contains 36 stories about Boston from the early 1600s to the present.
The thing about anthologies is that there’s always a range of styles and abilities. You won’t like everything, and you probably won’t like the same things I did. Overall, though, I think the quality of Inbound 4 is excellent for an anthology book, even leaving aside that many of the creators are still “emerging”. The artwork ranges from very good to rather poor, but even the pieces that are weak visually are clear enough to tell their story, and the stories are mostly quite good, which is the important thing in my opinion. The printing and design are good too, so the overall impression is professional.
I especially enjoyed the first half of the book. My favorite section is probably the 17th-18th century, with “The Granary” by Eric Heumiller providing a strong start. I also really enjoyed the well-summarized “Mrs. Henderson’s First Grade Class Presents: Shay’s Rebellion” by Will Clark — but all the stories in this section were solid. In the 19th century there were pieces with excellent art by Richard Jenkins, Ellen Shaw, and Braden Lamb, but my favorite was Franklin Einspruch’s abstract watercolor rendition of Thoreau’s “Heywood’s Brook”. Using the words of a great writer may be a crutch, but it’s one I make no bones about using myself, because it works. There were also good pieces in this section about Dungeon Rock and John Wilkes Booth.
The next section covers 1900-1949, and I really liked BK Smith’s “Moxie”, Dan Mazur’s “The Amazing… Story of Charles Ponzi”, and Cathy Leamy’s “The Old Howard”.
The last section, 1950-2009, I found less engaging, though there was a lot of humor in “In Da Chowda: A Rough Surf History of Boston” by Kevin Kilgore, and some nice narrative techniques in “William Moulton Marston” by Raul Gonzalez and “A Day in the Life of Al DeSalvo”by Lindsay Moore and Roho.
Scattered throughout, you’ll find many gems of Boston trivia. At $12 I think it’s a fine price for a Christmas present to all the Bostonians, Bostonites, and Bostonophiles in your social circle. You can get it from the BCR’s website or from many local book & comic stores.
Also, they’ll be having a book launch/signing at Porter Square Books on January 21st.