Short comic book stories and anthology series are often overlooked in comics today. There is a big achievement in writing a 20-page comic book, but packing a whole story into fewer pages takes even more careful planning and pacing for a writer and artist team. Monkeybrain Comics has been a digital publisher on Comixology since 2012, and they’ve become popular for releasing short stories by various creators. Many of the stories are serialized, while some of them are short one and done stories.
This week’s Alternative Comics Beat features a 10-page one-shot comic by writer Vance Sumner and artist Sandy Jarrel, with the backdrop of a spooky family story.
The story, without giving too much away, is about a man who loses his child after he floats out the window during a storm. The road to get him back is paved with supernatural elements, including talking animals, and ends with an unexpected twist. It’s the kind of ghost story that isn’t horrifying, but touching in the way that supernatural tales can be. The realm of the unknown can make the most human moments of storytelling soar, and Unfair is a story that does just that.
The artwork by Jarrel has a classic style. It’s a mixture of old comic book cartooning and animation-inspired design that makes the story play like a short animated film. There isn’t a lot of room to tell the story, and Jarrel makes every panel count in his collaboration with Sumner. There’s a particularly striking panel near the end where the father shares a moment with someone that is truly tender. The expressions on their faces pulls you back to that magic you felt during animated films when you were younger. To pull that off in general is tough, and to pull that off in comics is a real feat.
Monkeybrain has a variety of titles to choose from, and no two are alike. It’s refreshing to read something that makes a statement, uses the comic book medium so well, but doesn’t feature superheroes. There is a little bit of action, but it’s definitely a story that focuses more on character and the powerful bond that a family unit has together.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that there might be a tear in your eye at the end of this week’s pick. I suggest you roll the dice and see if you can achieve the same level of emotion that I got out of it. For under a dollar, it’s well worth your time as a comic book reader. You can find the issue on the Comixology app under the Monkeybrain Comics section.
Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics.