Current Reviews



Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
By: Zakarya Anwar

Accent UK
Accent UK (Zombies, Robots and The Wolfmen) are a publishing house based in Cheshire, UK. Themed anthologies are their thing, and this year’s thing is the western genre. Hence the title of this trade paperback collection: Western--an anthology of short, self-contained stories and vignettes set in the American Old West.

Editors Dave West and Colin Mathieson always put together a professional product, and Western is no different. Kirk Manley’s brilliant wrap-around cover let’s you know exactly what you’re getting when you open this book--gunmen, lawmen, and whole lot of six-shooters.

Andy Bloor (The Wolfmen), whose always-good artwork is within these pages (as is Kirk Manley‘s), does a great job with the book’s design. Accent UK’s anthologies have improved greatly since he jumped on board. But let’s get to the important stuff.

The vast majority of the stories come under the category of the classic British “twist-in-the-tale.” Some of the twists are quite good, both relevant and unpredicted. There were a number of them, however, that jarred, two or three of which had the exact same twist.

The book also contains many references to a number of famous film westerns that you should be shot if you haven’t seen. Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western trilogy and Django come to mind quite easily.

Leah Moore and Dwight Macpherson lead the charge among the writers with crisp, simple, yet effective writing that showcases their strengths. Yet it seems that to counter a group of otherwise solid writers, a few less than solid varmints have done gone’n’got smuggled across that there darn border (a-headed to NU-MEXICO, naturally) with a fistful of clichés. These select few try their best to ruin it.

The artwork has greatly improved from previous anthologies. Unlike before, flicking through the anthology does not allow you to discern who the “best” artist is. They’re all good (at least almost all of them are). Bloor, Manley, and Mullins step to the fore, though--which is not to say that there aren’t at least ten others that are of the same calibre, or close enough to it.

One thing that always gets on my nerves when reading small press black-and-white comics is when there is so much squeezed into a single panel that it is impossible to tell what is going on. Thankfully that is not the case with Western.

However, Noble, whose writing is great, still caused me some distress. I appreciate it when a good writer does his own artwork (as opposed to a good artist doing his own writing, which is almost never good). Yet, after mulling over a page for ten minutes does not reveal the connection between the pictures and the words, I get cranky. Maybe that’s just me and my inferior deductive reasoning skills, though--and Noble’s words do provide a good read.

Western is one of Accent UK’s best anthologies yet. The book is a refreshing read in contrast to all the mainstream cack that is on the shelves. While some stories may not be to everyone’s taste, most will keep you entertained.

Two-hundred-odd pages of very different stories for thirteen dollars sure is a helluva dang bargain--and that there bookshelf of yers, like mine, will be better for having anthologies like this nestled in, all nice and cosy-like, on it. Buy it.

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