Tilt: Six Tales – Graphic Novel Review

Quindrie Press, an independent, queer owned comic publisher with an amazing track record of supporting charitable causes, has launched a new book on Kickstarter; and they’ve been kind enough to share some of the contents with us. Tilt: Six Tales is a new anthology collection that, as the title may have hinted at, brings together six exciting new stories from a diverse group of creators from across the UK. The book features almost 150 pages of black and white comics in one volume, curated by editors Eve Greenwood, and Hari Conner.

‘By The Way’ by Julie Campbell is a fantasy story that follows an older woman, Hetta, as she leaves the farm that she’s lived in for decades with her wife, and sets out to journey to live with her family a few days away. Hetta lost her wife a few years before, and despite trying to maintain her farm on her own, has come to the decision that she needs to move on with her life. After saying goodbye to her home, and the memories of her wife, she sets out to make a two day journey to the small village her daughter lives in. Along the way she encounters a journeying town guard, Nethan, who joins her on the road. The two of them bond quickly, thanks in part to the old woman’s time as a guard herself, and they provide each other with companionship. They also meet another woman, the travelling artist Parry, who provides them with shelter in the storm. The three women make their way across the countryside, talking about life.

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There’s a lot to ‘By The Way’ that will take readers by surprise the first time they read it, as it’s the kind of story that very subtly messes with expectations, and makes some interesting narrative choices. There are some hints scattered throughout that this is more than just the story of three women meeting on the road, but even then it doesn’t really show what the point of the story is. In many ways, it seems to be a story about life, about looking back on the things that you’ve done, the places you’ve been, and the people you loved as you enter the later years of your life. Hetta is going through a big change by going to live with her family, and it causes her to reflect on her past and think about what could have been, which a very real, very human thing to do.

The artwork on the story is very nice, and Campbell’s art looks wonderful when the characters are on the road, travelling through the countryside. She’s able to capture the beauty of nature and translates it well onto the page. The characters aren’t just wandering through generic looking forests, the countryside is varied and interesting, and it’s always a little different; and because of this is looks like the real world more than a lot of comics do. The people, who are some kind of dog people, also look really cool, and whilst it’s harder to make animal people look as varied as humans, Campbell makes everyone here look distinct and unique. ‘By The Way’ was a really engaging story, one that I think a lot of people are going to like.

‘Gastrotelepathy’ by Jack Devereaux has a decidedly manga feel to it, and takes a rather ordinary setting and injects it with energy and weirdness that makes it stand out as something a bit different. The story begins by following an unnamed man as he makes his way through the city towards his favourite restaurant. He’s had a tough day at work, and desperately wants their world famous king truffle seasoned coq au van to celebrate a job well done. However, the restaurant is closed up. In his disappointment he walks past a small cafe with a sign out front making a bold claim: “What does your stomach truly desire? Our chef knows! If she’s right you pay, is she’s wrong you eat free, if you lie pay triple!”

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Taking a peek inside the man sees a chef who’s able to perfectly predict the dishes each of her customers wants, and produces amazing, delicious looking food. Unsure what to do, the man is convinced to give it a try. Thus begins a strange experience that will take readers in a direction you probably won’t be able to predict. ‘Gastrotelepathy’ is a strange story, as it takes a very ordinary concept of someone looking to grab some food, and adds a really bizarre spin on things that instantly makes you feel like you have no idea what could happen next.

The artwork looks really different from everything else in the book too, with bold, exaggerated character designs, and lots of on panel effects and text popping up. It feels like it’s trying to constantly grab your attention, trying to guide you through the story with showmanship, and at times misdirection too. This is a story where the way it’s being presented is as much part of the tale as the things happening are, and it often ends up jumping off the page.

‘The Monster and the Girl’ by Dominique Duong feels very different in comparison, and whilst the last story was very busy pages with a lot happening on them this tale feels a lot more sedate, with more minimalist art. The story, as the title suggests, is about a little girl and a monster. The monster, badly wounded and bleeding, seeks shelter in a small cave that happens to be the hideaway for Tran, a nine-year-old girl. Tran tries to befriend the monster, giving it food and talking to it, and it eventually lets her bandage its wounds. As the two of them spend more time together the monster starts to learn more about Tran, and discovers that her father beats her when he’s angry. Angry that its friend is hurt and afraid, the monster sets out to help Tran.

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This is the simplest of the stories presented here, with much less dialogue, and panels that aren’t filled with much other than the main focus, but it’s also one of the most endearing and touching stories, and was easily my favourite of the bunch. The friendship that forms between Tran and the monster is genuinely sweet, with some lovely moments that happen, and the conclusion is just perfect, and left me wanting to see more. The artwork is really nice, and has something of a storybook element to it that really appealed to me. It dealt with some big concepts, but felt very accessible thanks to the easygoing visual style, and I think it would be the one of the three here that readers of all ages would love.

The other three stories in the collection (which we were not provided with) are: ‘F! Providence’, which follows a woman freshly fired from her job by a corporation gobbling up her city, leading her to decide to take action against them; ‘In Lilac & Silver’, which focuses on a woman dealing with her recently deceased sister coming back to life in cyborg form, and deals with questions of what makes a person who they are; and ‘The Last Stop’, which takes readers to a spirit cafe, and takes a look at what happens when a human accidentally stumbles in. Overall I found Tilt: Six Tales to be an enjoyable read, filled with stories that vary in style and tone, offering readers a lot of different things to discover, and some great artists and writers to experience.

The Kickstarter for Tilt: Six Tales runs until 29th September, with preorders running until 13th October on Quindrie Press.


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