Ignition Vol. 1 Written by Various Penciled by Various Colors by Various Edited by Andrew DelQuadro 215 Ink Release Date: Available for Pre-Order Cover Price: $29.99
So, there’s a review in here, promise, and it’s going to be about the new collection from 215ink called Ignition Vol. 1. The lede is just, as people who call writing a profession say, buried. First, I need a moment to qualify what I mean and give a frame of reference. So, sorry, but: you can always circumvent that by skipping to the end if you’d like.
There’s been something of a renaissance of creator owned content lately, with a bevy of titles being announced from creators like Grant Morrison, Steve Niles, Brian K Vaughan, and other industry heavyweights. Although artistic control has been a high profile issue in the comics world at least since the early 90s -what with the Creator’s Bill of Rights in 1988, and the creation of Image Comics in 1992- the past calendar year has seemed like something of a watershed moment for the publicity and frequency of creator owned projects. Every major publisher, I believe, has an imprint dedicated to these projects, and the whole thing smacks of a cash-in. That sounds cynical.
Well, it is cynical, but: for all the well-deserved hoopla of this model, a majority of the opportunities, at least from the larger players in comics publishing, have been granted to large, recognizable names, like the ones listed above. This, of course, isn’t meant to disparage these creators. Each has worked hard, and succeeded, and deserve the opportunities afforded to them, and to own the things they create. Still, the model for creator-owned projects can be risk-averse, with little room for aspiring talents who may deserve a platform, but require time to hone their abilities. So, that’s the context required to introduce a publishing house that you may have heard of, but, maybe you haven’t.
215ink opened up shop in 2007 with the express goal of amending some of these very issues in the comics industry. Much of their stable of artists and creators comes from submissions, and they give up and coming artists a pallet, if not a platform, to grow, without forcing them to give up their creations. The story of Ignition then, 215ink’s new compilation -featuring over thirty stories written, illustrated and colored by well over 60 artists- is as much about these people given the chance to highlight themselves as it is about the worth of the stories in a vacuum. Hopefully all that clarifies this: I don’t mean to belittle any of them when I say that the collection is very rough, and the content often feels akin to something you’d find in a college newspaper.
There is a lot of talent- nascent though it may be- on display in Ignition. Clown Fight, written by Rob Harrington, drawn by Ger Curti, and colored by Lara Maruca, is a blast. Beginning as a western standoff, it quickly morphs into something closer to the spectacle of a WWE match, with clownish props and sensibility replacing metal chairs and staple guns. The art itself detonates -kablooey- with pop sensibility and colorful splashes for the foreground against drab backdrops. WTF, written by Scott R. Schmidt, with artistic duties split between Grant Perkins, Diego Martinez, and Vladimir Popov, is successful largely because of the same principle. A Zeus and Prometheus smackdown with artwork not dissimilar to what one would find in Chew basically can’t fail to entertain. How Xarg Got His Groove Back, written by John Paul Fitch and rendered by David Tomei, is a screwy romp in its own right, with Xarg, a Galactian destroyer of planets confronting an existential crisis after being laid off from what he does best.
It’s not just the funny shorts that keep Ignition afloat. NYE 2001, written by Jason Franks, is a reserved, reflective piece about responsibility, with a young man picking up a transient young woman on New Year’s Eve who may be in a bad situation. Jose Pimientia’s monochromatic illustrations are a good companion to the story: all heavy lines and shadows. Conversely, The Last Day of the Ghostwalker, written by Mark Bertolini, is the loquacious inner-monologue of a jaded superhero bored by the lack of crime in his protectorate. Each of these two stories are like the hidden jewel of the comics section in the rough trade zine fresh off the copier. These and other good stories do need a bit of cleanup, but you can squint and see what they could be as polished short stories.
What I mean is that, it’s not like this assortment is bereft of any value or worth: it’s just spotty. Sometimes that’s because the stories feel like a tiny morsel of a much larger piece or work, and the selection just doesn’t work on its own. There are a few stories that are listed as chapter seven or nine in an ongoing series, and it’s often unclear why that segment was chosen. Alternatively, the short is a percolating idea, but doesn’t have enough surrounding it to be a fully-fledged story yet. But, the most common explanation for the stories that don’t work is that they need more time and better construction or sharper artwork, and this is the place for those who need it to get it. Thus, it’s a collection that should be supported, if you believe in the model of ownership; It’s not a collection that you should expect great things from.