Note: Some may fairly ask about the inclusion of the attractive bearded lady on the cover of the book. Apparently this was Dave's approach to creating his own version of Tharg and he (or she) was the editor for his publication titled, Dogbreath. Dr Bob was the fictional editor of Dogbreath. Though Alan Holloway says, "The editor was a woman, I met her at Lawless."
Discolure 1: Unless in passing at a comic convention to the best of my knowledge I never had the pleasaure of meeting Mr Dave Evans who is better known as Bolt 01. I'd also point out I did not receive a review copy for free, and will respect the fact even my copy will go toward the appropriate charity. (I obviously wish I had had the opportunity to meet the man.)
Discolure 2: For anyone unaware: Mr Evans took his own life. Beyond stating that fact, the subject is a private family matter and any comments on the subject at all will be deleted where ever this review is shared!! That is not appropriate to this review!
Before we start talking about the content of the book I believe huge credit must go towards Ed Doyle and Alan Holloway for making this book even possible. I have interviewed them both individually so I will not go over old ground except to say their words of wisdom about the creation of this fine publication are worth your time indeed. It should be a easy enough to find those two interviews on this website but I will provide links at the end.
Note: To the left Alan Holloway and to the right Ed Doyle.
So where does one start? First impressions are simple. The book honours the traditions of Annuals of the past. It is chuncky and very well made.It has that smooth cover feel of a proper comic annual. The spine is perfect so it can slip into any decent comic fan's bookshelf. Having said that the first page is a kicker in both a positive and a sad way.
My copy is numbered 126 out of 200, and the intro from Danni Evan's (Mini Bolt) is a uniquely emotional way to open a comic. It shows so much passion and goes to show and hammer home what all the following pages mean to everyone that made this book possible.
At a random glance it may be possible to say it is a mostly black and white effort, but that would be unfair. There are strips and pages on displays that need to be black and white. Perhaps that is a legacy other publications could learn from. (Ahem: Tharg.)
It is hard to single out a favourite story, artist or writer here.That would be quite unfair because there is a litteral smorgasbord of joy within these well over hundred plus varied pages.There is nothing below 5 stars on display here in my estimation. All I can do is point out the art or writing that especially caught my eye.
The pin ups by Andrew Sawyers, Ginger Dan, Ed Doyle and Boo cook are very eyes catching, but of all the pieces the one provided by Matt Sandbrook is especially effective.
The stories in the book are a wonderfully mixed bag indeed.
"Holding Onto You" by Yousaf Khan and Katie Pinch is certainly worthy of significant credit. This is almost a perfect silent black and white strip, such things should always be respected.Telling a story so clevely is a hard trick to pull off.
"My last Grenade" by Colin Maxwelll is a brief story that is beautiful in it's own simplicity. It is a cracking example of very tight writing. To many it may seem obvious but the quality on display here in a short story is impressive. For some older comic fans it may help them to recall some memories of early pages of Charley's War by the mighty Pat MIlls'.
"The House in the Suburbs" is an excellent short story by Niels Van Eekelen, and art by Torgo Wells, but this all goes to show that reviewing an anthologhy of this quality is quite difficult. A list of all the names involved to credit here might look like the end of a huge Marvel Movie. Every contrition is a marvel!
With this in mind I will single out two more stories. The Wedding is a funky and fun six panel page story by John Wagner and Dan Cornwell. It is a highlight in the middle of the book.
The story Kraszy Robotski.is a true highlight of the entire book. Azza's art is wisely picked for the reader to enjoy after openning the front cover. He is the spawn of Jean Giraud without any doubt.
I have enjoyed every single page of this book. I cannot credit everyone involved and yet I must state every detail has clearly been created with love and obvious care. It is a five star review for me all day long.
PS: Pete Howard and Garry Wharton are very funny.