The Gwan Anthology
Publisher: Forward Comix
Cover: Jerome Walford
Jerome Walford, the creator of the award winning Nowhere Man and Curse of the Griffin: Daniel’s Pride returns and this time he’s not alone! With some help from a wide range of talented artists and writers they have collected some of the most rich and diverse array of stories here in The Gwan Anthology. But it’s not just the stories but the creators themselves that are just as diverse, hailing from fifteen countries across five continents. However, the theme that connects the stories in Gwan is one that embraces the immigrant experience and shares its many sides.
The voices that speak to the varying degrees of these experiences deliver stories from several different genres of storytelling. Walford himself kicks things off with a story from his fantasy world of Curse of the Griffin. From the narrative to the visuals it’s a compelling story that leaves you wanting more. From here the stories range from comedic, horror, historical, sci-fi, to just downright cute! Okay, I know that last one isn’t technically a genre of storytelling but if it was then Selina Briggs’ The First Adventure would fit snugly in that category. Of course with the broad range of stories packed in here you’re bound to find some that will stand out to you and some that won’t. However, I wouldn’t say that any of them are poorly done but not everything is going to grab you in an anthology and that’s okay. What was apparent is that even the stories that didn’t quite excite me still had certain qualities about them that were agreeable. But the stories that stuck with me were the ones that made me wish they were longer or just did something that caught me completely by surprise. Like Arianna Mao’s Journey to OZ includes the Monkey King Sun Wukóng, who just happens to be a favorite character of mine. Another surprise came when reading Coming In From The Cold which not only has a strong narrative centered around music but the restaurant depicted in here looks too much like one that I actually frequent in my neighborhood to be a coincidence. Good thing there’s a brief bio on each creator at the beginning of each entry which can help you find more of their work.
The Gwan Anthology isn’t just a collection of short stories though. You are also treated to some of the most jaw dropping and inspiring artwork throughout it’s pages. I was forced to go back and just spend just as much time looking at the works of N. Steven Harris, Tanna Tucker, Craig “Flux” Singleton and so many more. The art is just as varied as the stories as you’ll go to exotic landscapes then be transported to some afrofuturistic funk in another. You’ll probably wish you had these hanging on your walls at home and enough wall space to hang them all.
The Gwan Anthology is a heartfelt piece of storytelling that nails it’s theme then blows past expectations. The talent gathered here should all be congratulated here because it’s evident that in every story told it’s from a personal place. One of the highest compliments a graffiti writer could get was going All City with their art. Well, this collection of written and visual art is definitely All World worthy! So make the opportunity to get your copy of The Gwan Anthology and take a trip around the world. Hopefully it moves and inspires you the way art is supposed to.