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Released last year by Ape Entertainment, Fablewood Anthology is obviously drawing on the popularity of the Flight volumes. While the two projects share a lot in common — up-and-coming creators telling fantastic tales — Fablewood Anthology is much more slight and much more uneven.
Opening with Flight alumnus JP Ahonen‘s wistful story “Solace,” Fablewood does start out strong. After that, though, the subsequent tales swing up and down, from the disappointingly undeveloped “A Vicious Cirlce” by J.J. Nass and Eleanor Cooper to the stunningly beautiful “Under the Midnight Sun” by Dusty Neal and Chris Studabaker.
When the stories here deviate from the typical sword-and-sorcery fantasy, like Sarah Mensinga‘s wordless “Fish” rendered in soft pen and ink and watercolors, they do better. Instead, too many of these stories just feel like the beginnings of ideas, like Daniel Lafrance‘s “Unworthy.” I was left wanting to know what our nameless main character was doing alone in the snowy mountain pass, but was instead just offered a spurt of violence and mysterious lesson. I liked Lafrance’s art — he has a heavy line and sort of dramatic, pulpy style — but I wanted more from the story.
Perhaps if there are future volumes of Fablewood, some of these characters and scenarios will be further developed. But as it is, I was left unsatisfied by a lot of what was here. I enjoyed reading this anthology and it’s worth a look, but for the most part, little here excited me. I don’t know how many of these creators I’ll seek out elsewhere.