Launched in late 2012, VS Comics is a new digital anthology presided over by Mike Garley and James Moran, bringing to the market a monthly dose of original work from a number of creators across a range of genres. Available through a number of sources, including iTunes and Amazon, the debut issue delivers over 55 pages of content for between £2 and £2.50 (dependant on source), something few current comics, be they digital or physical, can boast.
Volume of content alone is not an automatic indicator of quality of course, but by the end of issue one there can little doubt that this modest price tag represents serious value for money. Featuring four radically different stories ranging from supernatural horror set in contemporary London (Day+Night) to the bizarre galaxy-trotting adventures of a young woman and what looks like a huge, mutated fish (Tabby & Trout) there exists here something for every palate.
However, anthology comics can often become victims of their eclectic natures, particularly in terms of the standard of art and writing. In this respect the editorial team at VS Comics must be given great credit, as despite the varied nature of styles present, each piece feels in keeping with the overall package. In fact, the variation in art between the stories represents one of its particular highlights, with the detailed realism of Eponymous contrasting nicely the more cartoony style of Swan Song, for example.
The pace of the different stories varies greatly also; the bouncing technicolor mayhem of Tabby & Trout juxtaposed against the more thoughtful approach of Swan Song, the creeping dread of Night+Day contrasting with the all-action blockbuster feel of Eponymous. Married with the consistent production values this variety gives it a richness and substance greater than many other collections of independent work available.
Another exciting aspect is that all the pieces within are creator-owned, something that comes across in the inventiveness on display. Although it is clear that the editorial and production staff have worked hard to ensure that the standard is universally high the originality demonstrates a refreshing level of creative freedom, and this is both immediately satisfying and promising for future issues.
VS Comics’ website indicates that it will continue to include a blend of experienced teams and new talent which will certainly make it a fascinating proposition moving forward, both as a showcase for fresh works from old hands and for work from newcomers too.
At a time when the digital delivery of comic content is still finding its feet this project represents a new approach that will hopefully become more widespread in future. The next issue is scheduled for a February 2013 release and if the level of quality is maintained then it is strongly advised that those interested in exciting new comics both catch up with issue one and pick up the next.