In the mid 1990s Scenes from the Inside was the landmark anthology of the UK art comics scene, showcasing the best home grown talent and linking it to work from overseas. Other anthologies had done this work before, notably Escape and Inkling, but in the past five years very little has come onto the scene. With Toenail Clippings from Ireland gaining international recognition it looked like we were onto a good thing, and, along with Sentence, Sturgeon White Moss looks to continue this trend.
When I reviewed the first issue I wasn't sure if SWM would live up to my expectations. With this second issue I'm still not 100%, but I think this is more my unreasonable aspirations than failures on the part of the magazine itself.
What is an anthology for? No-one has ever given a satisfactory answer other than that they are a good thing. I like to think they act as markers in the emerging history of the scene or even the greater medium. They celebrate existing standards and give the up-and-coming creators something to aim for and superscede. The American anthology Non is a good recent example - established as a reaction against the status quo it became the establishment itself as the next generation of mini-comix kids reacted against it. But I digress.
Sturgeon White Moss excites me as a concept. While produced in London and with a strong UK contigent of cartoonists, it is edited by Sylvia Farago, a Canadian resident in this country, and from the outset pushed an international agenda. Most anthologies start local and, as they grow and develop contacts, gravitate to including other nationalities. It is perhaps a sign of maturity that Farago bypassed this stage and went straight for the world view.
As for the contents, like all anthologies it's a bit hit and miss, but more hit than miss in my view. There are some lovely pieces here - Jeffrey Lewis impresses again and Matt Abbiss makes good use of a larger canvas, and like all good anthologies there are many names here that are new to me. Overall it's a good package and worth the price tag. And then there's the Dave Cooper cover. That Farago can get one of the biggest names in US comix to grace her magazine on the second issue shows a seriousness of mission and indicated there are great things to come.
Sturgeon White Moss #2 - A4 48pg, col cvr. £4.99, published by White Moss Press.