I was excited to see Patrick Keck’s (www.patrickkeck.blogspot.com) name on this book, since he was responsible for Ratnest #2, one of my favorite finds during my tenure here at Poopsheet. He and Malachi Ward were the only names I recognized going in, but I found some pleasant new surprises within this anthology, available for $8 (including shipping) from Keck’s blogger site. “No Escape Breakfast” by Chris Cilla employs a Robert Crumb quality to the work, and it’s a good early indication of the “A” work found beyond it. Thomas Stemrich and Joe Sobota are responsible for the text piece “Reds, Pinks, and Whites,” which is a fickle, honest, direct, and unflinching look at societal fondness for the “middle.” In all our quest for completion and destination, we tend to skip the foreplay and gloss over the aftermath found in most social relationships. It’s all about fading passion and is a powerful little piece of work. “Rescue Boat” by Weston Wilson, along with spot illustrations by Dan & Ang Bouse, is probably my favorite of the lot. It’s about the helpless desperation of a pair of travelers apparently lost at sea. Their humanity simply begins to break down and it’s great commentary on just how fragile existence is. I loved the line “Sitting up, my bones are filled inexplicably with the deep sigh of sickly nostalgia, loneliness, longing for the time when it was life that stretched out before us in a great expanse of never-ending blue.” It’s like a more intricate version of Hemingway’s personal contemplation. The tale ends with “I forget my name. Where I come from. How I got here. My favorite song. My mother’s face. No past, no future. An animal gorging.” This denouement is perfect in its ability to capture the setting of the scene and the dire mood it needs to convey. This is easily an “A+” piece of writing. “The Veiled Monk of Gall” by Michael Reisinger and Patrick Keck is probably the most linear comic in the bunch and is a terrific piece of artistry from Keck. “Poppies Carry On” by Will Iversen uses an elongated and slightly cartoony art style, but radiates the alarming sense of the kinetic energy during war. Bogwitch contains all good artists and all of the text pieces are written well. Overall, there were a couple of rare duds that fell a little flat for me, but it’s actually filled with mostly “A” work, and there are even some “A+” entries. It’s a great anthology that’s highly recommended, one of the rare exceptions that proves the rule about anthologies being incapable of maintaining a consistent level of quality from piece to piece. Grade A.