Black / White
Review by Paul Bowler
Black / White is the brand new anthology collection from the Australian author Andrez Bergen, writer of the detective noir inspired superhero novel Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? This anthology features artwork by Canadian artists Dezz Rodriguez (Erl Cuervo) and Michael Grills (Runnin’ With a Gun), American Nathan St John (Baya), with British artist Andrew Chiy and Argentinean Marcos Vergar, alongside Australians Andrez Bergen and Matt Kyme (That Bullet Proof Kid & Tales to Admonish).
Published by IF COMMIX, Bergen and Kyme takes an innovative stance with Black / White, balancing contrasting tones of storytelling and art (both black and white) in this new Aussie iNDie anthology which, together with its impressive collection of international artists, explores the subtleties and subtexts which exist between them both.
With a focus on noir, together with a dark blend of comic humour, Black / White serves up a bold and unflinching collection of stories tackling numerous themes: including crime, suicide, and a chilling post-apocalyptic nightmare in a dystopian future.
The first of the six tales in this anthology, Zig Zag, features a man, cleaning a gun, one that has survived for a 100 years. The narrative here is delivered by Bergen along the left hand side of the page, while the art by Rodriguez dominates the right of the page. The noir style monologue is hauntingly relayed; a symphony of darkness and despair, which together with the uncanny twist at the end gets Black / White off to a fine start.
Get Busy takes us to a bustling night in a bar, where barman Ziggy studies the comings and going of his patrons. While the tone of this story is somewhat lighter, Andrez Bergen provides with a host of interesting character, with some great art by Marcos Vergar, this story necks a triple shot of vodka and delivers a surprise find in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Lin Leum Actress by Michael Grills and Andrez Bergen introduces us to a seductive woman as she admires herself in the mirror. A man just sits and watches her, admiring her beauty. Breakfast, toast and a shot of tequila, later, the man’s vision begins to goes dark, and we slowly learn why this is the last thing he will ever see. I really enjoyed this story, tightly plotted and with intriguing characters, its one of the best in this collection.
The Writing on the Wall introduces another great female character by Bergen, a nomadic vigilante, who catches youths Marie and Jo-Jo daubing graffiti on a wall in a dark apocalyptic landscape. This stranger uses a clever play on words and bullets to meet out justice according to her design. The art by Nathan St John really encapsulates the dark and gritty tone of this story, with great visual flourishes, this story really stands out from the crowd.
Waiting for Sod All is the tale of married woman, she is ill, and it is breaking her heart to see her husband as he clings to the last vestiges of hope they once shared. The pain of her illness has become too great now, so the woman makes one final choice, in a heartrending move were her salvation is only phone call away. With story and art by Andrez Bergen, this is perhaps the darkest tale of all in this entire anthology. Bergen’s unflinching approach to the subject matter here is polarized within the vivid blend of shadows and white imagery, weaving a dark narrative through the deeply emotional impact of a love eroded in a sea of pain and tears.
Come Out Swinging by Andrez Bergen and Andrew Chiu is a short little story, where a man saves woman from her captor, which concluded with a snappy punch line. This single page rounds off the anthology and brings Black / White to a close.
Black / White is an excellent collection of stories, the distinct film noir and dark apocalyptic style filters through every page, creating a near perfect synergy with each story. The various artistic styles also complement each other very well, none of the stories outshines or clashes with those around it, and it is perhaps this element above all that makes Black / White such an enjoyable and eclectic collection of stories. Andrez Bergen has excelled himself with this issue, superb stories, a great team of artists, and a striking cover by Matt Kyme, ensures Black / White will have a lasting impression on your imagination and senses long after the final page has turned.