Flip: Volume 1
edited by Jack Briglio
Markosia (74 pages, $14.99 paperback, $6.99 eBook, December 21, 2018)
What’s that line from The Twilight Zone? “Imagine if you will…” or something, right?
I’ve been teaching a high school creative writing course recently, and one of the things I’ve loved is encouraging my students to explore the question of “What If?” as they’re brainstorming ideas. Once we get past the cliched stuff like “What if Germany won the Second World War?” they come up with some really powerful ideas, since “What If” can lead you in all sorts of crazy directions.
Mind you, all speculative fiction has a “What If” quality, so to say that I’ve been reading a lot of that kind of book lately is a bit redundant. For this post though, I’m thinking of the kind of story that twists things just slightly into the unknown, whether it’s Mary Robinette Kowal lobbing an asteroid into the United States in The Calculating Stars or Guy Kay turning the early Renaissance a “quarter turn to the fantastic” in A Brightness Long Ago. Sometimes it’s historical fiction, and sometimes it’s turning our world slightly askew, which is what’s intrigued me about the first volume of Flip, a new comics anthology edited by Jack Briglio.
Each short comic in this anthology “flips” the world in some small way that has huge consequences. For example, in “Retire Early” by Marcello Bondi (with art by Francesco Della Santa and Salvatore Coppola), everyone is entitled to a pension … but that pension is given when you’re young, so you can enjoy your life before needing to go to work. This one got me thinking about my students and how their youth is spent worrying about school, scholarships, post-secondary and setting themselves up for a career, instead of enjoying being a kid. How bad would a youth-age pension be, really? (Yes, probably terrible, but still.)
In the case of “Gorillas in the Ring” by Derek Künsken (with art by Wendy Muldon), the food for thought side of the story hides behind the silliness of gorilla wrestling – honest-to-god, luchador wrestlers strapped to gorillas to enter the ring. Aside from the fact that want to know where these gorillas came from (and knowing Derek, there’s definitely some deep bioengineering research behind the scenes) the real story here isn’t the gorillas, but how one character uses his wrestling persona and his gorilla as masks, inadvertently hurting his partner in the process. Wearing a mask or wearing a gorilla are apparently the same thing.
Throughout Flip, every “what if” angle incorporates great character and story depth, on top of fabulous art in a bunch of different styles. That this is just the first in what might be many volumes makes it all the better. Like I said, that question “What If” can go a long way.
Like podcasts? Brandon has just launched a limited first season of “Broadcasts from the Wasteland,” where he and fellow author Evan May sit down for casual chats with other Canadian writers. Listen to guests like featuring Derek Künsken, Kelly Robson, Marie Bilodeau, Tanya Huff, Jay Odjick and more right here: broadcastsfromthewasteland.com