Whether we’re talking about books or graphic novels, I love short fiction. In my opinion, anyone with fingers, writing implements, and adequate motivation can write a novel. Short stories however, take a lot more skill to get right. This is especially true for those printed in graphic novels because the author has to consider both how the story will be told and how it will be drawn. Because of my love for short fiction and comic books, I’m always on the look out for new graphic anthologies. As such, I’m excited that Iron Circus Comics provided me with a copy of one of their upcoming anthologies, You Died: An Anthology of the Afterlife.
You Died: An Anthology of the Afterlife is due out on March 23rd. This anthology is a collection of stories that all center around death and what comes after. The twenty-four stories in this anthology tackle this theme in different ways. Some focus on the departed, some focus on those the departed has left behind, and others focus on what lies in store for the departed now that they’ve left the mortal coil. One thing they all have in common, each story looks at death as a natural part of life. True to the death positivity movement, these stories treat death as something to be honored rather than dreaded or mourned.
“What Eats Us” by Letty Wilson gives readers a glimpse into a portion of the circle of life that is rarely discussed. The detritivores of the animal kingdom are given center stage. It was a very wise choice on the part of editors Andrea Purcell and Kel McDonald to start the anthology with this story. Wilson draws decomposition in a fun, yet informative way, throughout the entire story. I loved the illustration style Ahueonao uses in the story “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”. This retelling of the Mesopotamian myth was a very entertaining read. It had a lot of humor and nods to the modern world, though I felt like it was a little too long.
James Maddox and Jeremy Lawson’s “Beyond the Cosmos” is a very clever science-fiction tale. I love their interpretation of the grim reaper. He’s really cute and not what one usually expects out of a personification of death. The stunning art in “First Law” by M. Cat. White really blew me away. This story’s style is like a manga drawn as modern art. It’s one of the shorter stories in this anthology but leaves one of the largest impressions. White truly makes the most of every word that makes up the story. I really liked the plot of “Funeral in Foam” by Casey Gilly. It’s a fun little road trip story. Sort of a cross between National Lampoon’s Vacation and that scene in the Big Lebowski where they scatter Donny’s ashes. I wasn’t as impressed by Raina Telgemeir’s art, unfortunately. Some panels had great detail while others looked comparatively unrefined.
To quote what Caitlin Doughty says in the book’s forward, “You Died is a memento mori for the modern age.” These stories are a reminder that death comes for us all, but that doesn’t mean our end. Rather, it’s the start of the next part of our journey. I loved all the diversity featured in this anthology. There are stories that feature characters of many different cultures, racial-ethnic identities, and sexual orientations. As with any graphic anthology, the quality of the art varies, but I enjoyed seeing so many unique styles. For the most part, I’d say there are more stories with high quality art than there are with lower quality artwork. The sheer variety of different stories is impressive. There were some that are geared solely toward relaying information and I found those very boring. Others just didn’t make much sense. Luckily, there are just as many stories that are funny, inspiring, joyous, or a combination of all three. In the end, death comes for all of us. One way to prepare yourself for the inevitable…is to buy You Died when it releases on March 23rd.
Edited by: Andrea Purcell and Kel McDonald
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Buy
Iron Circus provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review