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Flight December 17, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Comics, Reviews.
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Comics are many things, but they are ultimately a means of telling stories, limited only by the imaginations of the artists that work behind the scenes. In this regard, Flight is an interesting compendium that showcases the strengths of comics as a storytelling medium.

The simplest way of describing Flight is to say it is an off-the-beaten-track title by talented artists simlarly under the mainstream radar. Beyond that, it is difficult to pin down exactly what Flight is about for the simple reason that it is an anthology about anything, everything or nothing in particular. When the first installment came out, it seemed the featured stories derived their theme from the banner title, as many of them did in some way involve flight or flying. But this may have been unintended, merely coincidental at best. Indeed, it might be more appropriate to think of Flight as a collection of “flights of fancy” allowing its contributors to tell stories that might otherwise not have seen the light of day had they not been collected in this fashion.

The casual reader may find Flight vexing. Each of the three books released to date contain collections of largely unrelated short stories – about twenty or so of them anywhere between four and twelve pages long – that cannot be more different from one another. This is true in both substance and form. Some stories are lighthearted while others are dark; there are stories that border on science fiction and fantasy, and others that focus on the real and perhaps otherwise mundane. Each of these is presented in a very distinctive visual style, and in many cases there are pages and panels on end that do not even contain a single word of text. Hence, readers accustomed to graphic novels that flesh out an overarching story and prefer their comics presented in a consistent art style may find themselves out of their comfort zone with Flight.

Yet those looking for something different will find that Flight has plenty to offer in spades. In this respect, the title’s diversity is precisely its strength. Like any anthology, some stories and artists will curry readers’ favor more than others. But the best stories are those that are either framed as modern day fairy tales (such as Jake Parker’s The Robot and the Sparrow or Joanna Carneiro’s La Sonadora) or are presented such that they can only be described as animation in print, usually by those who have worked as either animators or storyboard artists for animated productions (Michel Gagne and Justin Ridge come to mind). At the very least, Flight will expose readers to a slew of talented artists to watch out for in the future, such as Kazu Kibuishi, who does not get enough credit as Flight’s editor and art director, on top of his own wonderful contributions to the anthology.

Indeed, those who pigeonhole comics as “superhero-saves-the-world” entertainment will find little of that in Flight, despite its fair share of the unusual and the fantastic. But they will find a host of other things besides that are equally entertaining. Those interested in checking out what Flight is all about would do well to drop by the series’s official blog, or maybe pick up a copy of the second volume (the one with the cover in black, as pictured above), which arguably has the best to offer of the three installments available today. It will be well worth it, if only to see these creators’ imaginations take flight.

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