1X: Short Stories by Charles Butler

Comic: 1X
Release date: September 2014
Writer and artist: Charles Butler
Publisher: a Planet Z Production
Cover: full-color
Interior: full-color
Synopsis: Four self-contained tales of the good, the strange and the mythical, collected in one genre-hopping comic book.

The Deal

Charles Butler brought this anthology to Kickstarter. The Kickstarter set me back 8,00 USD for the comic + shipping to Europe. It arrived on my doorstep on October 8th 2014.

The Feel

The 32-page issue was professionally printed in China. The standard size comic was printed on shiny stock paper. The cover-print wraps around front to back and the paper is slightly thicker than the inside pages, everything is held together by two evenly placed saddle stitches. There are no issues with the print I received, the paper is slick, the colors are slightly darker than the ones I'd seen on the Kickstarter but only slightly so and the pages were cut perfectly. If I have to say something bad about anything I'd point out that some of the lettering was, in the first story 'Memories of Ysabel' a little close to the edges of the page. But that's the only thing I could find and it doesn't look like the printer could have done anything about that. They were probably set a little too close to the edges. 

The Stories and the look

Memories of Ysabel - Ten page story about a man who is desperate to lose the memories of his lost love. The ten pages build the story up nicely, it never feels rushed and the ending is one of those that make you think about what happens next. It has a very distinctive almost sketchy drawing style. Colors used are black, white and about 50% gray. The story flows well, some of the lettering could be less close to the paper edges as some have been cut off by the printer. Luckily this is the only story that has this problem. I think this is a very good short. Just long enough to be interesting and not too long where you can see the ending coming for miles. Well done.

Withered World -  Althera follows in her dead brothers footsteps on a quest to find the eternal tree. The lands of Althera have all but dried up and only the eternal tree can restore them to the way they were. 
A full color story, with dark and rocky backgrounds that brings out the desolation of their lands. Nicely drawn rocky landscapes, not overly detailed. Altheras quest for the tree is not overly documented but that's not to be expected in a four page story. I didn't see the end coming, but it does give you a sense of 'Why didn't I see that coming?'. In this second story Butler has taken to making much more of the background. It needs it too, the sense of desolation and death follows you trough the different panes as the story folds out. I think this is my favorite story of this anthology. 

Second Nature - A research director is the only survivor on a science space vessel and rescued by a special ops team. 
Again a full color story, with dark highlights that give you an eerie feeling that something is up. You immediately get that the research director is the bad guy, but as so often is there's a catch. Of the four stories this one is my least favorite mostly to do with the ending that I did see coming. That saying I did like the artwork, I think it benefited from the brightly colored highlights that were used.  

The Albino - A cowboy travels the wild west carried by The Albino, unaware of where he's being taken and even why he's being taken. 
This three page story is beautifully drawn. So different from the earlier stories you'd almost think it was drawn by a different artist. I love the two toned, pen stroked artwork. The consistent panes makes for easy reading and the lettering and type used fits the artwork. The story should be part of a much larger story. The ending made me long for more. Where did The Albino come from? How did the cowboy get to travel with The Albino? And more questions like this all came to mind. I feel this could be so much more, the artwork is great. It deserves more pages, a bigger story. I want it to be bigger. Much bigger. (I think you get the point.) 

The Conclusion

If you like short stories and anthologies, with different styles of stories and art and even different genres then that's a good reason to get this comic. The first two stories were very clever, the third was not my cup of tea but I think it will appeal to others and the fourth felt like it was part of a bigger story that I haven't read yet (that's not a bad thing). Over all I think you can't go wrong here. It can be yours for less than 1 USD per story. I have to (again) say that I'm very intrigued with the fourth story, it deserves more than these three pages. I hope Butler will pick it up and work on it in his spare time away from the banjo.
Professionally printed and safely shipped.

How to get a copy

Your best chance is to go to Charles Butlers website. He's a musician from Nashville, TN and this is his personal website where he sells his music and now his first comic book. The 1X short story anthology will set you back 3,50 USD + shipping to your end of the world. Payment can be made with any credit-card. If you see it in any store please let me know and I'll link to them from here.
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