Review: “IF – A Crime Anthology” (Alterna Comics – Monochrome May Special)

Welcome back to The Splintering’s Monochrome May event! Today we’re featuring IF – A Crime Anthology, a black and white anthology book published by Alterna Comics.

With the title of A Crime Anthology, it might be expected that all of the the stories would be gritty or noir mysteries featuring “hard-boiled” detectives or Scorsese-esque gangsters, but this isn’t the case. Some are more horror, sci-fi, even superhero, though all with a “crime” element to them, so that “Crime Anthology” moniker is pretty loose.

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Each of the 38 stories has a page count that varies from a high mark of 16 pages to a low of just a single page, though most are in the 8 – 10 page range. This means that some of the tales are more one-off gags, while others actually have space to tell a full narrative with somewhat developed characters. There are a few stories that read like setups for larger projects, some of which look like they never came together, at least not that I could find (i.e. Citizen Scorn, Graveyard Ballad).

There are so many creators involved, it doesn’t make sense to list them all here.* In any case, there is a wide array of talent on display, with some top-notch artwork and some other, erm… rougher examples. Certainly personal taste should be taken into account, though. There are a few tales that we clearly converted from a colorized original image to black and white (Enforcer and Citizen Scorn come to mind), and the result is some difficult to read text and muddier images without distinct visual details. It’s also worth mentioning that the book’s contents are well-deserving of the “mature readers” distinction, as there is quite a bit of the old ultra violence on display.

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The stories that I personally took a shine to were Golden Years, Last Thing on the List, Helpless, and The Priest and the Parishioner, each for different reasons. One had a really unexpected twist, another felt like a high-octane Guy Ritchie film pitch, another was essentially a lighthearted joke with a fun punchline, and one was a just a good old-fashioned revenge tale. No, not respectively. I’ll let you discover on your own which is which. I should mention, however, that the images selected for some of the title pages give away some pretty key twists or plot points, which is a bit of an editorial faux pas, if you ask me.

Anthology books of this kind are always tricky to review, and Alterna’s IF – A Crime Anthology is no exception. There are so many different creators and styles that it’s difficult to have a unified opinion of the product as a whole. It’s almost certain that there will be stories to your liking, and just as likely that there will be those you don’t care for. Still, $15 is a good price for a girthy 336-page book, and I still feel comfortable recommending it if you are one who enjoys quick, bite-sized reads and a variety of styles.

You can order a copy of IF – A Crime Anthology directly from the Alterna Comics online store here.

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*Now I will list all of the contributors to the IF – A Crime Anthology here because it seems like the right thing to do…you know, for search engine optimization…

Writers: Brian Level, Cody Sousa, Ashley Robinson, Jason Inman, Pat Shand, Zach Bassett, Mark Bertolini, Glenn Matchett, Chas! Pangburn, Shaun Manning, Tyler Wentland, Massimo Rosi, Bob Frantz, Kevin Cuffe, R. Thomas Favino, Jed McPherson, Terry Mayo, Jon Clark, Dave Swartz, Dan Sheppard, Erik Whalen, Andre Mateus, Andrew M. Jackson, Ashley Robinson, Crow Ra, Nicolas Krizan, Ben Rosenthal, Daniel Santos, Luis Roldan, James E Roche, Rob Pilkington, Glenn Moane, Jeffrey Bridges, Jerry Willoughby, Paul Axel, Jacoby Salcedo, Hugo Boylan, Cj Standal, Mike Garley, Susan Bridges and Hannu Kesola.

Artists: K.R. Whalen, Joseba Morales, Jon Clark, Ross Radke, Dave Swartz, Tim Switalski, Chris Shehan, Chris Pongpat, Erik Whalen, Luis Cavaco, Vincenzo Riccardi, Antonio Brandao, Dylan Andrews, Zach Bassett, Todor Hristov, Axur Eneas, Francisco Munoz, Rapha Lobosco, Deanna Brigman, Carlos Angeli, Tyler Wentland, Iacopo Calisti, David Bishop, Nicolas Krizan, Crow Ra, Eduardo Mello, Antti Kosonen, Aurelio Moreno Cabanes, Benjamin A.E. Filby, Nenad Cvitcanin, Francesco Della Santa, Jacoby Salcedo, Phillip Sevy, Andry W. Clift, Juan Romera and Adrian Bago Gonzalez.

Cover by Peter Simeti.

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Thanks for reading! To check out more of The Splintering’s Monochrome May content, go here.


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