Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #91 by Drew Barth

A Short Respite from Spooks

While it is the most wonderful time of the year for spooks, it’s also a wonderful time right now as the newest ShortBox has arrived in the mail. This edition of ShortBox is a little different as it is the product of a Kickstarter campaign, but that doesn’t mean the fantastic work inside is limited to only backers as everything is currently available to order. It is nice, however, to still receive a package of comics with a Dip Dab and a fabric print by Jillian Tamaki to round things out. As with every ShortBox in the past, this collection of short comics showcases some of the best the medium has to offer and further cements Zainab Akhtaras one of the best curators comics could ask for.

For this ShortBox, we have works like Melissa Chan’s Interim—a crow and a person endlessly wandering a city; Pipette & Dudley’s Charming Dog Adventure Comic by Charlotte Mei centers on the regional princess Pipette and her dog, Dudley; ghosts almost sell their afterlives to a capitalist scheme in Aminder Dhaliwal’s Dead End Jobs for Ghosts; Emma Hunsinger explores the details of an amicable break-up that’s deeper than the protagonist wants to admit in She Would Feel the Same; and Núria Martinez’s Outspace probes that intersection of online games and personal contact. Each story is its own unique take on how the medium can operate—from oil painted panels to pen and ink drawings—and none of these works feel the same when reading through them.

What is the most interesting about this edition of ShortBox is the way each of these comics deals with interpersonal relationships. This theme lays at the heart of each story, be it person to dog, person to person, or ghost to person. The exploration of how people can connect with one another and how those connections can be tenuous creates this really great emotional arc going through all of the comics included. We’re able to see how people come together, break up, make new connections, find new ways of exploring their worlds, and reach out to the people they love all over the course of a few pages. For these comics, there’s really nothing like them in the world right now that dives deep into how people act with other people—the emotional honesty with these relationships is refreshing.

I don’t think comics would be the same without the work Zainab Akhtar has put into ShortBox over the past few years. There is nothing like it in the medium and it’s the reason that comics feel like they’re flourishing on a global scale more than they ever have in the past. Because, again, there’s just something about getting a box of good comics in the mail that hasn’t been replicated anywhere else.

Get excited. Get some comics.

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.