An anthology collection of stories on the topic of history. These seven stories range from 6 to 8 pages in length. Stories cover a wide array of topics including: the sinking of the Titanic, the advent of tabletop RPGs, and the Red Terror of Soviet Russia.
Publisher: Gray Haven Comics
Editor: Erica J. Heflin & James O’Callaghan
Cover Artist: Tim Durning
Anthologies are interesting things. I happen to enjoy them, but I know people who don’t particularly care to bother with them. Anthologies take up a special place in my heart, because I like to see different creator’s takes on a given theme and how the threads sort of get pulled together by an editor.
I had the opportunity of having a chat with the editor of The Archives, Erica Heflin and she referred to it as a pet project. Some might be scared off by the idea of reading anyone’s pet project, worried that an editor’s love might blind them to its flaws but I for one don’t mind it. It also wasn’t a terrible hard sell with it’s fabulous cover and the fact that the larger theme was history. History is important, be it in rigid textbook form or in the easier to digest way of a narrative, and I have a soft spot for works of historical fiction especially when they cover events/narratives that aren’t frequently travelled. The Archives bridged that strange middle ground managing to present stories that were interesting on their own and in the context of the events that they were portraying. The entire project felt lovingly cobbled together using the the notion that history is populated by people and even radically disparate things (a WWI story and a tale of Dungeons & Dragons) have that in common.
The art in this book suits the stories. It still feels like a comic book, but the people that populate it are recognizable without getting too superhero-y. (I love superhero comics, don’t get me wrong, but these weren’t stories about the empowered so having the figures look the same would’ve been distracting.) Despite each story being drawn by a different person they still blended well together; I didn’t find myself turning the page and being totally taken out of the reading experience because of a radical style jump. It fits together.
Despite dealing with some bigger concepts like the importance of remembering the past and how the truth can be changed depending on who tells it, The Archives doesn’t really contain any material that I wouldn’t want a 10 year old to see. While this is a bit of a tangent, I think this is a pretty impressive thing. Finding comics that can be transitioned into classroom-acceptable reading (like for book reports and other required, but you get to chose the material sections) is easier said than done, so when a book comes along that can go there I sit up and take notice. I’m a long way from a classroom, but I would definitely recommend it to my friends who work in the field. It’s not a book for kids, but it’s one that I think anyone who likes history (or short stories) would enjoy.
While not for everyone The Archives is an anthology built around a concept that I enjoyed and if I were to discover that it became a series in the future, I know that I would pick up another issue. This book and others by Gray Haven Comics can be found on their website.