A Silent Army publishes it, but the cover is certainly hollering at me. The personality in the cursive/lowercase/uppercase font of the title gets my attention first. Behind is a mountainous tableau hatched in colour, complete with a waterfall, a dead tree and a highway billboard promising ‘new Pie Lumps’. There’s something a little dystopian about it, and I am drawn closer.
Inside Dailies 3 I find comics: over 60 pages and 30+ artists. There’s a wide range of illustration styles, story-telling techniques and topics. There is realistic work and whimsical work. There’s colour, and black and white.
‘It’s a Silent Army Publication,’ says Michael P Fikaris from Silent Army Comic Collective, Editor and Publisher of Dailies. ‘I call it [an army] because I’ve known [many] artists over the years. The silent part is that a lot of them are completely unknown.’
Fikaris’ editorial approach is to invite artists to submit. ‘I don’t censor anything,’ he says. Instead he qualifies contributors by their talent: ‘People whose work I really like and want to work with the more.’ Geography is also important. Dailies began as an anthology of comics by artists from our part of the world (South East Asia). This third issue, with Contributing Editor Tim Danko, has a focus on artists from Australia and New Zealand.
Fikaris’ hands-off editorial approach results in a noisy publication. But it’s a good noise – the kind that comes from healthy conversation and the exchange of ideas. There are stories from life: visiting the elderly in Nanna Time by G-Frenzy, learning to do wheelies in a piece by Tim Kidd and aging in Get Bitter by Edward Gains. There are pages without words: Indira Neville sets forth characters with wonderous and peculiar attachments that her title, Tail, promises. David Ghostpatrol presents a collection of dogs in all their goofy, earnest, curious, frustrated and bored ways.
Comics are often described as ‘sequential art’. Yet not all comics need be read ‘sequentially’. In fact some push traditional conventions of the medium. Fikaris’ ongoing series What Sort of Fool and Danko’s contributions to Dailies each play with panel sizing, ordering and orientation. While some of the work in Dailies 3 is funny, others are philosophical, ‘…What is Art? …Why am I here…?’ reads a caption from Fikaris’ page.
Artists like Brent Willis and Ralphi tip their hats to convention while remaining unique in story and style. Willis’ Tales from the Daily Commute includes a mirthful rendering of public-transport loudmouths (both in illustration and dialogue). Equally compelling but significantly different is Ralphi’s Bunny with just one piece of dialogue between the silhouetted characters. Leigh Rigozzi’s Free Association, presents a kind of visual poem including an illustration of a kitchen sink, the words ‘blood dimple’ and a couple of pieces of anthropomorphized mascarpone.
Dailies 3 has a diversity of voices. This means that most everyone will find something that they like, and probably something they don’t. Fikaris’ hopes the anthology acts as a catalogue: one that is mined by readers. There’s no theme, he says, ‘It’s more about the artists being able to have a voice for their work rather than pandering. There’s plenty of other comics anthologies for an audience that exists.’
Dailies 3 marks an evolution for the publication. This issue breaks from the larger tabloid format of issues one and two, and into a magazine format. It’s easier to read (although given that not all artists’ names are included on their pages, page numbers would be helpful). The content has also evolved since issue one. As the anthology’s title implies, Dailies was initially aimed at a play on newspaper funnies with the goal of getting artists to produce work daily. But by issue three, Fikaris notes there are, ‘more abstract or unique comics…not strips so much. More of an anthology done in a cheap, affordable format.’
Given the variety, there’s no guarantee that you’ll love all of it, but Dailies is, as Fikaris notes, ‘an affordable gamble. [Anyone] can spend six bucks and go, “Far out I’ve been a little bit enlightened by art!”’
Dailies 3 was launched at the Silent Army Comic Collective Storeroom in Melbourne. Copies can be bought at book and comic stores, via the Silent Army Website and at the Silent Army Comic Collective storeroom in Melbourne on Friday afternoons.
Pepi Ronalds is a Killings columnist. She has been published in Meanjin, Open Manifesto, A List Apart and more. Her blog, Future of Long Form was an Emerging Blog for the 2012 Melbourne Writers Festival. She’s on Twitter and Facebook, and has a website: pepironalds.com.