I got a copy of the Weakly Comics Xtra Large Annual through Kickstarter this year. It was shipped out during the Spring, right before TCAF, and it ended up getting filed away for another time. That time, for me, was last week. The Kickstarter video for the campaign was a little weird, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that the book itself defied expectations.
The Weakly Comics Xtra Large Annual is a >100 page anthology of comics that is extremely hard to categorize. The colors of the cover are harsh and psychedelic. The comics are wild and uninhibited. The construction of the Weakly Comics Xtra Large Annual is
complexity upon complexity. If torn into pieces, the anthology would be at least 4 different books and a set of screen printed posters. CMYK inkjet, risograph printing, and screen printing are all employed in the book’s innards. John Pham has been experimenting with some of the same construction techniques, but this is above and beyond. The care and dedication that would be
required to construct the physical object borders on obsessive.
There’s another obsession at play here – an obsession with creative freedom. By letting creators do basically whatever the hell they want, and by seemingly saying yes to every idea that got thrown at the wall, the Weakly Comics Xtra Large Annual is a mix of experimental art comics and more standard indie fare. While the book is a gangly, lurching mess of an object, its editors/architects have created an anthology that coheres to itself and works as a unified object, if only because of its insanity.
Like many anthologies, there is a quality gradient to the selections; The work of Tommi PG, Beatrix Urkowitz, Michael Hawkins, and Max Huffman in particular stand out, and there are other creators whose other work I will seek out. Brevity seems to be at the soul of the Weakly Comics Xtra Large Annual. Individual comics don’t last long, and most creators only have a few pages to work with, so if a particular work isn’t extremely successful, it doesn’t have a big enough footprint to flatten the anthology.
As much an experience as it is a work of art, the Weakly Comics Xtra Large Annual is an anthology that defies both explanations and expectations. It’s a spectacle. If you can find a copy, I recommend you get it.
The Weakly Comics collective has a tumblr: @weaklycomics. Check that out. I don’t know where you buy this thing – hopefully you can get a copy at CAB or one of the East coast shows this year.