Various - As You Were: Issue Three [Book] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


As You Were: Issue Three [Book] (2014)

Silver Sprocket

As You Were Issue Three is the latest installation of the punk-comix anthology curated by Mitch Clem. As with the previous entries, Clem selects a wide variety of artists and gives them each a few pages to wax on the issues theme. Issue three's theme is "Big, big changes" and because of the heavy subject matter, Issue three is rightfully the meatiest release to date.

What's immediately striking is both how varied the subject matter is between the 28 contributors and how they approach the topic of changes at radically different angles. The majority of the contributors go for a solemn, reflective approach. Bill Pinkel tackles the topic of having kids in a frank, honest way that seems to broach the insecurity of finally letting go of the last grasp of "childhood" and fully embracing becoming an adult. Singular nom-de-plum "Meg" retells the tale of how she wound up in a mental institution, and skillfully, relies on a retelling of the facts rather than too much introspection.

The issue really jumps to life when some of the artists contract the serious subject matter with sillier facades. Liz Prince is in classic form, butting her gender identity issues against hilarious drawings of her alternatively moping and smiling, with and without zits. It both underscores the seriousness of a person's struggles as well as pokes fun at how self-serious people can be. Similarly, Ben Snakepit goes for a purely analytical piece, making the argument that "punx" bands, including Discharge, Blitz, and Bad Religion, should never try to spread their wings artistically. It's unclear if he's being tongue-in-cheek or not, and that sort of charmingly reveals Snakepit's underling personality.

The book opens with a comic right away. Clem did a thoughtful job of selecting artists with different styles and viewpoints, which gives this anthology purpose- a study of changes rather than a singular argument of what "change" means. Still, it would be nice if these pieces open with a short introduction from Clem, commenting on why he thinks the topic is worthy of study, or why he selected the artists that he did.

Art ranges from amateur doodles to professional grade etching, which really makes the whole compilation seem organic. There's not a gate to those with great skill, only to those that aren't being genuine, which really makes the release that much more punk. Not every piece here is a winner, but that's sort of the point. There's great shorts here, daring shorts, and some that are a little bland- but if you ask different people, you'd certainly get contrasting answers of which piece fits into which category. This issue is as much about the reader as it is the artists themselves.