Rating: 3.5/5 – A Good Deal, with the Potential to be a Great One.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
Publisher Frederick L. Jones spells it out on page 5 of the first issue of Saturday AM:
“…the next Pokemon or Marvel or Star Wars is already here! It’s not waiting for some large company to find it nor for some comic book website to suggest that this artist or that one is the new “IT” person worthy of our fandom. It’s simply been waiting for any creator who wants to tell their story to have a platform to do it.”
To that end he created Saturday AM, a digital-only anthology of “talented amateurs” from across the globe who have a story to tell and just need the outlet to tell it. You can find it here: http://www.saturday-am.com/
Comic anthologies aren’t new, but digital-only ones are, relatively speaking. It’s only been a few years since Shonen Jump abandoned its North American print version in favor of going digital only. Don’t look for Saturday AM in print. It exists only in digital format (though there’s mention of eventual print collections of the stories contained within the anthology). As with most anthologies, some stories tend to stand out over others, but different readers will likely disagree on which stories are the standout ones. With that in mind, this review won’t focus on any particular title, but on Saturday AM as a whole, and what readers (and more importantly, subscribers) can expect from it.
First, let’s re-examine that phrase “talented amateurs” from the first paragraph. Those weren’t my words, but Jones’. The point being, these people are not household words (assuming any comic creator whose name isn’t Stan Lee is a household word in a home where comics aren’t a mainstay), but they’re certainly talented enough that they ought to be. Indeed, most of what I saw, from Apple Black to Bully Eater to RACE! ON!, showcased talent that was as good as any known artist out there. Maybe the safe cliché would be to say they’re “Not Ready for Prime Time”, but if they aren’t…they will be soon.
The book has a really sharp design, with a look as professional as any magazine you’d buy off the rack. It’s almost a shame this book doesn’t exist in print format, as it would look pretty sharp and certainly attract enough attention to at least warrant a pickup if not a purchase. A consistent look throughout each anthology – and across the three issues I read – give Saturday AM a solid foundation to build on.
Consider, as well, the price tag. Saturday AM will run you $5 for a one-year digital subscription (roughly 20 issues planned for the remainder of 2014). Forego a coffee or two at a certain coffee syndicate and you’ll have a year’s worth of bi-weekly issues to pore through. Most print comics are edging closer to the $5 mark for a single issue and aren’t offering nearly as much content. Heck, most crowdsourced books won’t go that low for their low-tier single issue digital offerings. All things being equal, the price tag made a subscription to Saturday AM a no-brainer for me.
However, all things are not equal, and where the book stumbles is trying to serve too many masters. One volume (of the three reviewed) was light on actual comic content while offering copious interviews with manga creators. Another volume had a prose section of the e-book Sky Punk by Mario Savosi. In addition, interviews about 3D Printing, while interesting, further confused the actual identity of the anthology. While there’s nothing wrong with any of this extra content (some of the interviews were quite good), it left me wondering who this magazine is trying to attract as an audience, and how long that audience will stick around if there is too much of one type of content they are not interested in and not enough of another type that they are.
Saturday AM has the potential to be one of the greatest web subscriptions a comics fan could ask for. It’s not quite there yet, but it seems fairly certain that it will arrive, probably sooner than we think. The price is certainly worth what you get: a collection of interesting stories from creators with enough skill and passion to tell them. Get in on this now…it could be one of the best deals going in comics short of giving it away for free.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow – email@example.com
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