Let’s be honest: in the theater of comic books, Marvel and DC are essentially big-ass Broadway shows with huge budgets and major corporate backing. Now enter Outré: a start-up publisher that strives to read more like street theater — they’re debut issue, Outré #1, is infused with a comics-for-the-people sentiment that makes this book both a delight to read, and a breath of fresh-air.
Here’s the official description from Outré’s website:
Initially Outré will be published online two or three times a year. It will be available for free as a downloadable file, which we will promote and spread through as many channels as possible. Each issue will feature four stories by four different creative teams, as well as two in-depth creator conversations and four stand-alone illustrations playing on the theme of the issue. Each story in Outré should be completely self-contained and exactly eight pages in length – no exceptions. Naturally, each story remains the property of the creators involved.
Wait. Did you catch that? This book is free; it allows the contributors to retain their rights; and it publishes in-depth profiles of creators toiling in the comics field. While the identified mission of Outré is to “raise awareness” about comics as a storytelling medium, their approach reveals a deeper intent: to raise the profile of the actual storytellers themselves. If you’re looking for new creators to fall in love with, an anthology is a great place to start, and Outré seems to know that. The final page of Outré #1 is simply a roll call of every artist and writer that contributed with direct links to their websites. The invitation is clear: if you like what you see, go get more. In an industry that sometimes treats creators like fast food treats its cows, this is new.
The innovation of this project is so remarkable, that it makes the sometimes uneven execution of particular stories totally forgivable. While the script of “My Universe Expands Until I Have No Center,” by Alex Wilson was compelling, this story about a girl turning bionic was trying to cover too much ground in too little time (although the art by Ben Garriga made the fast ride sharp and beautiful). Story wise, “I, Carus,” penned by Glen Arseneau and illustrated by Valentin Ramon was the standout. Reminiscent of the anxieties some had about the real Hadron Collider, “I, Carus” tells the story of a scientist who is so invested in the success of his particle collider that he’s willing to risk the safety of the universe. It’s hard to tell a story in eight pages, but “I,Carus” hits the mark. And many others come close.
The real joy of Outré #1 is the art. As a reader, you’ll discover new styles and new names, and each contributor seems keenly aware that this project offers an unparalleled opportunity to shine. And they do. I can’t wait to read the next volume. But for now, go get your copy here.