Gestalt: Always Room For Pleasant Surprises

By | Saturday, May 26, 2012 Leave a Comment
I like comics as a medium, and one of the things I find continually frustrating is the U.S.-focused attention in comics news. There's been some headway made in Japanese news, thanks to manga and anime, but we really don't hear much about other continents. Now, to be fair, a comic that's written in a language other than English and isn't translated has little chance for success in an English-speaking country. But there are, believe it or not, many publishers who print comics that were made in other countries but still printed in English. NBM is probably the biggest publisher of European comics in the U.S. and I'd wager that most of you reading this don't have any books on your shelf from them.

So, lately, I've been actively looking for more comics that come from outside the United States. From countries that view the world from a different perspective, possibly pointing out some truths that I haven't been able to see from within America's borders. I was quite happy, then, to hear from the folks at Gestalt Comics. They're a comics publisher out of Australia. Though they've been around since 2005, this was the first I'd heard of them.

Well, that's not hugely surprising, given the industry. Their American distributor is Last Gasp, which is a fine company but it's fighting against the distribution monopoly that is Diamond. So there's a fairly small percentage of comic shops that ever use Last Gasp. But Gestalt is also available via Graphicly, so you can still get your (virtual) hands on their publications.

There are several titles that Gestalt has that sound interesting. The only one I've been able to sample so far is Unmasked, which has a take on superheroes that I don't recall seeing before. Mark Waid did a series several years ago called Empire in which the bad guy won, and what would the world look like after that. In Christian Read and Emily Smith's Unmasked, the heroes have won, and pretty well put the complete kibosh on super-villainy. What does that world look like? And you might say, "But, Sean, wasn't that the plot of Squadron Supreme?" Yes, but that was told from the heroes' perspective. Unmasked looks at the world from the villains' perspective. It's those two combined angles that I don't think I've seen before. It's only one issue in so far, but it's definitely a good start. His Dream of the Skyland and The Eldritch Kid also look intriguing, but I haven't seen those yet.

I've a bit of a skeptic when it comes to new comic book companies. Publishing is a tough business, and comic publishing is even tougher. I could probably count on one hand the number of even moderately successful comic companies that have launched in the past couple of decades. You've got to really have your stuff together to make a go of it. I like what I'm seeing in Gestalt so far, and I hope they can keep up their commitment to quality storytelling and reach a wide enough audience in the process.
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