In Summer 2016, I had the pleasure of reviewing the historical fiction anthology, Dates. Well, it was such a hit that editors Zora Gilbert and Cat Parra started working on a second collection. Today, we’re looking at Dates Anthology, Volume 2.
The sequel was even better than the original. The mix of prose and text appealed to me. You may know that I have, for many years collected doujinshi put together by groups of people in Japan. One of the features of these privately published journals (or “coterie literary magazines,” as the online translators like to say) is the mix of text and comics. Like ‘zines, doujinshi give creators a way to express their work in any media that suits them. Switching back and forth from text stories to comics gave me a chance to change the pace and tone, so that I didn’t just read this through without stopping to enjoy a bite here or there.
In general, I found most of the stories to be good and a surprising number were excellent, with a pleasant diversity of time, place, ethnicity, perspective and voice. The stories were strong – many of them focusing on gender presentation, gender roles and gender identity, as well as sexuality. I quite liked Gwen C. Katz’s “The Ibex Tattoo” and “Flowers in the Wind” by A. D’Amico hit me just right.
The art was tighter than in the first volume, too. A number of the stories did wonderful things with the art. Marie-Ann Dt’s “Inkblot” and Nicole Figer’s “A Bard’s Tale” really piqued my interest with their art styles and Effie Lee’s “Kantha was just lovely from beginning to end.
Putting together an anthology is always hard. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little on the one side or the other to get the thing to print. Dates 2 doesn’t seem to have had to make any such sacrifices. It’s a really good read from front to back. I can’t think of a story I didn’t enjoy – that’s pretty amazing. ^_^ Like it’s predecessor, Dates 2 was crowdfunded (a campaign to which I contributed right away) and is available in print and digital formats. As a backer, I also received bonus comics and wallpapers all of which will find a place in my image collection.
All in all a very satisfying anthology.
Overall – 9
I’m absolutely thrilled to see more great work from the folks at Margins Publishing!