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The acclaimed graphic novel anthology continues with Sublife, Volume 2. Creator John Pham enlarges the scope and expands the style of his series with an all-new collection of stories and strips.
“The Kid” is a self-contained short story set in an eerily familiar post-apocalyptic future. Bloodthirsty marauders roam the blasted desert. A nomad and his dog, scavenging the road for gas and supplies, stumble upon a sealed bomb shelter, the contents of which will test whatever humanity he has left, as the marauders pursue him to a violent, frenetic climax.
“Deep Space” continues the atmospheric science fiction serial begun in Volume 1. In this episode, Captain Ho, Commander Wallach, and their newly adopted space-faring companion Deek attempt to harness the power of an alien crystal with the hopes of finding a way back home. But will their best-laid plans survive Captain’s fragile mental state and impulse-prone behavior?
In “221 Sycamore St.,” teenage runaway Phineas accompanies his uncles on a training session with their dog Freya, but what they’re training Freya to do illustrates the disturbing lengths to which his uncles will take their racist ideology. This chapter builds and expands upon the characters and themes established in the first volume, showcasing a vision of Los Angeles that is sometimes dark and fractured, inhabited by a quirky cast of characters.
As if that were not enough, the artist includes various, stand-alone short strips including “Socko Sarkissian,” a single-page gem about baseball’s greatest fictional Armenian slugger, “St. Ambrose,” a fractured memoir about the author’s parochial school alma mater, and “Mort,” a story that answers the burning question, what happens when a jealous blogger encounters his nemesis?
Sublife Volume 2 is filled to the brim with a dizzying variety of stories and styles, all of which surprisingly coalesce into a unified reading experience thanks to their shared themes and motifs, much like Chris Ware’s annual ACME Novelty Library. Dogs, missed connections, ad hoc family units, desert landscapes are all elements that pop up and recur among the different stories. It makes each volume of Sublife eminently readable on its own, and proves why Pham is among the most compelling new voices in comics today.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 5-page PDF excerpt (1.25 MB) from "The Kid."