On the hard-charging TCJ.com, cartoonist/commentator Michel Fiffe recently wrote a piece looking at the unique comics format of one-creator anthologies. He delves into the origin of the format in the underground comix movement of the 1960s all the way to modern success stories like Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library. What he finds is just how rare the laser-like focus needed to create these works are, and how even successful ones have trouble keeping up with the success of their creators.
“It’s a publishing sensibility that may have had its moment in the sun decades ago, but it’s never really been a dominant point of interest for cartoonists,” Fiffe explains in his introduction. “That’s not surprising; carrying the weight of multiple narratives issue after issue is not particularly alluring to those who just want to draw cool stuff for a page rate, or for those who just want to tell their stories one book at a time.”
To clarify, one-creator anthologies are series in which one creator writes and draws all the stories. It’s related but distinct from one-creator series that carry one over-arching narrative like Jeff Smith’s Bone or Brandon Graham’s King City in that it’s a collection of short stories with little or no connective tissue besides the common hand that creates it.