The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel – Volume 4
Edited by Owen Watts and Geoffrey Crescent
Cover Art by Alex Ronald
Released at the Melksham Comics Festiaval earlier this year the latest The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel is an impressive fourth volume of self-contained short stories that all have a Time Travel Twist to them. The anthology offers a mixture of black and white and colour strips and the team behind the project, who include downthetubes contributor Owen Watts, have added to their roster of creators and used some old friends in this fourth installment.
Here’s my run through the different stories – and you’ll find my overall opinion of this edition at the end of the review.
Written by Andi Lewington with art by Seb Antoniou
This is a story about the assassination of US president John F. Kenndy, a regular time travel trope – but this one is told in the style of a narrated newsreel. This gives a bleak realism to the panels that have an historic static photographic style. It’s an interesting opener to the book.
Written by David Black with Art by Paul Ridgon
A time travelling assassin is part of a big business/government conspiracy. The first page is done with impressive style artistically using the view of the sniper as a point of view. Sadly, there is a panel at the bottom of the page that has not been lettered. It looks good but ultimately didn’t really convey a twist to me as the reader. Is it that he shot himself?
Written by David Sands with art by Jake Rowlinson
A medieval commoner travels magically in time to get a birthday present for the King’s daughter. Where he ends up is a well known conspiracy theory of a venue.
This was a great little story with a more cartoony style than the previous ones. It’s also pretty funny and I’d love to see more of these guys work in the future. It’s one of those stories that you see in an anthology that’s worthy of a longer stand alone series.
The Ghost of Montague Hall
Written by Chris Denton with art by Jordan Colver
The experiments of a couple of time travel scientists in 1914 are mistaken for mystical going ons by people in 2014 with violent repurcussions.
This was one of my favourite stories in the book. It didn’t remind me of anything I have read previously and has a real eye for style. It uses differently coloured linework to show the change in time zones and has a genuinely well carried out twist ending.
Written by Matthew Allen with art by Dave Thomson
You knew there would be a travel back to the time of dinosaurs story from the off, huh? This story retreads that familiar trope. A group travel back in time, worry about what they do changing the future and then one finds his way back to his present. It’s fairly predictable stuff but with some great looking colour artwork.
Mackeralman Meets The Lady Of The Lake
Written by Michael Norwitz with art by Stephen Prestwood. Letters by BOLT-01
This is a pastiche of old British comics with a dash of Flash Gordon and Aquaman thrown into the mix. It’s certainly got that small press sense of humour to its panels but its link to time travel is, I’m going to say, ‘different’ from the other stories in this volume. Mackeralman fights some zombie knights from the time of King Arthur – but gets back in time to hand in his home work.
I found it a little crammed into each page and think the story could have done with a higher page count and space to tell its story. The art was a little bit flat for my tastes, but this could have been due to the style choice.
Written by Oscar Maltby with art by Neil Williams and letters by Andrew Scaife
Why would you travel back in time? Fiction and the movies would have us believe that it’s for love or wealth or power. Oh, no. Not in this story.
This is a wonderfully anarchic story about 1990s Britain, partying, meeting that someone special and perhaps some fast food thrown in for drunken good measure.
One of the most original and funny stories in this anthology.
The Sleep House
Written by Shaun Avery with art by Chris Askham. Letters by BOLT-01
What if you had to pay for sleep? Or what if the government told you that you now have to pay for sleep? It’s an interesting premise that is told in hauntingly minimal black and white. It reads like a comics version of an old Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode and whispers in your ear with creepy storytelling. You can imagine the claustrophic world of this story.
Time for Justice
Written by Arran Frood with art by Bruno Stahl and letters by BOLT-01
A macabre future game show experiments with doomed contestants in flawed time travel experiments.
This strip finally added the ‘psychedelic’ to the title of the anthology. It has a beautifully grotesque quality that could really have done with a bigger colour palette. The central character with his mask and flourish adds, finally, a bit of edge to this book.
The Universal Market
Written by Blas Bigatti with art by David Broughton
This is fun and colourful. A shopping trip is given an exotic twist by adding the ability to time travel to buy ingredients. It’s far from the most original story in the book – the kind of tale rejected by Tharg as a Future Shock idea for 2000AD – but it does have a couple of interesting moments and the dinosaurs (yup, them again) look great.
Written by Stu Perrins with art by Aidan Barnard and letters by Andrew Scaife
This is a short six panel story about family dynamics, soft drugs and petty theft. It’s not really got anything new to say but manages to tell a story in six panels and it looks interesting.
What are the Odds?
Written by Paul Bradford with art by Joe Palmer and letters by BOLT-01
Another familiar trope makes its appearance. A stranger from the future arrives to warn of an impending alien invasion. Is he speaking the truth and why it all goes wrong is explained in the last panel.
This is one of the longer stories in the book and is told well with good black and white artwork. It features a twist that works but feels like a over used story technique.
Written by Geoffrey Crescent and art by Gavin Mitchell
This is a short one page story that appears on the back page of the comic. It’s colourful and playful. It throws the concepts of time travel back in our faces with a comedic twist.
This is a capable collection of stories. An anthology is a difficult comic to build and carry off and there are bound to be better stories. I really enjoyed “The Sleep House”, “Meaty Love” and “The Ghost of Montague Hall”, but for me, I found that the other stories lacked suffiucient edge and seemed to be pulling from well trodden story types and tropes for them to be interesting to me.
Whilst the cover is a great piece of standalone art with a cunning play on words, I didn’t find it eye catching enough, or in fact connected to the interior stories.
Perhaps a more cohesive theme with more of an original edge would have pulled this up on a personal level for me?
However, you have to applaud Owen and Geoffrey for pulling it all together and I shall be keeping an eye out for future volumes.
Many thanks for reading.
• You can find The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel on facebook at www.facebook.com/thepsychedelicjournal and on Blogger at www.thepsychedelicjournal.blogspot.co.uk They are also on Twitter @Psych_Journal
• You can buy a digital copy of The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel at www.comicsy.co.uk/crazyfoxmachine for the great price of £6.00
• Volume 3 is also still available in print with volumes 1 and 2 only available at the moment digitally