What is 24 Panels
24 Panels is an anthology from Image Comics. It features a combination of indie talent and titans of the medium including the likes of Alan Moore, Dan Watters, Ram V, and Kieron Gillen coming together to help fund PTSD treatments for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Each short story in the anthology is no more than 24 panels long. Exclude the introduction, written by Kieron Gillen, and there are a total of 24 stories. That number is significant, as it’s the number of floors there were in the Grenfell Tower block. It’s a great little device, as it keeps the story flowing, but at the same time keeps it tight. There’s no room to waffle when you are dealing with a maximum of 8 pages in which to say what you have to say.
Each story in the anthology has a message, almost invariably to do with community and seeing past divisions. I for one think that’s an incredibly important message I am just going to include my personal highlights in this review. I hope that they inspire you to pick up a copy of 24 Panels and find your own favourites!
Heath Magic from Leigh Alexander, with art and letters by Tom Humberstone, has a strange beauty to it, invoked by the title. The twilight colour palette mixes with a somewhat mystical thread that runs through the story giving the whole thing a mysterious, dream like quality that leaves the reader with more questions than answers. And a desire to go for a walk. To explore those places you pass every day that seem to call to you. Although that could just be me.
Quite possibly my absolute favourite of the entire anthology. Written and lettered by Alex de Campi, with art by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt and colours by Triona Tree Farrell, They Say is the expression “Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover” in comic book form. Narrated by Sana, a little girl who lives in a block of flats occupied by an assortment of colourful characters, all of whom have a lot more going on than meets the eye. It echoes the message of the previous story (Fruit Punch) too, about looking past stereotypes to find the true nature of something. Loved the use of structure of the flats in the layout of the panels.
The Gleaming Green
This one was a real surprise. I looked across the page after finishing They Say with a warm fuzzy glow and thought “hang on a tick, that looks familiar.”
A cathedral towering over a cricket pitch. That could only be once place.
I looked at the positioning of the stands and my suspicion was confirmed. Worcester County Cricket Club’s New Road ground, which lies less than ten miles from where I am sitting at the moment. Written by Paul Cornell, with art and letters by Rachael Smith, The Gleaming Green is an interesting exploration of mental health, and how it’s dealt with in professional sport and how being a fan of that sport can help.
Written by frequent reviewee here at FANdemonium Network Mike Garley, The Fort is an incredibly sweet story about a group of very different individuals coming together and using their different skills to help a community. It’s nothing at all like I would have expected from Mike, given his usual fare. Alex Moore‘s art has an almost Disney-esque vibe. That hedgehog literally made me squeal with delight. Not a reaction I would have expected at all from something written by the guy behind Samurai Slasher!
This sci-fi tale written by Sara Kenney with art from another FN fave, Caspar Wijngaard, is one of the more unique contributions in the anthology. Telling the tale of a young girl fighting a fearsome beast, but with a surprising emotional twist. It’s hard to say too much about this one without totally spoiling it. Suffice to say this one probably left the most lasting impression on me. You’re just going to have to read it to see why!
My final choice from the anthology is The Favelas. This is another tale of determination in the face of adversity. It’s told from the perspective of Maria, a young ballerina living in one of the 700 favelas of Rio De Janeiro. I just absolutely loved the way that Debora Santos captured Maria’s journey through the favela, and her tenacity. Not to mention the sense of community that is so apparent as she manoeuvres her way towards her ballet class.
The full list of contributors:
Al Ewing, Alan Moore, Alex de Campi, Alex Moore, Angela Wraight, Antony Johnston, Bev Johnson, Cardinal Rae, Caspar Wijngaard, Christof Bogacs, Dan Watters, Daniel Santos, Debora Santos, Deshan Tennekoon, Dilraj Mann, Doug Braithwaite, Drew Wills, Emmet O’Cuana, Erika Price, Gen Ainslow, Gavin Mitchell, Gwen Cortsen, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Jefferson, Sadzinski, Joanne Starer, Kieron Gillen, Laurie Penny, Leigh Alexander, Liam Donnelly, Linki Brand, Lizz Lunney, Lynne Yoshii, Melinda Gebbie, Mike Garley, Mike Stock, Pablo Clark, Paul Cornell, Paul Swain, Pippa Mather, Rachael Smith, Ram V, Reda Kahloula, Robin Hoelzemann, Robin Jones, Ro Stein, Sara Kenney, Sarah Gordon, Sean Azzopardi, Ted Brandt, Toben Racicot, Tom Humberstone, Trevor Boyd, Triona Tree Farrell, Tula Lotay.
24 Panels is out now, available from comic book shops, bookstores and a variety of online retailers. Please pick up a copy and enjoy the incredible contributions while helping benefit those affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire. We’d love to know which stories you enjoy, let us know in the comments or via our social media!