With so much content over its 132 pages, picking favourites is a genuinely difficult task. So, characteristically, I’ll take the easy way out and start at the anthology’s first entry, Lord Hurk’s Sculptor. Long-time ATF readers will remember that we're huge fans of Hurk’s hyper-cartoony, graffiti-esque illustration, and in this piece, he impresses once again. Letting the art speak for itself - quite literally - sound effects and symbols are used to communicate a story of an artist who witnesses a terrible crime.
Previously covered by us a couple of months back was Jess Smart Smiley’s bewitching tale of animals/ humans/ animal-humans on the run, A Map in the Dirt. For those who still haven’t gotten hold of Smiley’s beautiful abstract allegory, it appears here in its entirety (minus the extras found in the stand-alone copy, of course). Adding weight to the idea of HIVE being a barometer for the world of alternative comics, it’s worth noting that since submitting his animal-themed comic to Grimalkin, Smiley’s all-ages vampire graphic novel Upside Down has been snapped up by Top Shelf and will be winging its way to bookstores near you for Halloween 2011.
*Ultra Bonus Fact: UK Sega fans might recognise Ricardson's work from 1990s video-game comic Sonic the Comic, where he drew the Streets of Rage strip. Nerdgasm!