A friend and supporter of Cloudscape Comics society, Stefan Nieuwenhuis, has written a lovely and thoughtful review of one of our most recent anthology projects, Welcome to Mina’s, for the dutch comic’s website De 9e Kunst.
Here’s a translated version of the review for English readers:
Welcome to Mina’s: an anthology of human stories in a relevant, integer setting.
For the adventurous comic reader, the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is a source of fun. Comics, collections of web comics, graphic novels and anthologies: everything is being presented in an unending stream, with a lot of love and dedication. For those willing to take the shipping costs on, there are wonderful gems to be discovered. An assortment that is also more diverse and interesting than one would expect.
A pleasant perk is that all comics offered through Kickstarter are always available in digital format as well – for those who want to avoid exorbitant shipping costs and taxes. You can often get it for only a few dollars.
In particular, bundles of work by various young comic book artists are often excellent. In recent months alone, several wonderful projects have been launched with comics about autism, depression, coming out, racism and transgender identities: current topics that are portrayed by young creators who are close to these subjects. Each and every one is very powerful, and more than worthy of a large audience.
Take Welcome to Mina’s, a diner themed anthology set in Vancouver: a collection of short comics about ‘life, love and food’, set in a fictional restaurant in Canada, published by Cloudscape Comics of Vancouver. By having all the stories take place in Mina’s, with different characters, the events are more or less intertwined. This creates a series of stories that begin in the early years of the restaurant, in 1919, and lead up to present day.
The year 1919 was not chosen randomly. In Emily Lampson’s contribution, we learn that a law was passed that year which made it impossible for white Canadians to work in companies run by Asians. So is the case in the family business Mina’s, a popular diner. While Mina’s is fictional, many of the described events are based on reality. Some comic book creators added their own experiences to the book, others were inspired by moments in Vancouver’s history. This book is about ethnic diversity and represents people of all walks of life, age groups, members of the LGBTQI+ community and people with disabilities.
The anthology is pleasant to read, the sequence and structure ensure that the stories follow each other logically, which is essential for a thematic approach. The chosen theme is a perfect fit: never feeling forced or overly cerebral. Welcome to Mina’s features friendly stories fit to a human scale. That is the greatest asset of this anthology, which points out the small things and reduces the great social tendencies of our time to human proportions.
Take for example the touching story Helping hands by screenwriter Oliver McTavish-Wisden and artist Matthew Nielsen: a young woman falls into conversation with an old lady in a wheelchair. Together they go to Mina’s for a cup of coffee and it turns out that the old woman already knows her, as a volunteer of the food supply service she is dependent on. The unfolding conversation between the two of them is simply heartrending. Many similar short slices of life feature in this bundle.
Cloudscape is not just a publisher, but in fact a comics collective based in Vancouver. With over 100 active members, Cloudscape covers much of the British Columbia comic book community. The majority of the books they publish is financed through crowdfunding: the money flows back into the coffers to enable more publications and to support young comic creators. Their bibliography shows that Cloudscape invests in meaningful books that tell important stories about people, society and the like. On top of that, most titles are also honest, informative and powerful. That is the advantage of a collective: by collaborating, the results are better. It is something for young comic creators in the Netherlands and Flanders to consider: find each other, collaborate and learn from each other.
If you’d like to check out the dutch version or any of the other reviews on the site, you can find them here: https://9ekunst.nl/
For more information on Stefan, you can find his website here:
The Welcome to Mina’s physical book and ebook is available for purchase from our shop here: https://www.cloudscapecomics.com/product/welcome-to-minas/