Self-Published Sunday: Leftovers

Leftovers is an anthology series by writer/artist Jason Pittman. Each issue tackles a different topic in anywhere from one to five stories. What is most impressive about the series, however, is that the reader can see a young artist really come in to his own. THe first issue is clunky and relatively unsuccessful. However, the third issue is fantastic. With growth like that, who knows what the fourth issue will bring!

Leftovers Book One: Jim is a grocery store stock boy who is going nowhere. But when he meets Amanda, it looks like his life may actually be changing. Amanda is off to school in Washington, D.C. and she wants Jim to go with her. Will he make the leap and actually do something with his life? Or will he continue to live the mundane life he has always known?

The story is very 90′s/00′s slacker with plenty of musical references and hot new tattoos. Since there have been so many stories like this, it is all about the characters. The characters have to be believable and relatable. While Jim may be believable, he is not really a character the reader can get behind. He has the life he has because he has made it that way. He expects a good life to fall in to his lap instead of having to work for it. This makes it difficult to feel anything but frustration for/at Jim.

The art in the book is inconsistent. While there are some panels which are quite effective (as well as a two-page dream sequence in the middle of the book rendered in an entirely different style), the majority of the book is pretty bland. Pittman has difficulties drawing the characters the same from panel to panel. This distracts from the storytelling and makes it that much more difficult to empathize with Jim.

Leftovers Book Two: Pittman is joined by Shelley Briggs on writing duties. This book contains five stories ruminating on the various stages of love, each of them with a completely different feel. Some of the stories are pretty straight forward and tug at the emotional heartstrings. Some are downright surreal and leave the reader scratching their head. But, then again, isn’t that just like love?

The art in this volume is an order of magnitude better than in the first book. Pittman has clearly improved as an artist between the issues. He tries a variety of inking techniques, adding to the unique feel of each story. While the first book feels slightly amateur, this bok fits right in with the “indie” feel that I believe Pittman was striving for.

Leftovers Book Three: Easily the best of the bunch, Leftovers Book Three is a horror themed anthology. There are four stories in the book, but the real standout is the first, The Fifteen Ladies of Walter Thurman.

Walter Thurman lost his wife fourteen years ago to cancer. So, each year, on the anniversary of her death, he honors her memory by killing an innocent woman. He believes that he sight of a fresh, pointless death will keep the memory of his wife’s pointless death alive within him for another year.

The story is gruesome, horrific, and easily the best work Pittman has done to date. Pittman manages to make the reader empathize with Thurman. We feel sympathy for a man who has lost the love of his life and will stop at nothing to keep her alive in his heart, even if he does the unthinkable to do so.

Pittman’s art takes another quantum leap forward with this book. His line work, especially in the Walter Thurman book, is quite good. He is able to portray not only emotion but also mood and atmosphere. The story not only is creepy, but it feels creepy…and it keeps getting creepier as the story progresses.

When I read the first book of Leftovers I was not very excited to read through the other two. However the books continued to improve dramatically and now I find myself looking forward to the next volume. You can purchase Leftovers on Indyplanet. Book One can be purchased here, Book Two here, and Book Three here.

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