For a number of years, the Pacific Northwest's contribution to Free Comic Book Day was an anthology comic edited by a collaboration of different small publishers. Dylan Williams of Sparkplug, Tim Goodyear of Teenage Dinosaur and Greg Means of Tugboat Press would combine their resources and overlapping but different aesthetics to create some truly weird and memorable comics like Nerd Burglar, Bird Hurdler, Dan Quayl, and Brad Trip. After Dylan Williams' passing in 2011 and Means' decision to stop publishing his memorable minicomics anthology Papercutter, Means instead decided to publish something that was a hybrid of the old anthology and Papercutter, and he called it Runner Runner.
It's exactly what a typical Means anthology looks like: accessible narratives, art that runs from naturalistic to cartoony that's rendered in an appealing and approachable manner, and story topics that run from autobio to quirky genre fiction. It's an entirely agreeable if not especially challenging read, acting as a sort of Minicomics 101 for new readers. Tthe cover and the first story is devoted to a new short story related to the book he did with MK Reed and Joe Flood for First Second (The Cute Girl Network), which fits perfectly into that "appealing but not challenging ethos". It also helps that the story of Jack trying to escape from his locked bathroom so as not to be late to a date with Jane is frequently hilarious, like when he absurdly sends a moth to deliver a message to Jane, only to see it get eaten by a hawk. Like in his days compiling Papercutter, Means alternates between one-page strips and slightly longer narratives. The best of the former include Claire Sanders' turning a diagnosis of cancer into an unrelated punchline, Alexis Frederick-Frost's gag about quarreling flying fish, Sam Sharpe's gag about perspective leading to deadly consequences, Sam Alden's cleverly constructed strip about a future world lived entirely underground in caves, Andrice Arp's full-colore strip about losing her head and Julia Gfroerer's light-hearted "The 39 Ryan Goslings", which is exactly what it sounds like. The rest of the anthology is built around an extended Al Burian/Nate Powell piece about the relationship between two aging friends and a long Carrie McNinch piece about a day in her life. Means is a long-time zinesters, and this issue of Runner Runner is in part a way to include long-time zinesters like Burian and McNinch. Like Papercutter, the success of this mini is due to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, especially sense Means has an uncanny sense of just how to sequence the stories to create a fluid reading experience.
On Your Marks is a disjointed, messy and anarchic compendium of mostly short comics, seemingly thrown together at random by editor Max Clotfelter. Whereas one always gets the sense from a Means-edited anthology that he wants the reader to enjoy every story, this anthology is very much take-it-or-leave it, in your face storytelling. That anarchic, underground feeling is certainly its greatest strength as an anthology, as the whole thing is awash in a crude energy that makes one wonder what's next.