Forge is a short, one hundred-plus-page journal, small in size but not in impact. It chose as its cover theme “little people opening things.” The picture on the pale, yellow, glossy cover depicts black stick-like figures pushing open two huge doors that dwarf the little anonymous people, making a 1984-esque look. Forge is actually quite whimsical in places, very modern in its approach and material, and frequently rather dark.
It features a graphic story about a young woman who is kidnapped to a castle and pressed into service; she resolves to make the best of it, oddly enough. This is episode two of “Erin’s Castle” by Elisabeth Melander, but it stands by itself, and might look bizarre to those not acquainted with this genre. It is quite mild, intriguing, and pleasantly twisted; the illustration is simple and clear, and it is a good introduction to graphic stories.
Extending the “bizarre” theme are three poems by Sara L. Schroeder: “Eggs,” “At Work,” and “Bubonic Plague” which are suitably unsettling. They cross an imaginary boundary into a child-like playfulness with adult concepts, and since this is fun, even with gritty material, it works. Another imaginative, extremely witty story is “My Deal with Death,” by Witt Widhalm, and it is about exactly what the title suggests. It is written in such a convincing, upbeat and twisted fashion it makes wonderful sense and nonsense of a serious subject.
This publication commits such impossible feats over and over. Some of the short stories stay within the bounds of reality and are moving; all are extremely well written. The publication might be short, but it isn’t short on class.