“Out of picture” is a film-making term used to refer to anything cut from a movie, and some of the most intriguing stories featured in the Out of Picture volumes feel like they might have come from larger, more fully-realized works. (I’d love to see more of the world featured in Greg Couch’s nursery rhyme/noir hybrid Four & Twenty Blackbirds.) Other contributors created the literary equivalent of 30-second short cartoons, including Jason Sadler’s existentialism-on-speed quickie Sub Plotter and Lizette Vega’s lively Crawdaddyo, both from volume two. The least successful stories tended to be the wordiest and most thematically ambitious, like Nash Dunningham’s Night School (volume one) or David Gordon’s The Rupture (volume two). Both of these stories looked great, but neither was strong enough to carry off its high-minded subject matter. The rest of the contributions were simply lovely, strange little vignettes, about as coherent as your average dream.
Both volumes of Out of Picture are visually dazzling, and—at about twenty-five dollars per volume—a remarkable value. Sticklers for precisely-structured storytelling might want to look elsewhere, but these gorgeously illustrated anthologies are sure to be appreciated by any fan of modern animation.