Ugli Studios Presents is a fantasy and science fiction anthology worth reading if you’re looking for something a little off the twice-beaten path. Both stories enclosed, Through the Eyes of Grizelda and The Great Vermin come from essentially the same creative teams including Jason Lenox, David Paul, David Kaulakis, Joseph Freistuhler, and Damon Haigh. Both stories are written in the Twilight Zone vein with similar tones and that twist ending that while there is always a sense that it is coming, you never quite know what it’s going to be.
Through the Eyes of Grizelda, the first story in Ugli Studios Presents #1 is an extremely dark and violent fantasy tale about a god-like cat watching a vicious battle that she will ultimately have a say in. Being an pet owner/spoiler, the metaphor that I take away from this story is that while we think we are the owners/masters, the pets are just as much in control as we are. I could be wrong but I did that interpretation so I’m going with it. Either way, it’s a fun little read. The art of Through the Eyes of Grizelda, while a little stylistically stiff, is fun with the violence and has a strong panel and page design sense that makes the story flow quite well.
The same smart visual storytelling with the same creative team continues in The Great Vermin, a science fiction short story about hazmat-suited exterminators looking to kill the scourge of the universe. It’s a fun tale that plays on the expectations of readers and makes a social statement all at once. While it doesn’t have the most unique twist ending for an anthological read, it has the same techniques that I liked so much from Grizelda as well and I will look for more from this team of creators.