Review – Griff Gristle: The Endless Voyage (Madius Comics)

Publisher: Madius Comics
Writers: Rob Jones, Mike Sambrook
Artwork: Rory Donald
Release Date: Available on KICKSTARTER until Saturday 1st June 2019

At long last, the return of the saltiest sea dog to ever navigate the mysterious and arcane depths of the oceans.

Following the explosive conclusion of Siren’s Song, we find Griff up to his neck in hot water, literally. Dragged clear of the debris and the smoking ruins of the fish market by Rich and Justine, Griff finds himself and his friends facing escalating attacks using magics far beyond the control of even the Brotherhood. Drowning in alcohol, sorrow and regret, Griff must exorcise the ghosts of his past to defeat the demons haunting his waking world and discover the true power behind the nightmare.

Now before I continue, I’m going to say right from the start, that this is a brilliant effort from the guys. I’ve loved the first two issues of this series and this issue once again delivers a step up in the quality of the story, artwork, design and lettering. It’s also a damned fun romp.

If you’re not already conversant with Griff Gristle, then shame on you… sorry, I mean let me, dear reader, discourse upon the wonders that are the tales of Griff and his stalwart companions.

Very much reminiscent of the worlds of Mike Mignola’s imaginings, Griff is an epic nautical adventure encompassing mythical sea creatures, shadowy cults and Lovecraftian horrors. Our hero Griff, is the archetypal tortured soul, grieving the loss of his wife and fighting the good fight, thoroughly marinated in alcohol and self-loathing. Don’t let Griff’s wallowing and self-pity fool you though, this is a lot of fun and whilst this issue deals with some of the less savoury truths about Griff and his legend, the narrative never takes itself too seriously.

I only stumbled across the MADIUS team’s publications about six months ago, devoured catalogue, and have been consistently impressed with the passion that goes into what they produce. Mike Sambrook and Rob Jones have, I know, worked themselves to the bone to produce this next instalment of the series and their dedication and enthusiasm really shows in the quality of the end result.

Griff is only three issues in and it feels, to me, like he’s been around for a lot longer. I think that this is partly because the Griff that Sambrook and Jones have given us is a fully formed, scarred and damaged soul with a whole world of unexplored back story, and partly because the narrative doesn’t need you to fill in the back story to understand what’s driving him. That being said, it’s great that we’re starting to be shown the road that brought Griff to this point, and I hope that future issues will expand on all of these threads. No pressure guys, but I’m expecting a 1000 page omnibus sometime in the near future…

As I’ve mentioned before, the quality of the entire story is getting better each issue and Rory Donald’s artwork is simply going from strength to strength. There’s a fantastic confidence in each panel that’s great to see. Again, I have to draw the similarity with the aesthetic to that of Mike Mignola’s work, but Donald has certainly stamped his own personality on it. The panel layout and full page/double page spreads are gorgeous and there’s a fight scene that’s like a giant Andy Warhol poster which just rocks.

There are some stretched panels in this issue showing Griff sinking into the depths of the ocean that really feel like he’s sinking to the bottom of the ocean, and that’s quite hard to do with such a stripped back and minimalist style. Whilst there’s a beautiful simplicity in Donald’s style there are some fantastic details in there as well, Griff’s sour mash bottle is a perfect example that you need to look out for. The creature design is superb, as has been the case with all the issues so far. I love me an eldritch creature from the unfathomable depths and Rory Donald doesn’t disappoint.

The colouring work is also great, and really adds layer upon layer of depth to the artwork. There’s also a lot more freedom in the colour palette in this issue, where there has been pretty much one palette used on each of the previous issues, there’s a riot of colour that just makes the artwork explode off the page in places.

Griff Gristle: The Endless Voyage is currently funding on Kickstarter and there’s a whole host of fantastic goodies up for grabs in the various tiers from digital copies of the comics, pin badges and T-Shirts all the way up to original artwork from this issue. If you’ve never picked Griff up before then at some point I may forgive you, but with all three issues available on the Kickstarter, both digitally and in print, now is the perfect time to rectify this and jump on board!

Seriously boys and girls, get reading, back this Kickstarter, visit MADIUS’ website, dig into their other great titles, you will absolutely not regret it!

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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