We’ve all encountered stories of children or young adults who daydream of far off worlds and lands of fantasy and adventure. Whether it’s Narnia or Fantasia, the blending of modern (ok some are pretty dated now) sensibilities with high fantasy has been an enduring trope. What happens though when you spin that on its head? What happens when you take a fantastical world and inject dreams of tailored suits, transistors, and fancy timepieces? You get yourself a charming coming-of-age story which, whilst feeling reassuringly familiar, manages to avoid the trap of being a hum drum tale wrapped in a glossy idea.
Tell me there’s a new book with art from Matt Smith and chances are I’ll be interested, regardless of the premise. Something about their work really chimes with me. Obviously art, and comics in general, are always going to have a fair degree of subjectivity attached but I’d be struggling to name a better pick for this story. There’s so many little details and nods like the black bird sitting on the signpost which don’t so much ‘world build’ as invite you to fill in the gaps from your own imagination. There’re also few others I can name who can elicit so much expression from such simple lines. All of this is further sweetened by the colours of O’Halloran and Campbell’s letters firmly balancing strong colours and dark corners without being overwhelming. A special shout out also goes to the last page and the central panel; I could easily see this as the cover of an old school role-playing game.
Parking the visuals for a minute, you can’t have a good comic without a good story. Folklords also has this base covered rather well. Whilst a slow pace, this isn’t a slog. Instead, Kindt gives us the time to get to know these characters and their motivations, ensuring that this isn’t merely a flash in the pan quirky fantasy. Ansel, our main character, is introduced the day before announcing his quest. Upon reaching age, the young adults must declare a quest before the assembled crowds, all overseen by the enigmatic and draconian Librarians. All pretty standard fantasy fare right? Well what happens when instead of britches or adventuring clobber and hood, Ansel has fashioned himself a questing suit and tie and wishes to seek answers to his visions of cyclopean cities with powered carts and flying machines? Well it wouldn’t be a good quest if it were easy!
Folklords look set to be a wonderful work, teasing out ideas of conformity and rebellion. I’m maybe a touch older than the intended audience but I whole-heartedly enjoyed the escapism and I’m eager to read more. Removing the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia and teenage whimsy, there’s hints of the darker truths of ventures into adulthood and the wider world.
[PREVIEW – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster