A review a day: <i>The Field on the Edge of the Woods</i>

Continuing my attempts to review a book a day until I'm out of things to read, we come upon another tiny comic that came to me in the mail. This ought to be fun, right? (I've been trying to publish these at noon, but the function that allows us to auto-publish appears to be smarter than I am. Sigh.)

The Field on the Edge of the Woods (Book One) is by Mike "Frick" Weber, Loran Skinkis, and Gary Morgan (Weber writes, Morgan pencils, and Skinkis inks). You can find all the information about the comic at the web site, including a 28-page free preview. This comic is 48 pages long and costs $3.99. That's good value!

The Field on the Edge of the Woods is the story of a man named Gary who falls asleep one night and wakes up in a strange forest, where he has adventures. Gary is a older man, kind of a schlub, and when he wakes up in the forest, he's confronted by all manner of strange creatures, including a Grim Reaper kind of guy who saves his ass from a bunch of goblins and then ... reads him a screenplay?

Gary, you see, was once a television producer, so the Grim Reaper figures he's a good guy to listen to a pitch. The book then becomes the Grim Reaper telling the story to Gary, and the story is about a warrior carrying a bundle and being chased by goblins who is rescued by ... well, Pontius Pilate. Yes, it's very odd.

Despite the story being a bit weird, Weber does a fairly decent job. Obviously, this is part one of four, so there's a lot that's confusing (Gary seems terribly confused on the last page, meaning he's standing in for the reader), but at least Weber does a good job with the dialogue. His narration is a bit overwrought, and adds too much of a sense of pretentious goofiness to the book, which is probably the point to a degree, as we're not necessarily supposed to take everything too seriously. However, the dialogue does this fine, and it gives us a lot more insight into each character than the narration, so perhaps it's something that will be scaled back as we move along. The book zips along pretty well without the narrative captions, after all. The contrast between Pilate and the White Rider (the dude carrying the bundle) is established through their interaction, for instance, and not through the captions.

There's also some very weird pop culture references (one to Richard Dean Anderson, for instance) sprinkled throughout the book that makes it seem more and more like Gary's imagination, but that's a plot point that will have to wait. For the most part, despite the weirdly disjointed nature of the narrative, Weber does a good job getting us through it.

The art, however, is quite excellent. Morgan has a very nice style that fits the sword-and-sorcery kind of theme Weber is working with, with plenty of nice details and a very clean line. There are some violent scenes in the book, and Morgan handles them well, making clear that things are dying without going too overboard with the gore (scythes and swords make a mess, after all). The characters each have a distinctive look, even the hordes of goblins, and the fight scenes are kinetic and well choreographed.

There's a couple of odd panels where the art blocks out some word balloons, but in only one does it completely obscure the meaning of what's being said, so I'm not sure what the deal is. Whoever lettered the book could have done a slightly better job making sure we could see everything (even though the lettering, for the most part, is nifty). Morgan reminds me a bit of Tim Vigil, which, for me, is a very high compliment (although this book is nowhere near as gory as most of Vigil's work is). I enjoyed the story, but I really liked looking at each panel closely and seeing what Morgan was doing with the art.

I'd like to thank Weber for sending this to me, because it's a neat little comic. He's done a lot of work on the book (he contacted me about it a while ago, when it was more nebulous), and it's a nice book to check out for the same price as a standard cookie-cutter book you might find at the comic book store. Check out the web site, check out the free preview, and decide for yourself! I hope Weber is able to get the remaining volumes out soon!

Tomorrow at noon(ish): Another review, another indy comic! Beware ... the plague!

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