WOODLANDS is Pretty Faun-tastic

woodlands fantasy faun comic book cover

Woodlands by Sam Bowen and Ari Pluchinsky is a faun fantasy comic I first discovered at Small Press Expo this year. Sam and Ari sat across the aisle from me, so I traded some books for Woodlands and a copy of their other book, Goldfinch (which I’ll review later).

THE PLOT

Edwyn the faun has been waiting for the return of his grandfather, someone he hasn’t heard from for a while. So, to keep himself busy, he’s been trying to make a sleeping potion for his fellow faun friend Remmy.

This first issue follows Edwyn and Remmy searching for ingredients for a sleeping potion, while also showing the world they live in. Also, giant freaking’ radishes.

SO WHAT’S SO FAUN-TASTIC ABOUT IT?

For a first issue, this sets up the world and the characters in a fun, charming way. The humor is character-based – nothing is forced.

No, not even the ridiculously fat deer.

…That deer, the conflict around it, and what happens after the encounter are some of my favorite moments in this first issue.

BUT IT ISN’T ALL RAINBOWS AND ROSES…

As much as I enjoyed this book, there was one thing that confused me – and that was the flashback moment.

During the deer chase, Edwyn falls into a cave on accident. While inside the cave, there’s a flashback moment: Edwyn sees when he was little and his grandfather found him and carried him back home.

The confusing thing to me is that Edwyn and this flashback moment exist at the same time in the cave. There’s no real filter to separate the two from each other, except that the flashback figures are vaguely blue.

Does this mean the two moments existed at the same time? What caused the flashback in the first place? How will this flashback tie in to the rest of the story later?

There’s no answer for this in the first issue, so I’m hoping this gets addressed later.

IS THIS WORTH SEEKING OUT?

Ultimately, yes, I still recommend this comic. I’m hoping that with time, some elements become more clear in the narrative – especially since this book has such a strong start.

If you love fantasy, and want to see more fauns, check this out. It’s worth the find.

You can read it for free at woodlandscomic.com. But I highly recommend getting the book if you see the creators at any conventions. The books are gorgeous and well-printed.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

REVIEW DAY TUESDAY: Otto the Odd and the Dragon King

I bought this book directly from the artist at Swarm Con many years ago, read it, loved it, and shelved it. So I thought I would bring it off the shelf for this review.

Otto the Odd and the Dragon King is a short comic written by George Herman and illustrated by Kit Seaton. Kit was an instructor at the Savannah College of Art and Design at the time (I don’t know if she still is or not), and I got this book and one of her prints. She’s one cool lady, I gotta say.

The story is about a prince. A very, very messy prince. One of the reasons he’s so odd is because he only bathes once a week at most. When he’s forced to bathe, he runs out of the palace and retreats to a cave far outside of town, where the dragon king, Sparky, lives.

The problem? A knight comes into town one day and makes the king sign a lengthy contract, agreeing that the knight shall kill any dragon in the kingdom. Which is a problem, because Otto doesn’t want his best friend dead.

So Sparky and Otto have to come up with a plan and get the town council on their side in order to keep Sparky safe.

I think it’s clear by now that, as far as reviewing comics goes, I’m a sucker for all-ages fantasy stories. They are my jam and I am the peanut butter. So, of course, I really dig this book. I could nitpick about one or two grammatical errors I spotted, but you’re just going to get those with small-press, self-published books.

What makes this book worth seeking out is the sense of humor of the whole thing: there’s an ongoing joke about how Otto smells like sauerkraut, followed up with, “What? I like the smell of sauerkraut.” There’s character-based humor, especially with the town council. The entirety of the conflict between the knight and literally everyone else is overly silly in a British humor sort of way, especially with the use of contracts. This book will make you giggle, I’m sure of it.

And the art? Well, the format does shift a bit towards the end. It starts with heavy, paint-like colors and comic book panels. Then it ends with border-less panels and stronger lines. I felt the transition wasn’t nearly as jarring as some reviewers make it out to be, considering that the entire story reads like a fairy tale. The narrative is consistent, and that helps.

In short, if you’re up for a silly, all-ages British comedy, I recommend Otto the Odd and the Dragon King. Believe it or not, the entire thing can be read over at Kit Seaton’s portfolio page. (I assume the story is available this way because the book may be out of print.)

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.