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Karlsson, Kolbeinn – The Troll King


The Troll King

The linked website is in Swedish, so you may want to use the Google translator feature, some other translator or perhaps just learn Swedish.  This book is ridiculously gorgeous while being occasionally grotesque.  No, I have no idea how he pulls it off either.  If ever a comic screamed out for the full color treatment it’s this one, and Top Shelf was kind enough to make that happen.  This is a collection of stories, occasionally barely hanging together by a thread only to be yanked back into a coherent narrative, dealing with various mystical beings of the forest.  Things start off with the two Kings of the Forest working out, then disguising themselves to be able to head to town and stock up on carbs.  They don’t disguise themselves to protect us, they do it because humans aren’t worthy of their presence.  The two Kings continue on in their loving relationship until another character performs a ceremony that results in the birth of their two children.  How do two guys give birth?  About how you would expect, but if you honestly have no idea I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.  From here we transition to the story of a dwarf who has fallen into a river and ended up as the happy steed for another group of beings, then onto a sentient carrot being that got wet, the rejuvenation of a killed troll, the wild west, and finally the growing pains of those two children. Yes, I am being vague, and yes, I am doing it on purpose.  It’s hyperbolic to say that every page was a revelation, so I’ll tone it down a bit and say that every other page was a revelation.  While those two hairy guys in the beginning may be Troll Kings, the hierarchy of the forest is never explained and they seem to rule by everyone knowing exactly what they want in life and thus avoiding any problems.  The dwarf getting turned into a steed had all the potential to be a creepy mess, especially with the method of his transformation, but the guy was so happy with the result that the story managed to succeed on every level.  If the fact that you still read comics has anything to do with a love of great visuals, this book deserves a place on your shelf.  If you stick around for the stories, yes, it also passes that test with flying colors.  If you still read comics to see what happens with your favorite characters from month to month, OK, you’re allowed to skip this, but you should really work on broadening those horizons.  This guy is relatively new in the comics world, so put me down for somebody who cant’ wait to see what he comes up with next.  $14.95

Baltic Comics Magazine – Baltic Comics Magazine #5: After Snowfall


Baltic Comics Magazine #5 – After Snowfall

Enough of all those stupid Various pages on this site.  From now on everybody gets their own page!  This is a collection of stories from 18 different artists (about half from Latvia, the rest from Germany, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, and Lithuania), all dealing with stories set, obviously, after snowfall.  These stories go all over the place, as stories from every good anthology should do, with all sorts of artistic styles.  There’s Kolbeinn Karlsson telling the story of Dracula’s last days on earth (and how he bit a woman just so he wouldn’t be alone when he died), Ruta Briede with a silent piece about a lonely man in a snowglobe, Ines Christine Geisser showing the tragic consequences of stealing giant blocks of ice from a frozen lake, Hironori Kikuchi (the sampled piece) with a deceptively adorable story about stuffed animals and a human noticing that pieces of their story haven’t had the snow filled in, Yoshi cluing us all in as to how to know which way to dig if you’re trapped in an avalanche, Johan Klungel shows a suicide that didn’t work exactly as intended, Ernests Klavins with a brilliant Lord of the Rings parody where the snow is very useful in tracking the invisible Gollum, and Aisha Franz has a great piece about how an underground child (Americans, think Cabbage Patch Kids) comes up a little too early.  That’s roughly half of the people involved, anyway, and just about everything in here has something to recommend it.  About 2/3 of this is in color, and I mean vibrant, strong colors.  All that and this is still only a measly $6 (U.S., cheaper with places with a functioning economy), while still being the size of a mini comic (although fatter).  If you’re sick of the same old stuff, this is a perfect place to start expanding your horizons. $6