By Sam King
Farlaine the Goblin Volume 1 collects Books 1-3 of a comic called Farlaine the Goblin. It is a story of a goblin on a quest to find a forest of his own to take care of and to plant the tree he carries on his back. The art is in black and white, emitting the feel of a comic strip, but each book tells a full and very whimsical story.
Farlaine the Goblin is a fantasy comic series about the title character and his search for a forest. His ultimate goal is to plant the tree he is carrying in a suitable place where it can grow undisturbed. To do this, he is searching each land in the world of Wug for a forest he can be the caretaker of. It proves to be more of a challenge than anyone may think, as he needs optimal soil conditions, inhabitants who won’t be likely to destroy trees, and somewhere that a forest can actually exist, to begin with. This series doesn’t have an explicitly known or traditionally listed artist/writer. Wikipedia says the creator is anonymous, no name is found on the volume itself, and the Amazon listing provides Pug Grumble as the artist and writer.
Each book in the Farlaine series tells the story of Farlaine the Goblin in a new land. In Book 1, Farlaine heads towards Tinkland where he runs into creatures called Tinks. He has just come from the Tinderlands, which are mentioned briefly, but at the end of the volume, a mini-adventure of his time in the Tinderlands is included. I liked this inclusion since I actually found myself wondering more about what had happened in the Tinderlands than the Tinklands. The Tinklands section seems almost unfinished, so maybe this portion will be revisited in the future.
In Book 2, Farlaine explores the Saltlands and interacts with Salt People. Through this adventure, he gains a new companion. Then in Book 3, Farlaine and his companion, who is nameless at the moment, enter the Racelands. The volume then provides some early sketches and shows the progression of Farlaine from concept to comic. Additional art done by guest artists is also featured, along with the name and website of each artist.
Book 1 is very much just setup and to begin with; it is mildly confusing while the reader orients to what is happening. On the first page, Farlaine is talking, but it is uncertain who he is talking to until the second page. At first, I wondered if he was talking to the audience, but that didn’t seem to make sense, and I kept perusing the panels a few times over to see if any creatures were present that I’d looked over. It turns out; he is talking to the tree he carries on his back, which he calls Ehrenwort. After further reading, it made more sense that this would be the case since Farlaine has a green thumb. He has the ability to communicate with plants and grow them rapidly. He is very familiar with different seeds and plant types, which helps him during his journey. The first book is pretty rough in terms of understanding the overall story, but by the second one things, really smooth over and the story becomes much more enjoyable. A broader story is finally coming out, and the adventure gets more entertaining as the story goes on.
The artwork is pretty straightforward, but I really liked how detailed the backgrounds and new environments are. I’ve seen some color comics that are very minimal when it comes to backgrounds, or they choose to go with solid color emotive backgrounds instead of detailed backdrops. Personally, I prefer at least SOME background, or for the majority of panels to include a background within a story. I enjoy having full immersion in a world and Farlaine the Goblin delivers this. It has an expressive cartoony style and each land so far has been very distinct. Panels that don’t have backgrounds are very detailed focuses on character and action, in a good way that doesn’t feel like laziness. I really enjoyed the art. Farlaine himself is a very goofy goblin in terms of look, with a big nose and big ears, but it makes him really adorable and shows his general friendliness. He is not the most brave or fearsome goblin, but he has a good heart and wants to be more courageous as his adventures continue. He strives to reach his goal, even if it means occasionally rushing into things headfirst and winging it as he goes along.
Overall, Farlaine the Goblin Volume 1 is a fun time. The art work is of very good quality and includes a lot of detail and charm. The story starts off kind of rocky but gets much better as it goes on. I’m waiting to see if the story moves towards a direction that will make the beginning more relevant, so we will see. If not, then I think the story may just have started in the wrong place, while generally heading in the right direction. This story was submitted to several publishers and not picked up, but I do think that it deserves some more attention. This is a comic that can be enjoyed by all ages, but I would definitely recommend it especially for youthful fantasy lovers who enjoy a lighter side of fantasy or who like fairytales in particular. This one is not at all gritty or as thrilling as stories with dragons or knights. This almost feels like the kind of story that would be done in a Don Bluth movie, but with a different artistic style. It has familiar tones with A Troll in Central Park in terms of the plant affinity of a fantasy woodland-type creature, except with no humans and existing in a broader, more fantastic world.
Farlaine the Goblin vol. 1