By Daniel Vlasaty
The Grass Kingdom isn’t a place you want to go, unless you’re given permission to be there. The Grass Kingdom is a small, isolated community. They don’t tolerate trespassers or tourists or outsiders of any kind. The people of the Grass Kingdom live off the grid and they set their own laws. It’s a place where “everyone has a say,” even though that usually turns out to be the opposite in places like this. Places like this are set up to look like they’re equal, but mostly that means there’s some ruthless dictator (or self-appointed “king”) who’s actually calling the shots. Usually, places like this never turn out good.
We’re told that the people of the Grass Kingdom are disillusioned with the outside world. So they came to the Kingdom to get away from it. To be free. To live by their own rules, the way they want. They’re not laid out to be wackos or doomsday preppers or anything like that. Although, the snipers constantly watching the Kingdom’s borders lead me to think otherwise. That and the fact that they’re so adamant that no outsiders come in makes me think there’s more going on then we’re seeing here in this first issue.
I mean, obviously that’s going to turn out to be the case. This is the first issue and it’s all set-up.
Matt Kindt does a great job establishing place. One of the ways he does this is so simple it’s kind of ridiculous. The book opens with the Grass Kingdom’s sheriff, Bruce, catching a trespasser. He cuffs the kid, puts him in the back of his car, and drives him back to the Kingdom’s border. Along the way the kid, Lo, and the sheriff get to talking and the sheriff ends up giving Lo and impromptu tour of Grass Kingdom. He also explains their ideology to the kid along the way. They run into to some townspeople, some civvies and also some people armed with guns and walkie-talkies.
Like I said, this issue is pretty much straight set-up. And Kindt uses his skill to take it slow but it never feels like it gets to a point where it’s dragging. Every little bit of information we get feels important. Nothing feels wasted or wasteful. And everything builds on what came before it, gives the book some layers and depth.
Matt Kindt is a dude who is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. First of all he’s prolific as shit. And with just about everything he writes, you know it’s going to be quality. Two other books he writes (Ether and Dept H) are always at the top of my pile when they come out. And now there’s Grass Kings, too. I have a feeling this little rural mystery is a book that is going to go some places and I definitely want to be there each issue to see where that is.
Tyler Jenkins does the art in Grass Kings. I’m not super familiar with his work. I know he recently did the art for a book called Snow Blind, but I never read that. Although, I will say that I am going to be picking it up now. Because I thought his art was great. It was light and beautifully watercolored. I love art that seems both simple and complex at the same time. Actually, I get the same feeling from this art that I do from Matt Kindt’s own art. It has the same feel to it. But I thought Jenkins’ art perfectly fit the story here. The individual panels were cluttered and tight while also somehow still seemingly open and empty. I think it’s the watercolors that do that, where there are just splashes of color that fade or drip away. Jenkins really captured the desolate feeling of what I imagine living in a place like the Grass Kingdom would be like.
Grass Kings is a book that came out of nowhere for me. Maybe I missed the announcements or maybe I just don’t pay enough attention. But I was totally caught off guard with this book. I am intrigued to see where this story is going to go. I predict that it will be a good one. There’s a good mystery surrounding the story, what we are given in the last page of issue #1. There’s a great creative team behind it. Grass Kings has a lot going for it. And I am ready to take it all in.
Grass Kings #1