Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Chronicles of Genghis Grimtoad

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of The Chronicles of Genghis Grimtoad (Marvel, 1990).

Well, this was an interesting little surprise. I have a few issues of Marvel UK's early '90s anthology Strip, and so had seen a handful of episodes of Genghis Grimtoad, a two-page sword-n-sorcery parody by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ian Gibson, three of my favorite comic creators. However, my small collection left me with enough gaps in the story that I really couldn't follow it. On the other hand, Gibson's art is so darn great that I had actually pencilled the series in for a possible feature on Reprint This! one of these days. So yes, I was very surprised to find that the full series - a mere 48 pages - had already been collected; I found this early '90s Marvel Graphic Novel for $5 at Knoxville's remarkable Book Eddy.

Now that I can read the whole thing, however, well, the art sure is good. It's really less of a parody than I thought it was, and more of a straight action piece. It's simple, lighthearted and doesn't really do anything different with the genre's set pieces. You've got the heroes on the run from an evil warlord who has usurped the kingdom, and strange beasts in the hinterlands, and really everything that had been done to death in dozens of Conan cash-ins over the decades. The only oddball points are that all the magicians are big freakin' frogs, our hero is a little incompetent, and one of them speaks with a lisp.

If you like Ian Gibson's art, then rest assured that he draws the hell out of this comic and it looks completely terrific. On the other hand, the writers didn't bring their A-games this time around, and even if you like this Lord of the Rings/D&D stuff, you will certainly have read far better than this before. Recommended only for Gibson fans, really.

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