I’m not a big fan of sports. It’s just not something I find interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching people compete. Competition reality shows, especially those centered around cooking, are some of my favorite shows to watch. One reason for this is the people on reality shows have personalities. That’s not to say that athletes don’t, but unless you’re the kind of person who watches every pre-game and post-game, or has SportsCenter playing in the background at all times, sports aren’t generally geared toward showcasing who the players are off the field. Whereas watch a single episode of a reality competition show, and you instantly get a feel for who the contestants are in their daily lives.
Wild Nature is an original graphic novel that perfectly lines up with my interest in competition reality shows. Written and drawn by David Taylor, this indie action comic centers around a brutal game show. Two teams, each wearing customized animal masks, have ninety minutes to either kill each other out or have the most surviving members when time runs out. The story centers around Swan, one of the members of Team Animal. They’re one of the best teams in the entire league and Swan is their captain and star player.
However, Swan is more than just a killing machine. He may be good at taking out opponents, but he’s no sociopath. I found Swan’s emotional journey even more compelling than the action scenes as I read through the first chapter of Wild Nature, “A Goddamned Slaughterhouse.” It’s great to see a main character who is not only a black man but also well developed. Over the course of about eighty pages, Taylor gives Swan a lot of depth and substance.
I found the story’s pacing to be a little on the slow side. The plot is also a little predictable, though that doesn’t keep it from being entertaining. I do wish Taylor had put the rules of the game earlier in the book. By the time the exact objective and rules of the game are revealed, it doesn’t really matter to the narrative anymore. Despite these minor flaws, Wild Nature is still a fun read. My favorite part of this first volume was the announcers. They narrate what’s happening in the game as it plays out across the pages. This provides an interesting contrast to Swan’s inner monologue. The voice in Swan’s head is a nice touch. It’s interesting to see a character influenced by an impulse that amounts to the opposite of a conscious. The red letters and black background used for this internal voice really make the words pop on the page.
In fact, all the lettering is well done. Taylor plays with different fonts and text sizes throughout this first volume. While always managing to keep the look consistent. When it comes to drawing the characters, Taylor’s art style reminds me of King of the Hill, but in the best way possible. This illustration style is perfect for rendering emotion on the characters’ faces. Such expression of feelings keeps Wild Nature from devolving into a generic action story. Although there are only a couple of action scenes, Taylor keeps things visually interesting by changing perspective between panels. It gives the book a dynamic feel and helps even out the story’s pacing.
Fans of Gamer, Death Race, or even the Hunger Games will want to get their hands on a copy of Wild Nature. This graphic novel, the first part of a planned trilogy, is due out in March. It can be purchased from Buy Small Press. The series’ Kickstarter campaign has met its goal, but if you’d like to learn more about the series or want to check out Taylor’s other upcoming projects, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dftaylor/wild-nature-blood-soaked-neon-drenched-thriller
Story: David Taylor Art: David Taylor
Story: 8.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
Graphic Policy was provided with a FREE copy for review