Tag Archives: farlaine the goblin

Goblins, Trees And Hope: Talking Farlaine The Goblin With Pug Grumble

Pug Grumble, the pen name for the mysterious creator behind one of the most effortlessly charming series you’ll ever come across, would rather your attention be on his creation rather than himself, which is fine because his creation is wonderful. Farlaine is a book about a goblin shaman desperately searching for a home for his best friend, the tree Ehrenroot. With the sixth book en route very soon, Graphic Policy  recently sat down for a quick chat about the on going creator owned book series.

farlaine banner.pngGraphic Policy: For those who haven’t heard of, or read, Farlaine the Goblin before, can you tell us what it’s about?
Pug Grumble: Sure! Farlaine the Goblin is a story of a little tree goblin shaman named Farlaine who’s been searching for a forest to call his own for a looong time. He’s been searching for years, has gone through hundreds of lands, and is down to his final 10 lands left to explore. His only companion on this journey is his best tree Ehrenwort, who he carries in a pouch on his back. Ehrenwort is from his parents forest where Farlaine grew up, which means Ehr provides a conduit back home to the magic of that forest. This magic lets him make seeds grow really, really fast!
The series is 7 books long and each book is a self-contained story about one of those lands. And they’re all weird lands! In The Saltlands everything is made of salt, even the people. In The Racelands you need to race everywhere you’re going or get stuck in an invisible box. The Twistlands is full of twisters and tornadoes of every shape and size. The idea being – there’s a reason he hasn’t found his own forest yet!
GP: Where did the idea for the story come from?
PG: It all started with a drawing. I started doodling this big ogre/troll with big horns and a grass skirt and all these skulls and potions on his belt. He was casting a spell and was a very scary looking dude! But I also gave him an empty backpack that I didn’t know what to put in. I did the rest of the drawing first, and while pondering what to put in the backpack it suddenly clicked – a tree! If this guy was a shaman, that’s what he’d carry with him if he went on vacation. He’d take a tree so he could cast spells away from home!
It seemed perfect. I labeled the drawing “shaman from another land”.From there I started to ponder him and draw him more. He just stuck in there, and over the next year or two he became more polished, his personality emerged, and a story started to take shape. Finally, I got to a point where I really wanted to bring this character to life and read his story myself. So I did :)GP: The story has a very all ages feel to it without being overly kid like, which is wonderful. Do you find it more challenging to write in a style that appeals to both young and old kids? 

PG: When I first started writing the series I wrote it entirely for myself. There was no plan to write for any specific audience; I just wrote what I wanted to read.

After I finished the first three volumes and started showing it to people I began hearing the phrase ‘all-ages’ bandied about and realized I’d accidentally written a book that appealed more broadly than I’d guessed. I think I just have a silly view of life that accidentally translated well :)
After I made that discovery I tried to keep it in mind going forward. There were some stories where I might have thrown in a swear word or made something a little more adult, but intentionally toned it back down to avoid crossing the line I’d accidentally set up. I still remember one book where I wrote “helluva”, thinking nothing of it, and had a reviewer complain it wasn’t a kid-friendly word. In my mind I was using a word common enough to be found on a brand of cheese, but to some, it was too adult. I changed that word for subsequent printings and made sure to now read for those kinds of perspectives.
I also tried hard to simplify some of the wording and length, especially after Book 3 where I felt I got too wordy and over-explained things. I tried to use less words, tighten things up, and be ready to break apart panels or add pages if it made for an easier read.
Even now I still overwrite a page or scene and find myself chopping out and rewriting dialogue to keep things within reason. I never want to talk down to kids, but I also don’t want to intimidate them with word balloons :)
farlaine pageGP: Personally, I’d never have considered “helluva” to be a crass word, but then I’m probably less offended by certain words than most. That being said, I think the all ages tag line lends a much purer feeling to the book; I couldn’t imagine the story any other way at this point. How long does it take you to create each issue? Can you talk us through the process?

PG: Yeah, I can’t really fault the original comment too much. If you’re reading the book to a 5 year old it could force a tricky explanation for a parent. And in general, it probably helped send me down a safer path going forward :)

WARNING: Rambling Ahead!

The books have taken me more and more time as I’ve gone, pretty much the opposite of what I was expecting when I began!

When I first started I’d left a job and had some savings and unemployment to last me a year. I had the first book written before I started and had the plot and story well defined for books 2-3, so I had a good sense of where I was going with those first 3. Those 3 books I finished drawing in 9 months, roughly 110 pages of art.

But from there things slowed down dramatically. I had to go back to a desk job and a long commute, so the next year was spent editing the first three books, drawing the covers, pitching to publishers, and finally designing and printing copies of Book 1 in order to submit it to Diamond so I could get in their catalog and into stores.

When Diamond accepted me I then had to do all the publishing work of releasing 3 books, getting reviews, hitting conventions, etc. It was a lot of work to fit around the day job, so by the time I started writing Book 4 it had been a year since I’d finished drawing Book 3.

My goal was always to tell the best stories I could and not focus on a release schedule, so even though I knew it wasn’t great to have huge gaps, I tried to think longterm about the quality of the finished series. In my mind Farlaine had potential as a fairy tale that could appeal to audiences for decades.

Starting with Book 4 the stories weren’t set in stone, which meant a lot more time building the stories out. The process for Books 4-7 has been different from those original 3.

Book 4 I wrote and drew while working a full time job, so it took me more than a year to complete. I realized at that rate it would take me 5 years to finish the series, so I saved up some money and left the job with an eye on finishing Books 5-7 in one run.

Which finally brings me back to your original question – how I work now.

First I collect ideas for months, throwing story ideas, tidbits, lines of dialogue, plot points, world building, and everything else into a bunch of text files in a folder. Once I collect enough ideas and reach critical mass, I start to coalesce them down to a real story. I spend a lot of time on the plotting and writing side of things to try to not do obvious stories or repeat things I’ve already read. My hope is to come up with something a little different that I haven’t read before.

It usually takes me a month or two to write an issue of Farlaine, with my focus mainly on the dialogue and overall plot points and not as much on the visuals.

Once I finish the script I start drawing, but it’s almost like a different part of my brain, so I just print off a page or two at a time and draw what’s on that page. I don’t memorize it or look ahead, letting myself be surprised by things I forgot.

I generally draw one page at a time. For me layouts get boring and lose a lot of their enjoyment and creativity if I plan too far ahead. I prefer surprises and giving ideas the space to grow as I go. I often end up drawing things that weren’t in the script but came to me as I was working. I like that organic aspect a lot.

I also draw really slow. Most guys in comics seem born with a pencil in their hand – I didn’t start drawing until I was 15. So I’m slow and need to figure things out. What I discovered by issue 3 of Farlaine was an approach I stole from David Petersen of Mouse Guard. I started drawing pencil versions of all the characters and angles on separate pieces of paper, then scanning them in and Photoshopping them together with the dialogue onto a template page, which I’d then print out and lightbox. This allowed me to manipulate the sizes I drew characters and move them around to fit the dialogue properly. In that first issue or two you can see a lot of places where the proportions are off, the dialogue is covering art, body parts are randomly arranged or cut off. Most of that was my weak spots showing through:)

So once I started the ‘layout and lightbox’ approach I think the art got a lot better, but also took a lot longer. These days I usually spend one day on all those layout drawings, scanning them in, and printing off that 11×17 rough template. It then takes another day to re-pencil the page, tighten things up, add backgrounds, and finally ink it. I work traditionally with a nib and bottles of ink, so it adds time for ink to dry, pencils to be erased, etc.

From there I scan the finished art back in, do some digital whiteout, and letter the page, before finally printing off the next page of the script and moving on.

In general, I average about 2-3 pages of finished art/week when I’m in a groove. If I get caught up with publishing duties or the rest of life, sometimes that dwindles to a page or less in a week.

Since my stories are now ranging between 40-50 pages each, this means a single volume can take me 6+ months to write and draw, as opposed to those early ones that were cranking along in about 3 months!farlaine page 2.jpg

GP: It sounds like you prefer a very fluid process when creating the comic. Have you ever found that the art can take you in a different direction than the original script?
PG: Yes, for sure. That’s a large part of the reason I try to keep it fluid. Many times I’ve overwritten what can fit on the page and need to consolidate it down, which can lead to creative solutions. Other times I’ve had ideas on one page that completely altered the next few that followed it. I’ve even had a few characters that grew organically out of what I was drawing. A good example would be in the third issue, The Racelands. I didn’t have a lot established for the other race participants in the original script. I knew one was going to be the pirate mushroom and another the timberjack, but little else. As I was drawing the book I really enjoyed drawing the pirate mushroom, so I tried to not only include him more, but tweak part of the end of the story to incorporate him.The fungal end of that story came from that fluid approach. And now he’s popping back up in Book 7, which I’m drawing right now. Originally, he was just a background character for a few pages.
GP: So it’s safe to say that the way you create the comic keeps the essence of Farlaine’s creativity?
PG: Yeah, I think of Farlaine as a fairly creative character, often having to think his way out of situations, and the comic is certainly similar. It’s a lot of writing or drawing yourself into a corner and then having to figure out a way out of it that works and feels authentic to the story and characters. There have been a few times I’ve certainly cornered myself and then spent a month trying to figure out how to get out of it!!

I’m sure there are a lot of parallels between the story and the creation of the book :).



Farlaine
is available for purchase here.

Review: Farlaine The Goblin #5

A couple of years ago, a comic fell into my lap from an independent studio that was, up until that time, nowhere near my radar. And then I met Farlaine.Farlaine5-Normal-Cover.jpg

Published by Studio Farlaine, Farlaine The Goblin is a series that can (and should) be read by anybody, regardless of what issue is your first. Each comic is a standalone story that follows a goblin tree shaman by the name of Farlaine (pronounced Far-lin) and his companions, a robot named Tink and Farlaines’ friend Ehrenwort the tree as they travel the lands looking for a forest to call home for Ehrenwort. After years of searching, there is only a few lands left in order to find a forest within which to plant Ehrenwort. The brilliance of this premise lays in its innocent simplicity; even though Farlain The Goblin #5 isn’t the first part of this story, it can still be read and enjoyed regardless of whether you’re steeped in the series history, or if you just want to check out something new and different.

The comic clocks in at just under fifty pages, and is as effortlessly charming as the goblin himself, with Pug Grumble’s joyous delivery and willingness to explore concepts that are wonders of the imagination; this book reminds of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in that some of the ideas within this world shouldn’t make a lick of sense, but under Grumble’s masterful hand not only do they (still not really) make sense, but you don’t want to worry too hard about how they’d work. There’s a sense of innocent wonder here, with the author’s willingness to embrace the magical fantasy worlds created in his mind without over explaining irrelevant things like time and space the reader is free to just let their mind wander through this glorious black and white masterpiece.

The challenge with any black and white art is to convey the detail, texture and shade through only two colours – and that’s especially true with a book that has such a vividly imaginative story. Thankfully, the art is incredible. The way Grumble is able to make the subtlest of changes in the way the little goblin’s eyebrows are drawn to give him an entirely different emotional response is always a joy to see. Yeah, I love this series. It’s always such a pleasure to read.

If you do want to start the series from the begining, or you’re not sure this wonderful comic is for you, then there is a free pdf of the first issue available at Farlaine‘s websitehere. Once you’ve read that, you can also order the previous issues online, here.

Farlaine The Goblin #5 is another brilliant chapter in the goblin’s journey to find a home, and it’s one that you really need to check out. There is no reason for you not to be reading this. This issue is available now, with the sixth on the way soon

Story: Pug Grumble Art: Pug Grumble
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5
 Recommendation: Buy

Studio Farlaine provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Justice League #44 CoverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Farlain The Goblin #4 (Studio Farlain) – Oh my goodness. This is an absolutely great comic that tells a story of a goblin trying to find a forest. If it sounds simple, well, it is. But it’s also incredibly endearing, and amazingly fun.

Archie #3 (Archie Comics) – It’s hard to believe I had never read an issue of Archie before this version was released. This reminds me of the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man minus the spandex. And radioactive spiders.

Batman Annual #4 (DC Comics)After the last issue of Batman (if you haven’t read Elana’s article about it, you should), my excitement level is really high with this comic. I cannot wait to see what is in store for us in the fourth annual.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Secret Coders Vol. 1 (First Second) – The latest graphic novel from Gene Luen Yang. This is one I’ve been waiting for since I heard about it a few years ago at the National Book Festival. It takes place at Stately Academy, a school with many mysteries to solve, and Yang has worked in real logic puzzles and programming instruction into this graphic novel which not only entertains, but also teaches you too!

Justice League #44 (DC Comics) – Justice League is in the middle of an epic with the team caught in between a battle of giants, and members going every which way. This is a story on a massive scale that can only happen in comics.

Rasputin #9 (Image Comics) – It’s Rasputin in the middle of a modern-day political campaign, and it’s fascinating.

Transformers #45/Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #45 (IDW Publishing) – I love IDW’s various Transformers series, and both take interesting spins this week, one with a lot of action, and the other with a look at some reject Decepticons. So good and never disappoints.

Zodiac Starforce #2 (Dark Horse) – The first issue was fun, and fleshed out the previous minicomic I read from years back. The series looks like it’ll be an interesting take on a familiar formula (Sailor Moon), but overall the key is fun and entertaining.

 

Elana

Archie #3 (Archie Comics) – I have never read an Archie book in my life (other than Archie Vs Predator) till I read this one. It is so good. Cute dialog, wonderful character studies. All ages goodness. Fiona Stapels is Magic. Jugghead is my new fave.

Grayson Annual #2 (DC Comics) – This series manages to be funny, suspenseful, unpredictable, fanservicey as hell but also suprisingly emotionally raw when it wants to be. I think this week it wants to be.

Material TP (Image Comics) – If this comic had a genre it would be Derida. The new trade paperback includes an essay by friend of GP, Spencer Ackerman. A political an urgent comic about the issues of the day like racism, surveillance and artificial intelligence.

Zodiac Starforce #2 (Dark Horse) – Sailor Moon 2.0? A former sailor scouts type team is coming into their later teens and struggling with what that means. Lovely art and colors. Nice diverse cast.

 

Mr. H

Top Pick: Grayson Annual #2 (DC Comics) – Every issue of this title has been an absolute hit. Now factor in we get a meeting between Clark and Dick in their new lives, you’ve got the makings of a classic!

Captain America: White #2 (Marvel Comics) – I loved the first issue. This team is always dynamite for me, it’s nice to see Cap and Bucky back in their purest form.  Bring on the baddies!

Green Lantern Annual #4 (DC Comics) – We finally get to find out where Hal got Darlene from and more insight into his new mission. I’m buckled in, lets head through the blasting zone!

Justice League #44 (DC Comics) – The cosmic battle royale continues. I am so pumped to see what becomes of Bat-God, Evil Superman and oh yeah those other guys too.

Superman #44 (DC Comics) – The awaited finale to “Truth”. Let’s see if it comes with some Justice!

Review: Farlaine The Goblin #4

ftgFarlaine The Goblin #4, published by Studio Farlaine, is an all ages fairy tale comic that follows a goblin tree shaman by the name of Farlaine (pronounced Far-lin) and his companions, a robot named Tink and Farlaines’ friend Ehrenwort the tree as they travel the lands looking for a forest to call home, and after years of searching, there is only seven lands left for them to find a forest.

If they finish exploring the world without finding a forest, poor Ehrenwort will wither and die, and the loveable goblin Farlaine will wander the lands alone, forever.

Once you’ve read Farlaine, you’ll understand why that would be heartbreaking.

The fifty plus page comic is written and drawn by the same person who remains anonymous in order to keep the focus on the comic itself. Farlaine The Goblin #4 may be the fourth entry into the series, but as each entry thus far has been a self contained story, unless you want to read them all in order, there’s no need to start from the beginning in order to fall in love with the hapless goblin – I didn’t. If you do want to start from the beginning, though, there is a free pdf of the first issue available at Farlaine‘s website, here.

As has already been mentioned, Farlaine The Goblin is is an all ages comic book. But don’t be mistaken by assuming that means it is a comic primarily for younger readers; it’s not, Farlaine The Goblin is a comic that’s all ages because it can be enjoyed by anybody. The anonymous creator injects the story with humour and an excitingly fun and refreshing sense of adventure that includes riding mini-twisters like a skateboard or unicycle. Likewise, the quality of the dialogue between the characters took me back; I didn’t expect to be able to identify with, and understand the characters as quickly as I did. The character development here, especially with Farlaine is really quite something.

In conjunction with the writing, the artwork is a key component to both the superb characterization, and to the story; although the cover is in colour, the main comic is black and white. The art style is easily readable, and yet it’s far from simple. Our anonymous creator has a fantastic ability to render facial expression on the characters, indeed the close up shots of Farlaine‘s face in three panels on pages 10 and 11 of the comic are a personal highlight for me because of the emotion conveyed on the little fellow’s face.

Farlaine The Goblin #4 is, in all honesty, and without any exaggeration, probably the best comic I’ve read all week. The issue will be released to the racks on the 30th of September, and you can also order the previous issues online, here.

This was a joy to read, and I hope you check it out upon release. In the mean time, go read the free copy of issue #1.

Writer: Anonymous Artist: Anonymous
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Studio Farlaine provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review.