This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Halls Of The Turnip King.
I picked up Halls Of The Turnip King, published by Pegamoose Press yesterday from my LCS. It was written, drawn and hand lettered by Brenda Hickey. Originally released as a very limited series with a small print run, Halls Of The Turnip King also adds a thirteen page epilogue to the story, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
The plot is actually pretty simple; an elf prince goes to the dwarf kingdom to forge an alliance because the king believes a war is coming. But the prince would rather be playing video games than playing politics and doesn’t really have any idea what he’s doing. But where the plot is fairly straight forward it allows Hickey to really go to two with the humour in the book. If you like visual gags, the honouring, mickey-taking and subverting of fantasy tropes then this is going to be a book you’ll want to get your hands on.
Hickey also has some really fantastic examples of lettering and playing with the panel layouts and sound effects. One of these moments has a sound effect tapping a character on the shoulder to get his attention. I love the way that Hickey is able to work these often subtle moments into the graphic novel. It honestly wasn’t until I started writing this column that I realized just how much I enjoyed the way Hickey has drawn and lettered the comic. There’s an energy here that makes the comic feel almost Monty Python-eqsue at times, but it always feels like a complete and cohesive vision from Hickey.
There’s also a good lesson in the comic, too, but if I tell you what it is then it’ll probably give away too much of the story. The plot is fairly basic on paper, and that’s actually one of the comic’s strengths.
Hickey shows that you don’t need to have a Lord Of The Rings or Game Of Thrones/A Song of Ice And Fire style epic to tell a good story. Sometimes, a story about trying to forge an unlikely alliance can turn out to be exactly what you want to read on a Saturday morning (yes, I am writing this half an hour before publication). I read this book in one sitting, and I enjoyed each and every page of the book. Art, humour, the lettering (which is an underrated side of comics in and of itself) are utterly fantastic.
If this was a review of the book, I’d probably be looking at giving it upwards of an eight or a nine (I say this because there aren’t that many reviews of the book from what a quick google search found). But, because this isn’t a review, what I will say is that this is an Underrated gem and was worth every penny of the $30 it cost me.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.