COMIC REVIEW: "Gogor #1"

Created, written, drawn, colored, lettered by Ken Garing

If Ken Garing's Gogor feels vastly different from his debut series (Planetoid, 2012), it's entirely by design.

"Gogor #1" cover by Ken Garing

Gogor places the reader in a fantastical land, equal parts Miyazaki and Tolkien. The adventure fantasy comic centers around young Armano, a former student at the School of Natural Arts, who literally has a quest thrust upon him with scarce notice. He must get the scroll to Greenpeak, a fabled land at any cost and without question.

Armed only with wits, a spear, and his trusty stead, Mesmer (a literal shrew), Armano narrowly escapes the Domus, a group terrorizing the land of Altara. Along his journey he comes across Wexil, a purportedly benevolent creature with connections. They soon journey to a refuge, where other supporting characters are introduced. Repacked and replenished, the two continue on to Greenpeak. As Armano speaks aloud the scroll...nothing happens. That is until a secret compartment is located and the seed for the story is literally, and truly, planted. The Domus appear again, attempting to play spoiler to our hero's efforts, but not before we are introduced to the titular character, Gogor. A hulking man-beast, with a look seemingly inspired by The Hulk, Swamp Thing, and traditional folklore. The nature and function of such a creature is only mildly hinted at in rhyme. What is its origin? What is its purpose? Will it ultimately save or ruin the land of Altara?

Gogor is the brainchild of Garing, percolating for 20 years in sketches, treatments, and drafts. As stated in the letter's page, Garing wanted to get away from the cold, metal landscape of Planetoid. Now seeking refuge in a lush green tapestry, mixing fields, trees, and animals on scale with the "Secrets of Nimh", Garing plays daringly, splashing vibrant, stark colors throughout the book. The clean and unencumbered artistic style lets the story play out magnificently. There is beauty in the simplicity of both design and layout. Garing's words evoke a tone seen in other fantasy projects like "Willow" and the "Dark Crystal". Through non-linear storytelling, Garing shows he's willing to forgo traditional tropes and instead convey his ideas in a much more nuanced manner. One hopes that he maintains this blend of traditional and modern techniques in future issues.

There are hints of meta commentary within the story: ownership, especially is called in question. This seems intentional from Garing, who fully advocates for creator owned projects. It will be interesting to see if this manifests in future issues.

A fantasy tale at times familiar and yet inspired, Garing modestly hopes for a 10 issue run. The ground is laid for that and much, much more. A year run for this fully creator conceived and produced project isn't anything to scoff at, Gogor promises epic adventure, even on a micro scale. If you're looking for an alternative to the tights and capes crowd, Gogor gleams with wonder and whimsy.

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