Sir Jon’s Comic Book Review – Ogre #1-3
As listeners of the radio show and podcast are aware, I am an avid fan of the fantasy genre, as can be seen in the many retellings of my gaming group in the various Great Game columns published here at the Pint website. Unaware of the Great Game? There’s a search function just off to your right. Use it and dive deep.
As an avowed reader of fantasy novels, from Tolkien to Raymond E. Feist, fantasy comic books have always held a special place in my cold, cold heart. It could be argued that the majority of comics are all fantasy, but for now let’s just consider that of the magical, sword and sorcery, or folk tale type of comics. One of the most recent in my list of reads was a short 3-issue series from the fine folk at Source Point Press, OGRE.
OGRE is an unusual tale, one that grabbed me from its initial catalogue solicitation, describing it with a vivid, almost tongue-in-cheek style. When you read of an unusual creature in a jail cell, chained to a corpse whose ghost talks to the creature in question, well. That intrigues one such as me.
OGRE essentially drops the reader into a whirlwind of information at once, from within a prison cell. You learn just enough to tease you into acknowledging that big things are happening. There’s a war between kingdoms, or lands, or countries. There’s a North, and there’s a South. The creature chained to the corpse is the title’s ogre, who never seems to gain a name throughout the mini-series, but then, hardly any of the other characters do. There are other prisoners, all Southern prisoners in a Southern prison, and the North is about to conquer the city they’re imprisoned in. There’s an escape and a rush to get to the correct side of fighting, all while being chased by a group of goblins working for the North (and their own self-interest). It’s a fairly heady story when seen from the outside, but once involved, it is relatively simple and easy to get into.
Bob Salley, the ubiquitous writer of OGRE and many other fine Source Point comics, has found a voice here that might have been lost under another writer’s pen. The dialogue is snappy, descriptive and assertive in a way that fantasy geeks like myself enjoy heartily. This is modern-language fantasy fair, so forget any Ye Olde English that might put you off. These days, very few writers are finding that sort of storytelling engaging, and I’ve no doubt comic book letterers are more the happy for it. He leaves enough open to readers’ interpretation while building a larger picture that isn’t seen as yet. The broad strokes that surround the core plot are enticing.
Shawn Daley provides the cartoons, a word I’m using with the highest respect. Daley is truly a cartoonist, with fine strikes of black ink defining the boundaries of all central characters. His coloring wash gives the three issues a good, solid background the story revolves through. In some locations the colors are lighter, in others they’re brighter. It’s obviously intentional and it’s quite nice on the printed page. The panel layouts are nice too, with some pages having seven or more panels on them, which endears me to no end. I’ve been doing an awful lot of panel counting as I read these new comics costing 4 or more dollars per issue and three panels per page just doesn’t cut it for me. Marvel and DC need to step it up and see what artists like Shawn Daley can do with many more panels!
Daley also provides the letters, in which the word balloons are placed with proper care, allowing for the art to be showcased and reading to be done easily and story to be followed well.
Overall, OGRE would fit well with any regular fantasy fan, even a lapsed one. During the whole story, the reader can feel the weight of life on the characters, though with much of the surrounding situations being just out of reach, it isn’t felt on the reader themselves. It’s an interesting story style, being thrust into the action and not knowing all the pieces to the puzzle, yet the characters do. It leaves a reader wanting, which I personally have always liked, because I do want more OGRE.
The first issue is the most difficult of the three to penetrate, as some of the characters are difficult to separate from each other somewhat, and the lack of names leaves one a little lost. The second issue ramps up the story and action, allowing for a little more interaction between our escapees, where they’re going and what they’re about. It’s not an infoblast by any means, but it does set the stage for a very strong finish with issue three, which I found to be the best of the series. It isn’t often that I have an entire run of a comic in front of me and claim the last to be the best, so OGRE has hit some new ground for me in that area. There is a single page in issue three that has ten panels in an amazing action sequence that had me loving comics all over again. I’d share it with you here, but I want you all to pick the series us and see what comic books should be: the marriage of art and story that fulfills on a level sustained by excellence. While OGRE might stutter step in the beginning, it by far reaches the goals it strives for.
OGRE #1-3 scores 4-and-a-half beers out of six on the Beer-O-Meter, a high Sir Jon recommendation.
Ogre #1-3 was released monthly between October and December of 2018. They are available now at Source Point Press or better Friendly Local Comic Book Stores everywhere. Get yours now and get ready for the next series. You know you want it.