The premise is that fantastical creatures from fairies to Bigfoot are just wild animals so virtually extinct that they pass into legend. A US government department called The Lodge cares for these unusual animals in the wild or brings them into captivity.
Using the tried and tested formula of a new partner we get to follow Ginger Brown as she transfers into this strange new world from the FBI. This is very X-Files, Hellboy and noticeably very Chew.
There is a monster of the week theme as well as getting to know this strange new world. The narrative is constantly flipping back to earlier points in time but always with huge signposts letting you know. There are also constant popup boxes telling you about the creatures (Cryptids as they are correctly termed), supplying trivia, or world-building details. That and the constant epigraph heralding the location of each new scene makes this a very wordy book that can bog down in places.
The art has its own style, sketchy but with thick black lines. All the colours are matt or pastel inks, with hardly any red at all, reinforcing the natural and ecological themes of the book. The panel shapes and layout are endlessly dynamic lending a wild and unpredictable feeling to the world that really works. There are some great colour selections for snow and nocturnal scenes bringing a true sense of place. There a lot of words on the page but effort has been put into the lettering to keep things distinct. A nice touch are the period newspaper articles on the inside covers that you assume are fake until you have read the book then aren’t so sure.
A very good start, with a strong idea, well realised characters, and a unique world. Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Proof: The Company of Men – Alexander Grecian