If there’s one thing that is sorely underrepresented in the world of comics it’s comedy. And if there’s one thing that’s beyond sorely underrepresented in the world of comics it would be barbarian comedy comics.
Yeah, that’s right, barbarian comedy comics. No, I’m not talking about sword and sorcery books with some sissy lead character who runs around jizzing magic all over the place. Those’re a dime a dozen and they’re lame. I’m talking Conan, Kull, Warlord… Smash your face, drink your booze, and bang your wench/boy-toy barbarian comics! But with, y’know, jokes and stuff.
What, you may ask, happens when you combine a hardcore barbarian comic with comedy of the highest order?
I’m glad you asked, because it just so happens you get the book I’m reviewing in this week’s edition of YOU’RE SO WEIRD MULTIVERSE!
Let’s get into it.
THRUD THE BARBARIAN HC
Publisher Titan Comics
Writer/Artist – Carl Critchlow
Having just burned through this first collected volume of Thrud comics originally published as a mini from 2002-2007, I have only one question to ask:
Carl Critchlow, where have you been all my life?
What’s that? Hiding out in the pages of British RPG magazines since the early 80s? Well, that explains it. It doesn’t make me happy, but it explains it. Yes, for the first time in my life I wish I was a British-born devotee of Gary Gygax, for if that were the case I would have experienced the supreme excellence of Thrud the Barbarian long before this week. It’s honestly a little messed up just how much I enjoyed this comic. I want more immediately and I want it jacked directly into my veins.
Thrud the Barbarian is a comic that parodies everything and anything from the sword & sandals world of fantasy comics, films, and literature, and, as the title would suggest, pays special attention to the more barbaric corners of the genre. If you’re a fan of the early works of the Austrian Oak then you’ll be right at home flipping through the pages of Thrud. At times slipping in some subtle dialogue or a sight gag while at others smashing you across the face with over-the-top slapstick or general silliness, THRUD THE BARBARIAN is what the lads from Monty Python would create if they had one massively muscled troupe member and an unlimited budget. Yes, I just invoked Python and yes, I fucking mean it.
As this book was originally printed as five single issues of a mini-series, it gives this collected edition a bit of an anthology feel. Each of the five tales featured makes use of a different locale and a different cast of characters, save for Thrud, and finds our hero up against all manner of human and supernatural threats. From sorcerers, to snow dragons, to lizardmen and jaguar-dudes, Thrud runs afoul of them all in his quest for an unending flagon of beer and a delicious packet of crisps.
Comedy in general is hard to pull off and comedy in comic book form is often nearly impossible. Carl Critchlow makes it look easy through each and every tale, and not to mention beautiful.
The artwork on display actually caught me by surprise with it’s detail and draftmanship. Critchlow has clearly been at this a long time and it shows in his expert storytelling and wonderful shot composition. Never has a head being punched bloodily from a man’s shoulders looked so stunning. Apparently, the style Critchlow employed on this series was almost a complete reinvention and I hope he never looks back because the linework is some of the most distinctive I’ve seen in quite some time. Amazingly, he also supplies the colour art, and while the muted palette may not be to everyone’s liking, I found it to be a perfect complement to the artwork and the story being told.
Of all of the things I’ve read for the first time while writing Multiverse, I think I might just rank Thrud as the piece of work I’ve enjoyed the most. It’s fun, it’s beautiful, it’s deceptively clever, and it’s the most purely entertaining thing I’ve read in months. Sometimes you don’t have to cure cancer or plumb the deepest depths of the human condition to create great comics. Sometimes you just have to entertain the hell out of people.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick this collection up and buy a copy for any friend you think might dig it. Here’s hoping it makes a great many fans in North America with this release because I very selfishly would like to see more of this series and after reading it, so will you.
A comedy comic featuring a barbarian marauder that would make Graham Chapman proud?
You’re so WEIRD, Multiverse!
…and that’s why I love you.
And remember, if you’re gonna GEEK OUT, GEEK HARD!
To See Kris’s comic work, visit www.bizarrecomicsonline.com
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