Before we look closer at his story, let’s get the little guy’s name right. It’s pronounced “FAR-LIN”! For whatever reason, I’ve got some dyslexic thing going on where I keep reading, saying and writing “Fairlane”, like the classic automobile. If you have any of your own issues with the spelling of choice, start your own all-ages fantasy adventure comic.
Fully titled Farlaine the Goblin, A Fairy Tale About Finding Your Own Forest, it tells the saga of Farlaine, a shaman from the Forest of Fin-Din. Scheduled to be told in seven books, the premise is a simple but intriguing one: accompanied by his verdan, Ehrenwort (“Ehr”), a tree he carries on his back as a companion, Farlaine is searching the Oddlands of the world of Wug on a quest to find a forest to call his own. We know Ehr is female (as Farlaine has referred to her as “she”) and sentient (based on conversations we see him having with her), although we only see Farlaine’s end of the dialogue – intuitive or telepathy? It seems goblins having a bond with something from their place of origin in this world is the norm. At one point, Farlaine crosses paths with Obelin the goblin from the Quarry of Quin-Bin and his mehnir, Glaube-a huge rock. All of a sudden, having to haul a small tree around on your back doesn’t seem like such a raw deal…Time is running out, as the two only have 10 lands left to visit. If they can’t find a suitable forest for Farlaine to claim as its’ protector and plant Ehr in, she will wither and die, leaving Farlaine alone to wander without purpose.
Volumes 1-4 (with vol. 5 currently in the works) takes them through the Tinklands, the Saltlands, the Racelands and the Twistlands. Their adventure in the Saltlands draws a new member into their traveling band: a nameless, slow-witted “good” tink – a robotic entity, each of which has been constructed for very specific menial labours. Although there’s been a few clues, we’re not sure what this particular tink’s specialty is as of yet. Nonetheless, a good, loyal ally to have, with a lot of helpful capabilities to get them out of some of the jams they find themselves in – a nice change from the large mass of hostile and mindless tinks Farlaine and Ehr encountered in their sojourn into the actual Tinklands in the previous chapter.
Besides being pretty resourceful and intelligent, Farlaine packs a pretty powerful ability himself. While carrying a pouch of seeds for every plant, tree, fruit and vegetable in existence, Farlaine can rapidly grow anything to a required size for any situation on a moment’s notice. Need a boost? Let’s shoot up a giant root and ride it. Stabilize a heavy structure? No prob, there’s a grove of strong trees for that. Blow something up? Burrow a seed inside it and watch what happens! Think along the lines of Swamp Thing from a certain Distinguished Competition and you get the idea. The only limits here are Farlaine’s knowledge of his inventory and where his imagination takes him. As it hasn’t been fully explained yet, the only thing I’m trying to suss out is if all of Farlaine’s people wield this magic or if he is some kind of “chosen” one. Another theory might be that this is a result of the bond shared with Ehr and needs to be done by the both of them together, as a tiny field of bubbles she constantly radiates seems to grow in intensity whenever that magic is being worked.
Fairlane’s black-and-white art is clean and easy to follow, but has a lot of whimsical details that are fun to look at. The lands are populated by a variety of unique-looking creatures. It’s easy to distinguish good guys and meanies, but nobody’s too scary-looking to handle if you’re sharing this or reading along with any little ones. While there’s nobody under my roof to fit that bill, apparently feedback from that demographic has been very positive and might make this a nice gateway book to wean them onto the comics format. Personally, I was getting a strong European vibe on my initial read, so I wasn’t surprised to find out Asterix and the four-tiered larger book format from over there are listed amongst a multitude of influences.
Deserving special mention is an alternate cover provided by artist Charles Paul Wilson III for vol. 4, that I think would make a great poster for any lover of fantasy art if it was blown up to a larger size and took advantage of its’ eye-catching specially coloured finish. While Farlaine definitely tells its own original story, there’s something familiar in a tale that includes grand adventure, with travel to exotic lands and a huge cast of characters, tinged with just the right element of cartoony-ness to make it all feel that much more comfortable and inviting. In an era where everyone wants anything super-hero or zombie, and you don’t want any of the grittier adult alternatives with more noir, sex and violence, Fairlane and its’ ilk might be the direction to head in, even for a short break, just to revisit some old-school storytelling in its’ purest form.
You may have wondered why I haven’t mentioned the series’ creator’s name throughout this entire piece – that’s because they don’t give it out. In a Q & A at one of the links below, they state they would rather “let the work speak for itself” and only identify themselves with the letter “J” at the end of some notes in the books. Um, okay, that’s their choice and we’ll respect their privacy, but doesn’t that hamper your self-marketing efforts as you’re struggling to earn some recognition? Let me be the first here to assure them it’s a solid effort and nothing to be embarrassed about, so why hide? There’s also a lot of mention in posts of balancing doing Farlaine with a day job. But in 2016, I can’t imagine anyone being legally reprimanded for moonlighting, especially if it’s a labour of love. Well, that’s their own damn business. C’mon man, let the fans who find you know who they’re rooting for!! If something ever gets really big, everyone knows a creator’s name (and its’ value) as well as their property.
While I wouldn’t normally do this, after reading about the absolutely horrible experience they had with a major on-line dealer, I’ll direct you to the website (where there’s a free sample of the first issue), in case you decide you might like to track down a hard copy for yourself and read more: www.farlaine.com.
If you want to do some more digging on exactly who might be behind all of this, I’d suggest starting with the Farlaine the Goblin Facebook page.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!