I got a chance to attend the most recent HeroesCon, which is a comic book convention here in Charlotte.
The event, one of the best-regarded comic book conventions in the country, is held every year around Father’s Day, is sponsored by local comic-book store Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find and is like heaven to geeks like me.
To ride down the escalator to the show floor and listen to the sounds of people arguing the merits of who’s smarter: Jimmy Corrigan or Amadeus Cho. . . Who would win in a fight: Hulk or Thor? Could Superman pick up Thor’s hammer?
It is the music of my people.
One of the best parts about the convention is that it plays host to a veritable host of small-time comic-book creators. These are the folks who aren’t published by the big-time folks at Marvel, DC, Image, Boom, or even Dark Horse. These are the dudes and dudettes who form their own publication firm to put out their own comic books.
These are the fertile fields of independent, non-mainstream comic book creators. And walking through the Artists’ Alley, perusing the various and sundry publications. . . It’s a total blast for me.
As I was aisle cruising on the Saturday of the show, I ran across an interesting little book. And I do mean little. Giant! is four inches by six inches and, despite the name, which suggests something really, really tall, the book is wider than it is tall. A lovely little black-and-white interior tells the story of Deedrick a hapless young man in a medieval walled city.
Everything goes wrong for poor Deedrick. He accidentally insults the local lord, renders his castle’s gate inoperative and, basically, just messes up the joint. As a punishment, he’s sentenced to being lowered off the top of the castle to scrub off the pigeon poop from the sentient gargoyles that lurk around the heights, serving as protectors when needed.
And, as you might guess, they are needed rather quickly. Once again, by pure happenstance, Deedrick manages to wake a nasty giant from a centuries-long sleep. Of course, it immediately goes on a rampage, as these sorts of things are wont to go. It’s up to Deedrick and a host of blandly engaging characters, including a pretty cool gargoyle, to save the day. If they can stop messing up long enough to actually get it done.
The story is cute and fairly predictable. It’s, well, serviceable. I mean, it gets from point a to point b without too much trouble. Despite what seems like a horrifying danger, it never really feels like anyone is in danger. There’s no real emotional investment in the characters. However, that’s not really necessary.
Writer and artist of Giant!, Chris Wharton, invests his main character with enough bumbling charm and enthusiasm that you don’t really need to get invested in his fate to enjoy reading about him. Wharton’s pencils are instantly engaging, sharing a sort of cartoony or animated simplicity. Despite a paucity of backgrounds, the art was slick enough to really carry the lightweight story.
My one gripe is that the ending came much too easy for our heroes. There’s the suggestion for how to beat the giant, they do it. The giant is beaten. The end. It felt rushed and, when the ending came across as that simple, a rushed ending really feels rushed.
There was a tremendous amount of potential in this story. Considering that Wharton ended the story with a nice little bit that suggests another story on the way, I have a feeling that we’re going to get a chance to watch him improve in the next volume. I’d love to tell you how much the comic costs, but it’s not listed anywhere on the book itself. Giant! originally was printed through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site that allows creators to solicit money from anyone.
The comic’s website, www.giantcomic.com, hasn’t been updated since it met its funding goal on Kickstarter in 2012. However, Wharton has an art page where you might be able to contact him. If you’re interested, maybe you can get hold of him and buy a comic directly from him. Can’t hurt to give it a try.
Despite the shortcomings, I’d really recommend this comic, especially for the younger readers. I have a feeling little dudes and dudettes in third through sixth grade would really dig this. I’d give this a solid three dudes out of five.