Writer & Illustrator: Ben Bender
Publisher: Self Published (Kickstarter)
WHAT IS IT?
A comedic slice-of-life story for readers of all-ages about a little Viking with big dreams of adventure.
Imagine if Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes met Hägar the Horrible!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Meet Beorn: A little Viking who pines for the exploits of legendary warriors. Instead of traveling lands teeming with fantastical beasts, illustrious heroes, and glorious battles, Beorn mulls about. A least he's got enormous mugs of chocolate milk to chug on tap. Life's not so bad for Beorn, but he knows he's meant for more.
Luckily, a wizard bestows the petite Norseman a map and whispers affirmations of fate into Beorn's ear. Crudely drawn images on a piece of parchment is all the motivation Beorn needs and, armed with his adventure map, he sets out on a quest for adventure. Quests don't always go as planned, though, as Beorn proves he has a huge heart and a penchant for mischief.
What perils loom on the horizon for Beorn? Will he achieve legendary hero status? And are hot wings on the menu during his journey?
Ben Bender writes with care about the subject matter. Although the story is light and fluffy, enjoyable for readers of any age, you can't help but feel Ben's genuine passion percolating through the comic.
Bender's art mirrors that of the great Bill Watterson, or even Charles Schulz. Reflections of the comic book strip style add nostalgia and warmth, but Bender's lines are sharp and clean, impressed on the page like a whetted blade.
Earth-tone colors convey the historic Viking era atmosphere. Brown-dappled maps with serrated edges and a patchworked boat sail pigmented with a forest green color imbue Beorn with the feeling of reading an old Nordic tale.
When Beorn sails in his small boat across the sea, Bender colors ocean waves and billowing clouds with pastel painting sensibilities. No inking in the sea-adjacent backgrounds heighten the cozy realism beautifying these scenes.
For lettering, Bender chooses a highly legible typeface resembling the scrawling font akin to children's penmanship. Slanted font emits the urgency of a kid's unending speech and curiosity. The lettering style externalizes Beorn's child-like mindset.
Bender captures children's idealism, and how mixed perceptions can be better sorted when talking out your inner thoughts -- and Beorn loves to monologue!
Simple panel layouts bordered by thick gutter space gives every panel room to breathe on the page. Children particularly will not be daunted by crammed visuals and crowded speech bubbles.
Beorn is driven by Beorn's sanguine viewpoint and how he perceives the world around him. Equating heroism with battle leads Beorn into situations where self-aware readers will delight in the humor of Beorn's false equivalency.
Though short, Beorn parallels a pilot cartoon episode. Bender's art animates Beorn, bringing a high-spirited energy that could easily be translated onscreen!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Beorn is short and direct. If you're looking for a kid's comic with substance or deeper thematic material, try a different comic. Beorn offers a lighthearted tale with some nuance, but is mostly an unchallenging read for escapism.
I wish we had learned more about the troll that makes a brief appearance. Since Beorn will eventually focus on their friendship later on in the series, readers could have benefited from additional pages about the kindhearted troll.
The story takes a while to pick up the pace, focusing on Beorn trying to kill a crow for food for an extended period of time. While there is plenty of action, parts of Beorn's adventure are more riveting than others.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Volume One of Beorn: The Littlest Viking Saga made me smile and chuckle out loud. Life is a struggle, especially as an adult, so reading about an overly optimistic Viking kid battling a two-headed monster will carve out a piece of happiness into your day. Beorn is a Saturday-morning cartoon in comic book form. Humor not reliant on fart jokes or excessive violence for cheap laughs dials Beorn's enjoyment up to a ten. Rather, Bender employs witty dialogue, but also illustrates hilarious visual gags to communicate comedy.
Accessible comics for kids may be available, but not many of them contain the crisp visuals or humor of Beorn. Bender's easygoing writing style works to entertain both children and adults. Dialogue is not oversimplified, yet respects the reading comprehension of his intended audience.
I used to read Calvin and Hobbes every day as a kid, and Beorn: The Littlest Viking Saga reminds me of Watterson's comics in the best way. This little Viking made a huge impact on me, and I can't wait to adventure with Beorn in further comic volumes. Sail away and read Ben Bender's adorable tale.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Shy Ninja by Ricardo Sanchez, Adara Sanchez, & Arianna Florean
Brigantia by Chris Mole & Melissa Trender
Hilda and the Troll: Hilda Book 1 by Luke Pearson
If you like the art:
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
InvestiGators by John Patrick Green
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ben Bender – Cartoonist (@BenABender)
Ben is a freelance cartoonist who has drawn everything from Calvin and Hobbes to Invader Zim illustrations in his distinct style. You can support his art at his website, here and through his Patreon here.
New Face: Beorn: The Littlest Viking Saga is his first comics Kickstarter work. works mostly with all-ages and kid-friendly art and stories.
He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Ady and their children.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Beorn: The Littlest Viking characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Ben Bender or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED