Writer: Bob Salley Art: Shawn Daley Publisher: Source Point Press
WHAT IS IT?
A 4-issue miniseries that seems like it might be a prequel to OGRE, by the same creative team. This heroes' journey is one of survival, both personal and as a species.
It feels like a lot of medieval fantasy RPGs (or "Role Playing Games," a genre of video game), but from the ogres' side of the story.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Before the rise of man and the fall of monsters and other anthropomorphic or otherwise humanoid creatures, Ogres roamed the earth.
This story takes place at the fulcrum of that power dynamic. The future favors humans, and while those humans fight amongst themselves over land and power, the sentient creatures fight amongst each other for the right to survive into the next era – one ruled by the humans who hunt them.
Tugho, Meika, and Cron are three ogres who survived a recent slaughter of their village by their rivals, the Taesh'aar, purple-skinned, horned-and-tailed creatures who they had shared a peace treaty with...until now.
The Taesh'aar have their own reasons for their actions, and are making a deal with the proverbial devil in hopes that they'll survive the waves of change coming for all of them.
Meanwhile, our heroes will also need help if they want to survive all the changes coming their way, and so they depart in order to find it. Little do they know the adventure that awaits them...
OGRES gives such a great sense of adventure! We feel the danger the ogres face wherever they go, and we get the driving force behind their need to keep moving, rather than play it safely and settle down somewhere.
Shawn Daley managing line art, colors and letters is a very good thing for the comic. As usual when a single creator takes these duties over, we get good incorporation of balloons and sound effects into the art, with an idealized use of the space and telling the story in the purest form of the creators' vision.
Daley knows how to draw the eye with his art and letters, even in ways that stray from the conventional left-to-right. He and writer Bob Salley work well together, and you get a sense of trust from the page. They know when actions will speak louder than words, and let the art carry the story in places where that's the most effective choice.
We get a good balance in the character dynamic. The ogres' relationships with one another are closest, and their bond feels almost familial. The dwarf (Rhett) is exactly what you'd want him to be, testy and quick to fight. His human prisoner, Remley is more reserved, being a prisoner, but we get the sense he has his own rich backstory. Plus, it's interesting keeping a human prisoner, which helps to soften the race's antagonistic light that gets cast on them.
As usual with stories heavy with the theme of war, we see its ugliness, and how it damages everyone involved or uninvolved with it.
Daley's thoughtful palettes are a pleasure in every page turn. Often, they're balanced between green and red or purple and yellow (which also works to show the ogres at odds with the Taesh'aar), or sometimes between warm and cool colors for a less realistic, more emotional effect. It really helps seal in those fantasy genre vibes like the juices of a delicious steak. I also loved his use of the watercolor paper and its texture for colors and word balloon backgrounds, giving the whole book that Shawn Daley signature aesthetic. We also get palette changes that coincide with tonal shifts, showing once again how well Salley & Daley work together, and some great sepia/black-and-white scenes for flashbacks.
Pacing is also one of Daley's stronger suits, and moments feel timed just right, like they're taking up exactly as much space as you'd imagine they would in a book or film. Daley's panels are untraditionally shaped, as are his layouts, but he still makes use of some of my favorite comic book art tricks, like splitting a single scene into multiple panels or using several small but equally-sized panels to show a quick succession of events.
Issue #3's inking effects and splotchy background are so moody, they're a delight to take in. The water effects over and between panels was another lovely flourish of Daley's art.
We really feel the drive forward throughout this story, like a clock is counting down for our characters, motivating them. Whether it's saving someone specific or trying to save a whole race from sickness, it keeps the pace up and the pages turning!
The ending and its lead-up are satisfying and very much fit within the world's tone. I don't want to give anything away here, but it feels inspired by some of my favorite JRPGs of yesteryear, and also feels like the door is still open for more tales to be told within this world.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
It might have been fixed before publication, but Daley does the lettering "no-no" of using the crossbar "I" for words like "if." We also get a couple misspellings (like in "judgment"), but nothing too crazy or numerous.
There's a very "doomed" sense to all the characters in this book and to the story overall, enhanced further by the story in OGRE. There's a very real and palpable melancholy to Daley's art and to Bob Salley's story because of this, and the story within OGRES can sit heavy. If that's not a flavor of fantasy you're into, you might want to be aware of it now. Then again, the sense of hope you feel toward the characters and their fates is such a driving force in this comic, I'd warn you against passing on it.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
For fans of OGRE, OGRES feels like a homecoming. It's wonderful revisiting this world Salley and Daley built and being able to explore it further.
Those who haven't been lucky enough or able to read OGRE shouldn't fret, however. OGRES is plenty enjoyable as its own standalone journey – you don't have to read anything else in order to enjoy it.
That being said, I recommend both titles, especially for fans of fantasy, magic and the hero's journey. Shawn Daley's in his element with sprawling fantasy world like this one, and Bob Salley's keen vision for this universe is grand and ensorcelling. For fantasy fans, reading OGRES is like pulling on a beloved, cozy sweater: you know what you're getting into and it's exactly what you wanted.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Salvagers by Bob Salley & George Acevedo
Drift by Edward Haynes & Martyn Lorbiecki
She Said Destroy by Joe Corallo & Liana Kangas
If you like the art:
Ogre by Bob Salley & Shawn Daley
Ascender by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen
Dept. H, Vol. 1 by Matt Kindt
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Bob Salley – Writer
Multitalented: Also an editor at Source Point Press
His comic, Salvagers, is meant to branch out into multiple different stories and titles, as well as board games and other media
Shawn Daley – Art & Letters
Multitalented: Does the line art, watercolor and lettering for this comic
Outlander: Lives in Toronto
Covers Bad Religion & NOFX songs with an 8bit/chiptune sound
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