Top Shelf Productions, 2009
400 pages, Graphic novel/Adventure
4 1/2 out of 5 stars
I first started reading Kevin Cannon’s graphic novel Far Arden while about halfway through another book. I’m usually pretty good at reading two books at once, alternating whimsically as my mood dictates. I could not do that with Far Arden. Ten pages in and I set it aside and finished the other book. Far Arden was already a fascinating adventure story that I wanted to immerse myself in completely and without distraction.
The reader will benefit from knowing the story of how this book was produced: Cannon was challenged to draw one 24-hour comic (24 pages drawn and completed in 24 hours) each month for an entire year. While the process didn’t quite go exactly as planned, the result if Far Arden, an epic adventure story set in the Canadian Arctic.
Enter the hero, Army Shanks. Imagine Indiana Jones reincarnated as a renegade Arctic pirate who looks like John Lennon but dresses like the guys from Whale Wars. It is Shanks’ mission in life to discover the tropical utopia of Far Arden but before he gets there he must navigate through a delightful gang of eccentric characters that include a Russian businessman, a burly man in chains and a circus warden, a pair of nosey journalism students and a little Short Round who wears a fox pelt while searching for his father’s killer. Sound original? You bet!
The story is great fun and it moves rather quickly. Every time I finished a chapter, I promised to read just one more and ended up pressing on because the story was just so damn interesting. Shanks doesn’t put up with any BS and watching him fight, trick and luck his way through a series of amusing obstacles makes you root for him more and more.
The artwork is minimal yet striking which works to the story’s advantage. The action scenes are highlighted with hilarious and very straightforward sounds and special effects such as “KICK OPEN!” “DRAG OUTSIDE” and “MID-AIR GROIN GRINDER!” that make you chuckle and nod with appreciation.
Kevin Cannon has created and populated a world of his own. Cannon’s imagination transcends any Arctic legends of mystical lands and creates its own magic. Filled with humor, adventure, surprises and a villain that reminds you of Count Rugen, the mad scientist with the death machine from The Princess Bride, Far Arden has everything I love in a story.
You can read more about Far Arden here.
…Or check out a few pages here…(click the Next button at the bottom)
Reviewed by Mark McGinty, June 2009