By Zack Quaintance — Gogor #1 is my first exposure to comics auteur Ken Garing, known primarily for his book, Planetoid, a 2012 series about a space pirate stranded on a titular planetoid. That series to date has been comprised of an initial five-issue miniseries, as well as a follow up entitled Planetoid: Praxis that ran for another six. I Googled all of that, which is to say, yet again, this is my first exposure to the work of Ken Garing.
So, let’s talk about the first page: I was right away into this. Our hero is running away from some soldier guys. We know he’s our hero because he is special and wearing red, riding a hamster or a gerbil or some other sort of rodential mount. The soldier guys are dressed in a drabber navy, looking identical and riding ants. The artwork is clean and kinetic, bright. We get a sense of what’s happening—a chase—and we get our attention drawn to the next obstacle in our hero’s path...he missed the bridge and has no place to go!
I love this sort of simple and urgent graphic sequential storytelling, the type that’s accessible in a way that sort of grabs you by the arm and rips you right into a story. That’s what we get from the start of Gogor. Garing’s style is also fashioned after the imaginative simplists that have been so crucial in the history of the medium, specifically Jack Kirby. This style is able to make simple tasks compelling, tasks like washing a face and fishing, in between the chases and war flashbacks and absolutely incredible establishing shots of this rich fantasy world.
I think far too many comics these days start en media res at the price of chronological clarity. Writers commit to giving us an exciting opening scene, before they’ve done the diligent work of giving us reasons to care about our protagonists. Gogor, however, makes this work. The bright colors of our hero’s garb versus the monochromatic uniforms of his stormtrooper pursuers does that narrative work, and the action sequence is fantastical enough to string us along until the campfire conversation later can let us know why we should really care. The plotting, in other words, is as spare and efficient as the artwork.
Thematically, Gogor is about environmental sustainability, power, and the idealism of youth. All of that is rich ground to farm for a 2019 story, and Garing does it well here. Plus, that last page! So yes, I’d never seen Garing’s before this comic, but now I can’t wait to see more of it.
Overall: A strong and accessible debut, crafted by an expert comics auteur in Ken Garing. This is a fantasy comic with a clean, simple, and kinetic style that just might remind you of Jack Kirby. 9.0/10
Created-Written-Drawn-Colored-Lettered By: Ken Garing
Publisher: Image Comics
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.