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Elk’s Run

The latest comic book/graphic novel I perused from the shelves of my local library branch – “Elk’s Run” is penned by Joshua Hale Fialkov, with art by Noel Tuazon and colors by Scott A. Keating.

The tale follows a group of Vietnam Vets who build their own safe haven from the rest of the world and deal with their war-fractured psyches in the lovely and sparse town of Elk’s Ridge, West Virginia. Lucky for us, this isn’t a true story.

After a few decades duking it out with the wilderness and maintaining their own society with it’s own set of rules…things get decidedly ugly.

The next generation (the Vet’s kids) are not so interested in the separatist lifestyle, especially since there is not an equal number of girls and boys, not even enough to start up a baseball league (cause we all know what America is REALLY about – chicks and balls).

But seriously – the town residents get a little oogy after one of them accidentally kills a child, and become judge, jury and executioner with a rather gruesome public death of the said culprit.

Now the scraggily group of teenagers want to leave more than ever, but the parents are DEAD serious on keeping them right where they are. Looks like the refuge turned prison might end up becoming a tomb.

Despite the humor injected synopsis – this is quite a serious tale with some heavy themes centering on one of those beloved icons of the hero-world, vigilantes. It’s a different take on the masked superhero darting through the City taking down criminals…but it’s definitely dealing with a society that follows it’s own laws.

Our “hero” John Junior – must take the lead and decide whether or not to follow in his father’s decidedly weird and intense foot-steps, or strike out on his own and enter “the real world” from which they’ve been entirely shut off.

It’s an intriguing plot, and rife with plenty of opportunity for political commentary, but I noticed that taking a back burner to the Son vs Father theme that was center stage. John Junior must battle his father’s demons before he can truly become a man. It’s a twisted version of a coming of age story.

In other instances – I found I was really confused about the motivation of the Vietnam Vets, and what constituted the rules of their society. Perhaps that wasn’t the point of the book – but I wasn’t entirely convinced that all the Vets would be so willing to kill for their society.

Even the brief glimpse of them in Vietnam wasn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity.

The art of the book was a nice change of pace from the black and white cleanly defined work I’ve been perusing lately. While it was rough and a bit “sketchy”, I think it coupled nicely with the hard scrabble life these folks were ultimately leading. Even if the faces weren’t as clearly defined as they are in most top-shelf comics, the emotions were still clearly articulated.

The coloring was especially rich – but I’m not sure if the tones always worked. At times, I felt like there was too much coloring – that it was piled on too thickly in some panels. And, as with the panel above, there didn’t seem to be enough contrast between the background and foreground tones.

That may sound nit-picky, but it was a bit distracting. I almost felt like maybe the background didn’t even really need to be colored…unless it was going to be detailed, or was ultra important to the scene.

Like here – the background clashes with their skin-tones…and what is the background anyway? Boxes and the wall? Does it need to be so richly painted when it’s totally un-neccesary to the scene?

Otherwise – I enjoyed the book. I probably would have gotten more out of it had I absorbed it all in one sitting. Not that it didn’t hold my interest, but I had a fairly busy week…so I read about 10 pages at a time. I think this story deserves a nice clean read-through in one sitting.

It’s a very cinematic tale, and I think – hand tailored to be filmed…more so even than “Whiteout.” The plot is fairly clean and nicely layered. But, I think I was hoping for more political commentary (or moral commentary) than just a straight across action-y story.

I would recommend it – with limited expectations in mind.

Much Love, Mindy C

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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

4 responses to “Elk’s Run”

  1. Michael says :

    Nice review, I hadn’t even heard of this book, so thanks for informing me. 🙂

    2 things, one question and one comment:

    Question: Do you scan all these pics that you put up here when they’re comic book-related? The non comic ones I could see you grabbing off Google, but these seem pretty specific. If you do, does that take a lot of time? It’s really cool, I enjoy how your entries always have pictures.

    Comment: I agree with what you’re saying about the tones in the above examples, but as someone who’s read indie comics where they were just like, “Well, fuck it, let’s just not do the backgrounds.” it’s really distracting to have blank spaces where you KNOW something should be. I agree they could have done better with the colors, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

    Thanks for the always-interesting read. 🙂

  2. tinyheroes says :

    No problem on the “informing” tip – I’m glad someone is getting good use out of this blog! 🙂

    Answer: Actually, when I do image searches, I inevitably come up with these already scanned images from the book. I don’t know how legal it is for any of that…but I’m going to steal them from other sites until I actually need to do some scanning.

    I have a scanner at home (which works rather shoddily), and if need be, I would scan certain panels…but I’ve just been pretty lucky so far!

    Comment: I do agree about having some background versus none…and believe me, it was nice to see color! I’ve been pretty colorless with my books for the past few weeks, and after awhile you forget what well done color even looks like.

    I might not have been as clear as I wanted to be in explaining how similar in shade the background and foreground were. I guess I’m more of a contrast-er…and prefer to have color that really articulates the separation.

    But yes – better than nothing for suresy.

    BTW – thanks for reading!! Your blog is very addicting as well. 😉

    Much Love, Mindy C

  3. Scott Keating says :

    Hey, glad you liked the book.It was a great project for Josh and Noel. Every positive comment is greatly appreciated. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy my coloring, hopefully you’ll find my next project more to your tastes.

    Thanks again!

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