"It comes from the Black Isles at the behest of the Blue Men of Minch for the blood of Arthur" - Hagatha
In Scotland 1907 famed adventurer Sebastian Hawks and his trusty French companion are hunting one of the greatest monsters of all time, the Loch Ness Monster! The locals might scuff at the existence of Nessie but Sebastian has enlisted the aid of the witch Hagatha to raise the beast, which actually doesn't work out that well as the old bat disappears into the murky depths of the Loch amid slaughtered sheep and dire warnings against the English. Seems they don't make backwater witches like they used to.
Undeterred by the set back Sebastian heads out onto the Loch aboard a small ship, along with sheep, a harpoon gun with an exploding head, and a diving suit. Things don't turn out quite how Sebastian plans as Nessie proves to be a formidable foe, but at least there's a pint of Guinness at the end of the day.
Tristan Jones, taking time out of his busy schedule of working on some serious Yank comics, here attacks a sort of boy's own adventure yarn, mixing in action, humour, and Nessie. While Loch Ness Monster is a rollicking good read in and of itself I get the feeling it's operating more as an advance sampler for the promised full length graphic novel Sebastian Hawks - Creature Hunter and the Mountain of the White Death, I'm assuming here that Gestalt will also publish that book as well. Now the cool thing about samplers is you get to have a taste of a comic before having to invest in a graphic novel, it gives you the chance to see if you are going to be in for a good time or are going to add yet another book to the "might read one day when hell freezes over" pile. I'm happy to report folks that based on Loch Ness Monster we are going to be in for a romping good time with Mountain of the White Death, lets crack on with the review.
Loch Ness Monster follows a recent trend in Australia of going retro with the look and feel of comic releases, for other examples see The Dark Detective, Eeek!, and various works from SCAR. I'm actually quite digging the whole retro thing, Jones' tale fits snugly into the arena and Christian DiBari's artwork adds that authentic feel to things. You could readily believe this comic arrived kicking and screaming from the hot presses of 1960s London, as opposed to the fevered brow of wild colonial boys. So no you aren't getting a post modernist Meta themed, add your own bollock here, comic to devour, you're actually getting a real one that works as a good read.
While Tristan Jones' script remains strong and period correct the reader is left with the feeling that maybe a page or two had missed being included in the comic. For example we bounce from Hagatha to the next day in pretty rapid fashion with no attempt to explain how the ship Sebastian and Benny are boarding came to be there. Slight criticism and to be fair if this comic is meant as a sampler then an unfair criticism as there are only so many panels available, who wants to bugger around with nibbles when there's a honking big porterhouse to knock over after all. Where Jones' script hits the mark is the careful blending of humour, period speech patterns, and a gung ho approach from Sebastian that would have received the seal of approval from either Biggles or the Duke de Richleau. You can readily see why Jones is a go too writer for some large graphic novel publishing houses.
For those wondering yes Loch Ness Monster is a complete story, you can safely devour this one without any irritating delays in a concluding release, and no Nessie isn't reduced to a little girl's plaything as some House of Mouse productions would have it. The monster is pretty nasty to be honest in Jones' new comic and there is a hint that maybe sometime down the track Sebastian will attempt a second attack on the wee beastie.
Christian DiBari supplied the artwork and I got to say I was seriously impressed with his panels. DiBari keeps with Jones' retro feel turning in a sort of pastel look that evokes the period the comic is set in. We're talking by and largely dark rich colours with a light faded feeling to the panels. Visually the comic is working like a brought one, two thumbs up for Christian DiBari, would like to check out some more of his work, fingers crossed he's agreed to supply the panels for the graphic novel.
I received my copy of Loch Ness Monster as a digital download so have no idea of the quality etc of the printed versions of the comic. I would tend to put the reputation of this site on a highly professional publication however, when have Gestalt ever released anything less.
A couple of things to clear before concluding. Loch Ness Monster is indeed a sampler, thank you bloody-disgusting.com, so draw a line through any undue critcism of Tristan Jones' script, the wordage does exactly what it should do in a sampler, make us want to read the forthcoming graphic novel. Greg McLean, yes that McLean, had the original idea but of course has been caught up with Mick Taylor. Continue with the review folks, normal service is now resuming.
I've kind of had a hankering to check out Tristan Jones' work but my local comic emporium, no names mentioned to avoid embarrassment, can't find its own arse with both hands to be honest. I wanted to have a look at Jones' Ghostbusters work, who would have thunked there would be multiple releases and Sales clerks didn't know which was which. So I was more than happy to receive a copy of Sebastian Hawks - Creature Hunter and the Loch Ness Monster and tore into it like a Fracker finding some virgin unspoiled countryside to drill into. Excellent piece of work, has wet my appetite, and I will now be asking Mr Jones daily when the graphic novel is coming out, till he gets a restraining order at least. Full recommendation Kids, this is one comic you are going to want on your reading list sooner rather than later.
Okay if after a copy, and it appears to be digital download solely, then set your browser to Gestalt Comics where you can pick one up for the easy price of $2.95 AUD.
[Editor's Note: Once again a quick word folks, any artwork appearing in this review is the intellectual property of the creators and not ScaryMinds, we're not intellectual to begin with. If you want to use the artwork then don't simply take a copy go ask the creators! All artwork is reproduced here in standared review style, nothing less, nothing more.]