The Beastiary

Feral: A Field Guide to the New World

Written by Mike Connell
Art by Kevin Manklow

Published by The Mad Quill 2023. Buy it HERE.

It starts with a 14 page comic.

The rest of the book is a compendium of monsters and fabled creatures/spirits of the Canadian North Woods starting from around 1670. I liked the story and the art, and I understand in its mere 14 pages there's only so much action that can take place.

The comic section is centered around Sir Clancy Foxbottom and his Indian guide 'Old Bill,' who go about collecting information about the above-stated supernatural creatures for a book called 'The Bestiary,' which by a clever device is the very book you the reader is holding in your hands. Story wise it's a little thin. Watching a guy writing down stuff in his journal doesn't hold high enough stakes for me to give attention to more than a few quick minutes.

There's a good balance between words and pictures, the two elements work together well enough. One could cite a semi-violent ending to the comic book phase that shows some action, but it's action that doesn't show clearly what stakes it changed. Sir Clancy -maybe- is dead yet his book continues on.

The 'field guide' part...

The bulk of this book -The Bestiary- is of some interest. Truth be told, there's over a hundred entries and I only read through the first five or six. It's all about monsters/ghosts/spirits who haunt the Canadian Northwest. A picture on the right, a description on the left. The pages are a faux antique parchment looking style and the writing -although mechanized- simulates a written hand from a quill pen. The artwork is in ink, simulating perhaps a lithograph or woodcut. Is this enough? Maybe, for people who like to spend time reading up on monster lore.

Foxbottom as Kolchack.

I could see this book as a stepping-off point for a later story-driven series. It would use the Bestiary book itself as a kind of character sheet. Maybe in the vein of the old Night Stalker series in the 1970s with Ace Reporter Carl Kolchak. By strange coincidence, he always ran into some strange monster-themed mystery in and around contemporary Los Angeles. Maybe if there were the same style of person who would stumble into these creatures in and around Canada circa 1670-1700 we could get a decent comic book story.

Next Tuesday:

another horror/supernatural thriller written by Beanie Aurora White

Tim Larsen

12 Woodwardia Ave

Felton CA 95018