With their anthology series Papercuts and Inkstains going from strength to strength, Madius Comics has decided to add another single story adventure to their stable with Griff Gristle – an elderly sailor with a very supernatural occupation/hobby. However, will this be yet another success for the publisher or will this title sink to the bottom of the sea of small press comics?
Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer: Rob Jones, Mike Sambrook
Artist: Rory Donald, Chris Johnson, Brad Dolman
Price: Back it via Kickstarter
When boats begin to sink under mysterious circumstances in the bay of Charlesberg, our veteran hero and (as the name suggests) grizzled supernatural investigator, takes it upon himself to investigate. However, joined on board his beloved boat ‘Betty’ by the sister of one of the victims, Griff’s journey to the scene of the disturbances leads to several discoveries, one gruesome, one shocking and one which may connect to his past and that of his late wife.
What’s apparent about this title upon reading is that Griff Gristle is obviously a title heavily influenced by the Mike Mignola-verse by Dark Horse. This is most apparent in both the art, which has very ‘B.P.R.D. mixed with Lobster Johnson’ pencils and colours, as well as the writing of the main character, who comes across as a very similar personality to Hellboy.
Of course, that is where the comparison ends as this first issue exhibits enough unique personality of its own. Artist Rory Donald produces panels filled with rough art and cool colours which give an accurate feel of the very horror-esque story and the cold, damp location, with the comic reading like a British horror show set on a Scottish island. Of course, the art team seem to be given carte blanche in this book which they utilize to full effect with some breathtakingly good panels, such as the introduction of the underground church or, in a trippy tonal shift, the full page splash of the Betty facing a horde of ghouls. The art is truly a lovely sight to behold here.
Of course, the art isn’t the only reason to buy any comic and the writing is also a pretty solid outing for Madius Comics’ resident scribes. The main draw here is the relationship built between lead characters Griff and Justine who, despite feeling a little inflammatory towards each other at times, reads as a fitting pairing, acting like two sides of the same coin but working well together to solve their current problem. Besides that, the story suffers a little from a slow start within the first half of the book before picking up steam.
While it isn’t a perfect first issue, Griff Gristle is a really fun read, especially as the story progresses and you become more invested. A great visual style and a compelling lead character, coupled with hints of deeper, more intriguing stories to come that are hinted at in the epilogie, makes this opening issue well worth a read.