Fate isn’t kind to Giles Gridley.
Exiled from his insular clan after contracting vampirism, Giles is forced to make do elsewhere. Follow Giles as he navigates the warm sands of Talvit City while dodging the icy stares of those who don’t take too well to outsiders. Will he find a place that values his secrets?
Vampires, Haunted Dice, & a Bar Brawl
As far as ectomantic wizards go, Gridley isn’t what one might expect. Oh sure, his intentions are good & he’s got skills, but he tends to give the impression of someone working just a little too hard to get through the day. This is where we find him, in mid-crisis as he’s been banished & needs to find a new place to call home.
Welcome to Talvit City, a wretched hive of scum, villainy, & a local wizarding guild.
Front & center in my praise for Sid Quade’s work is a cartoony art style that may serve to mask some of its darker themes. With his anthropomorphized cast of whacky looking characters, Quade could have settled down to concoct a children’s book instead of choosing to delve into a fantasy-heavy weird west setting. But a weird western he has made, & I can’t say that I’m disappointed. That’s not a genre that gets as much love as it deserves, and Quade gets points for tackling it. The world of Gridley looks to be rich and deep, and its fantastic design begs to be explored.
Where Quade might add a coat or two of polish would be the dialogue. While there are great moments of humor, highlighted in Giles Gridley’s “voice” (which is just about perfect in his snide backtalk), it’s the back-and-forth moments between characters that occasionally snag. In Quade’s defense, natural sounding dialogue can be the most difficult part of writing. There’s a balance between giving enough information without going too far into heavy-handed exposition.
It wouldn’t take very large step for Quade to let his characters’ quality show in their actions, to be reflected in his illustrations while relying less on dialogue to sum up events. With as bizarre a cast of characters as you’re going to find anywhere, where the humans are shades creepier than the antelope-hyena people, Gridley is visually outstanding. On a second read-through, I started picking up on the smaller gems that Sid has laid out… cues that may or may not be connected but at the very least get the eyes searching and the imagination wondering. Themes of color connecting dots, real or imagined, gave me something else to latch onto and built anticipation for the next issue.
Gridley: The Exile is a fantastic dive into a fantasy world that’s a step to the left of the norm. Even calling it a Weird Western is taking away some of the whimsey this story’s being built on. Readers looking for something new, different, and fun to look at might want to give it a try. It’s as distinctive a comic as anything you’re going to find anywhere else.
Final Score: 10/13