From the mind of Eisner-winning co-creator and artist of Image Comics’ Chew, Rob Guillory, comes his new creator owned series, Farmhand. It sees Zeke Jenkins move his family back to his hometown. Back home, his dad Jedidiah Jenkins runs the Jenkins farm, but unlike most family farms, Jedidiah grows limbs. Anyone in need of a transplant can come to the Jenkins farm. Zeke is unsure of his father for some reason, but as the issue goes on readers will learn there’s something dark growing in the family farm.
It’s a real treat to read something so original by a single creator. Rob Guillory has done something special with this issue. As both writer and artist he’s crafted a well paced issue that plants its seeds evenly throughout to keep readers interested as well as spooked and amused.
Zeke is an everyman — most readers will be able to relate to him. He wants whats best for his family. His father on the other hand, is one of the creepier characters. Readers aren’t given much on him this issue. This serves to build the tension since what they do get to know is thoroughly unsettling. Some of the best parts of the issue comes from Jedidiah’s fatherly conversations with Zeke, being followed immediately by Jedidiah doing something incredibly evil in private.
Farmhand blends its tones together quite well. While one page may be more horror-like, another may be more comedic. There’s some thriller too and everything feels very natural together. Guillory says that it has taken him 18 months to create the book, and with such attention to detail readers can see the hard work pay off.
As readers of Chew will know, Guillory’s art style is distinct in today’s field. What’s great about his style is that it lends itself more to comedy since it’s so cartoonish. But this only serves to make the horror aspects all the more unsettling, as the pleasant cartoon turns creepily scary. What little action there is also emphasizes his style, with limbs contorting in unnatural ways.
There isn’t a lot to criticize here. As far as structure goes the issue features a couple double page spreads in a row, and while both work well independently, having them directly next to each other just makes the issue appear shorter.
Beyond that, there really aren’t many flaws. One could argue that the children’s dialogue sounds like an adult writing what he thinks children sound like. On top of this, one drawback of Guillory’s style means that all adults are the same height and all children are the same height. So it can be hard to judge the age of a child until it’s explicitly said, by which point the age is either significantly higher or lower than readers will have estimated.
For readers of comics this is something that can’t be recommended enough. It delivers on all fronts and is guaranteed to grab attention. A brilliant first issue, Farmhand #1 is something for those who want more than the usual comic book caper. An original idea presented for mature readers.