REVIEW: Talgard Is A New Level Of Webcomic Storytelling

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Welcome to the world of Talgard

Talgard is an exciting and fascinating Barbarian webcomic that is as savage as it is heartbreaking. Talgard is written by Gary Proudley, coloured by Justin Randall and lettered/edited by Wolfgang Bylsma (Gestalt Publishing). Each chapter of Talgard consists of four pages, with an intentional rotation of artists handling each chapter’s pencils/inks.

The latest two tales (Talgard and the Face in the Wall/Talgard and the Mardok Sphere) featured artists Cody Anderson and Gary Chaloner. The synopsis, according to Proudley’s website, is enough to bring up to speed on the barbarian’s adventures to date:

In a world of swords and sorcery, Talgard is a barbarian whose brain is a greater weapon than his brawn, with wit as sharp as his blade.

Talgard is published directly on Gary Proudley’s website here. The printed works are available collected as TOME ONE. With a follow-up entitled TOME TWO to be released in April/May, according to Bylsma.

Talgard: Tome One (editors note: these two stories do not appear in Tome One)
Talgard: Tome One (editors note: these two stories do not appear in Tome One)

Talgard and the Face in the Wall Story

It’s always hard to break down short comic book stories. While they’re succinct and to the point, what they often lack is the ability to expand on the protagonists wants, needs and desires like in a full 22 page comic book issue or, god forbid, a novel (yuck!). There’s no such issues here.

The Face in the Wall Story features Talgard clearly suffering from post traumatic stress, when he’s taking a piss in a back alley, begins to see the vision of an old soldier he once served with. The webcomic quickly flashes back to Talgard meeting the soldier in question. Right before a salvo of arrows buckets down in their direction, although missing our hero – a stray arrow punctures straight through the soldier’s leg. Hitting an artery and ending the soldier’s life.

The last page of the short chapter shows a deeply traumatised Talgard bashing his head against a wall. Supposedly trying to stop seeing things. Specifically the apparition of the soldier’s ghost protruding out of the wall. The message that war effects everyone deeply. Even the most hardened of warriors.

Talgard and the Face in the Wall Art

Cody Anderson does an exceptional job in the detail and linework of Talgard and the battlefield of countless warriors in pages 2-3. Although, it’s the scene in pages 1 and 4 that shows our protagonist deeply troubled and distraught. A broken man, broken by the savagery of war and the cost to someone’s soul when fellow soldiers are lost in battle.

Add Justin Randall’s colouring to the mix and you have a winning combination. So much so, I’m reminded of 1980s era Conan the Barbarian. If that’s the look then I’m all for it. Let’s hope they rotate Cody Anderson around for another swing of the axe at Talgard.

Talgard and the Mardok Sphere Story

The Mardok Sphere is perfectly juxtaposed against The Face in the Wall storyline. Talgard awakens on an island which is alien to him. With an old man to accompany him who just so happens to be the only other inhabitant. Through deduction of reasoning the pair discover they were both victims of the magic of a powerful Wizard trapping them in this pocket dimension. This further leads to a reveal he was raised by a Wizard and knows how to deal with them.

The pair venture towards the only scene castle, with an inscription on a large door that a life has to be sacrificed so that one escape. With little to no remorse Talgard stabs the old man, killing him instantly. The unrequited arrogant logic of a strong barbarian on a mission. You’ll hate him here but love Proudley for adding more than two layers to his creation.

Talgard and the Mardok Sphere Art

I mentioned before the storyline completely juxtaposes against the earlier chapter. True enough, this would be an understatement in the case of Gary Chaloner’s art. As the illustration and line work is softer, almost to a dream-like state, adding a certain air of mystery and supernatural to the pocket dimension.

Giving rise to the emotion of shock and almost suspends your disbelief when Talgard murders the old man in cold life. A life for a life, as they say.

Talgard Conclusion

Gary Proudley does an exceptional job in scripting each panel. Though I find engaging short comic book stories infuriating, to say the least, Proudley articulates the movements of each character from panel to panel quite expertly. What captures my attention and keeps me engaged is Proudley’s ability to tackle complex issues under the constraints of 4 page chapters amongst Barbarian folklore and storytelling. Proudley knows his craft and has surrounded himself with consummate comic book professionals that have taken this webcomic to a new level of storytelling.

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