Green Monk

By Brandon Dayton
132 pages, black and white

I wish I could remember where I picked up a copy of Green Monk. My best guess is at the Small Press Expo, but your guess is honestly as good as mine. The reason why I say I wish I could remember, is because I also have no recollection of how it ended up trapped between my couch and the wall it’s next to for at least a year or so. (Oops.) The sad thing is that I wish I’d found it earlier so I could have already spread the word about how much I love Brandon Dayton’s art.

This 132-page mini-comic, like so many these days, stretches the boundaries of the mini-comic label. It’s professionally printed, squarebound, and there’s something about the cover stock that makes you want to run your fingers over it repeatedly. Let’s face it, for a self-published book it looks better than many of the efforts by publishers with the money and staff to know better. Dayton’s Green Monk fortunately is just as slick when it comes to its interiors as with its production values, looking smart from start to finish.

The plot of Green Monk appears to be taken from an eastern European myth involving a monk named Alexey armed with a blade of grass that can slice through objects far stronger than it; modern comic readers will almost certainly find a similarity to Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in the way that Dayton presents such pieces of lore in such a matter-of-fact manner, with an easy and relaxed storytelling style. As Alexey travels the countryside, he tangles with a massive giant named Oxbreaker, through a combination of trickery and brute strength. I like how Dayton follows that classic fairy tale structure, with Alexey first posing a challenge to Oxbreaker before resorting to outright battle. While the story itself is slim (each page only contains a single panel), it’s a satisfying little story, one that makes you hope to see future stories of Alexey and his powerful Greenblade.

While I like Dayton’s writing, it’s his art that jumps out at me more. Dayton draws his characters in a loose, flowing style; from locks of hair blowing in the air, to the way that clothing hangs off of people’s arms and torsos, everyone moves across the page in a fashion that feels real and shows careful attention to detail. And when Alexey and Oxbreaker fight, there’s a lot of energy in their movement. Considering how each page is just a single panel, it could have been difficult to get a flow from one image to the next, but it still works here. And from worry to fear to triumph, the expressions on the characters’ faces ultimately sell each scene.

Green Monk is a fun little comic, one that from start to finish shows off a great deal of energy and talent. Dayton’s website mentions that he’s a concept artist for EA, but hopefully he still has more comics up his sleeves. This is a promising debut, and I’d love to see what he can do next. In the meantime, copies of Green Monk are available from Dayton’s website.

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