If you like whimsical fantasy comics like Groo or Bone, you’ll love Farlaine the Goblin, by cartoonist Pug Grumble. If you’re a fan of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Planescape you’ll love Farlaine the Goblin. Or if you’re a fan of humor. Or tight storytelling. Or cartoony artwork that matches the mood of the story perfectly.
There’s that much to love about Farlaine the Goblin, five volumes of which are now in print. Farlaine is a tree goblin – a creature with power over plants – in search of a forest wherein he can settle down and become its protector for the rest of his life. Joining him on his journey is a shrub, Ehrenwort, which he carries in a backpack, and which he constantly talks to – giving the reader needed exposition without captions or thought bubbles – but which cannot talk back (at least not in a language we understand); and Drowsy, a tink (an artificial life form designed for gathering things) who sleeps whenever it’s dark. The lands he travels through are each unique and follow their own rules of physics (and metaphysics). Each volume takes him through a different one, and of the hundreds of lands in his world, we are told how many he has left each time he visits a new one. This story clearly is going to have an end, and that’s always a good sign. It’s very tightly written and planned, with elements introduced early in the series paying off a volume or two down the line, making the story hang together quite well without making it necessary to read previous volumes to understand the current one.
The most recent (Volume 5), Farlaine in the Vaultlands, is if anything even more novel than the rest. Farlaine visits a land made up entirely of vaults, each with a unique key (oftentimes metaphysical in nature) and unique contents. The land follows its own physics, with no one needing to eat or sleep, and there is no aging. The possibilities in this are quite endless and just getting to see Farlaine and company explore this land brings one back to one’s childhood, when you believed that just about anything was possible and every object, place, and toy, no matter how mundane, seemed new, magical, and full of possibility. It makes me really want to see what’s next for Farlaine in Volume 6, Farlaine in the Winglands.
If you have any part of you that hasn’t grown up yet, I recommend Farlaine the Goblin.