Alright, I’ll be honest – I can’t come up with a clever way to intro into the title. With that said, this week’s comic is…
Deep in the urban heart of Centro, the reigning heavyweight champion tended to his prized garden sanctuary. He enjoyed his solitary paradise in peace, until a simple act of kindness grows into the biggest challenge he has ever faced.
Luckily for the Kilo Monster, this time he will not be fighting alone.
Disclaimer – “For viewers 13+, for strong language and mild violence/gore and horror elements.”
The paltry blurbs I write are not nearly as charming as the comic’s Character section, but briefly we have –
Kilo, the titular monster gardener. He’s incredibly big and has quite a temper, but this heavy-weight champ has an equally large heart. Down to earth and street-tough, he finds himself reluctantly making friends after he saves a small robot from thugs.
NIKA, the adorable little robot in question. She’s not actually a robot, but an ATLAS (Arcane Technology Lifeform Automated System), a member of a colony of sentient mechanical beings. She’s searching for someone, but until she finds them she’s adopted the Andrews as a surrogate family. Long-lived, well spoken, and a total comic book girl, her child-like demeanor helps mellow out Kilo’s gruff rage.
Jaymi, an engineer and member of Nika’s human family. She’s by far the most sarcastic of the cast, but also incredibly caring in her way. She’s crass, blunt, and just a wee bit foolhardy, but she looks out for Nika and for her brother and calls people out when she thinks they’re being dumb.
Todd, Jaymi’s brother and a member of the city’s Peacekeeper Corps. Unlike his sister, he’s soft-spoken and timorous and his nerves are easily rattled, but he does not shirk the responsibilities he feels towards people. It seems much of his skittishness may be the result of having survived one of the most horrific wars in their society’s recent history.
Doctor Nigellus Mayers, a colleague of Jaymi and Todd’s father. He’s articulate, musical, and highly intelligent, but is haunted by the loss of his family during the Fall of Rokk’che, which Todd was a part of. He takes medications to combat the effects of his trauma, but they seem to help very little. Because of their involvement in Rokk’che, Mayers has a distrust for all Peace Keepers (Todd included), though he seems to have a good work relationship with Jaymi.
It’s surprising the number of comic about “monsters” that feature fantastic, stylish art and memorable, lovable character designs – Kilo looks striking, imposing, but not unfriendly and NIKA has an iconic, almost retro design. Jaymi and Todd also display their personalities very well through their expressions and postures. Action scenes are drawn well, but personally, I like the scenes where Kilo and NIKA interact, or where Jaymi and Todd argue. That’s where the heart of the story is, although the action bits do a nice job of getting it pumping.
The art style changes slightly between chapters, but I enjoy each one for it. The flat shading in the first chapter gives it a simpler, cleaner look, while the dot screen tone in chapter 2 definitely makes it look more like a manga, and chapter 3 gets very lively with the addition of color. The lush greens, warm oranges, and neutral grays certainly add a bit of visual depth and allow for more texture and dimension in the image.
On a technical note, the character writing is excellent. Each character’s speech has personality in it – Kilo’s is rustic, NIKA’s is articulate and appropriately robotic, Jaymi vocabulary is crude, Todd has a slight tendency to stutter, and Doctor Mayers often waxes verbose, but each one has such a distinct speech pattern that, if the reader were only given a snip of dialogue, they could probably figure out who was speaking.
I was impressed by the idea that, in this setting full of animal people, elves, robots, and humans, there are still social “monsters” like Kilo. That someone can still be shunned or prejudged in such a varied society is at once saddening and reassuring to me – it’s a reminder that, no matter their appearance, people are still people. For all our virtues, our flaws remain…. or perhaps it’s the other way around. A quiet individual can share surprising eloquence and hated enemies can hide matching scars. Kilo is a prime example of these oh-so-human contradictions, fighting to live but avoiding violence when he can, seen as ugly yet able to make something extremely beautiful. This subtle yet ever present theme is just one of the things that I find so compelling about this story, even though it’s scarcely past a hundred pages. In time, I think this could grow to be one of the more well-known comics out there.
- Delightful art with impressive, stylish character designs
- Great dialogue writing that gives each character a voice
- Subtle but powerful themes concerning preconceptions, the struggles of others, and helping those who need it.
All in all, Monster’s Garden is a beautiful comic that takes a well-known moral about books and covers and makes it new again. It reminds us that, as weird or terrifying as some people might appear, sometimes the best way to grow is to go out there and meet them.
Monster’s Garden is written and drawn by Ash G. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her. Though the exact day varies, the comic is currently scheduled to update “Mondays”.
Sorry for the late post… again.