Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever
Written & Illustrated by Gustav Carlson
164 Pages, $24.99
When my friend Gustav Carlson and I were growing up on several different webcomic forums, he was the artsy type who would constantly be illustrating and posting his creations in his own art threads. Page after page of different drawings, sketches, and paintings could be viewed, and slowly over the years you would notice the change in his style and character designs. This guy lives to create, for you could definitely see his genius in its infant stages, slowly evolving over time.
Then comes along his baby, Backwood Folk, a new webcomic updating every Tuesday and Thursday, providing a plethora of new material for the internets to enjoy. The man had a plan, and was slowly building an audience who would appreciate his many talents. Things obviously have been working out well for Gus, for last December came the release of Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever, a nifty little trade paperback collecting 164 pages of material, all colored, and HTML-free.
While the main character, Benedict Carpenter, may somewhat slightly resemble Gustav when it comes to appearance, he assures you it isn’t the case, but a mere fluke. That may be enough for the rest of the audience to brush-off and move along, but not this reviewer. I propose it was all planned from the very start, that Gustav Carlson is the type of mad genius with an ego bigger than Kanye West’s to allow this sort of thing to happen by mere coincidence. It wasn’t enough for him to create this whimsical watercolored wonderland, but he had to star in it as well! The nerve of this rapscallion.
Moving on, the story follows Benedict as he escapes life in the big city to take care of some land that was left to him in his hometown of Po’Dunk, Arkansas. Upon arriving in his Prius, he’s reunited with childhood friends, and feels somewhat out of place in his once familiar surroundings. Things change, people change, but Greenville is forever. Some beings, once thought of as mere myths, slowly creep their way into Ben’s reality, making him realize that perhaps he has been away for too long. Impromptu concerts being erected on his property, offers for the purchase of his land, and near-death experiences start to become apart of his new life in the Ozarks, and the first volume leaves us questioning what will Ben decide to do in regards to these new challenges.
I’ve obviously conveyed my appreciation of Gustav’s art in the first paragraph, but I almost feel that words cannot do this first collection justice. His style is very reminiscent of Jeff Lemire, and the beautiful watercolors just explode off the pages and bathe the readers eyes in a concoction of liquid happiness and pure joy. The characters are spectacularly brought to life, and the Pink Eye monsters will make you want to keep a light on at night (just in case). The panel layouts also impressed me immensely, for Gus isn’t going with the traditional format throughout, but rather having fun creating his own borders when deemed appropriate. One of my favorite parts in the book is when a character is subjected to toxic chemicals, which causes his experience to transform into a psychedelic one, completely blowing your mind with the color schemes.
So if you’re looking for something new to enjoy (and support with your monies), I highly recommend you give Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever a try. You’ll become captivated by the art and story, and who knows; maybe it’ll convince you to move to Arkansas and herd goats for the rest of your life. Or just follow the webcomic every Tuesday and Thursday. Or perhaps both!