The City Troll
180 pages, $15.00
So it’s no secret that I enjoy backing projects on Kickstarter, especially if the project is something comic book oriented. Sure, not every project I’ve backed was successful, but when it comes to the ones that do achieve victory at the end of the day, I personally feel proud that I not only helped back that person’s project, but I helped make their dreams come true as well.
Back in January I had some cash to spend, so I searched for comic book projects and browsed the results for a good twenty minutes. I don’t tend to search for single issues, but rather graphic novels and other thicker collections. One project in particular caught my eye from its colorful cover and intriguing character design, and that’s how I came to fund The City Troll by Aaron Whitaker. A few months later after it was successfully funded, the graphic novel and several other goodies arrived at my doorstep, and reading the final product made me so grateful that I took a chance and judged the book by its cover alone.
The story follows Paul, a young man in his mid-twenties who isn’t all that confident about himself, especially when it comes to looks, talking to girls, and comparing himself to his best friend Ian. You see, Ian is well-liked by everyone, ridiculously good-looking, and has no problem talking to women, let alone sweeping them off their feet. In Paul’s mind, he’s the being known as The City Troll, who was created by God as a punishment to The Perfect Man (Ian), and both beings were destined to be paired with one another for all eternity, just so The Perfect Man would have a difficult time attracting women so easily.
Of course, The City Troll is the alter-ego Paul has created for himself, and his troll avatar is easily recognizable by the audience whenever Paul is feeling down or pathetic throughout the story. He’s about to turn twenty-six, and yet he still finds himself stuck in the same old rut, not getting any younger, and still single. It’s a feeling most of us can relate to, but keep in mind this graphic novel is not an autobiography of any sort.
Paul has always felt the need to keep potential girlfriends away from Ian, because in the past the women become so smitten with Ian they just can’t control themselves around him, and another one bites the dust for poor Paul. When the mysterious Emily enters into their lives, a love-triangle starts to form, but this time Paul doesn’t feel like backing down. Emily makes him feel good about himself, and slowly he starts to emerge out of his City Troll shell, and starts enjoying life for a change. Of course, not everything lasts forever, and friendships are tested and hearts are broken by the end of the story.
When trying to describe Whitaker’s art style, it reminds me of a mixture of Jeffrey Brown and Kolbeinn Karlsson, with a little Bryan Lee O’Malley thrown in for good measure. The City Troll character is a beautifully rendered and jagged being, and I especially loved every time Paul would switch back and forth between himself and the Troll, flawlessly bringing the scene together every time.
This is Whitaker’s first graphic novel, and it definitely left me feeling astonished and impressed by the hard work he put into it. This came together over the years in his spare time, so with the final product being collected and finally released onto the masses, you can definitely see the passion and elbow grease he’s put into every page.
Along with the graphic novel, I also received some floppies of his earlier work, a colored print (which currently hangs in my room, awaiting a proper frame), and a sketch card featuring myself as a troll. I requested myself with a microphone and headphones, and he definitely delivered!
So if you’re looking for something on the other side of the superhero spectrum and enjoy independent works and slice-of-life stories, I highly recommend you check out The City Troll by Aaron Whitaker. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, but whatever it is, I’ll definitely back it if it’s on Kickstarter.