Farmhand is a new comic book series from cartoonist and comic book artist, Rob Guillory. Guillory is the artist and co-creator with writer John Layman of the hit Image Comics title, Chew. Guillory is a Eisner Award and Harvey Award recipient for his work on Chew.
Guillory previewed Farmhand #1 two months ago in the Farmhand #1 Ashcan a small, full-color mini-comic book. Farmhand is written and illustrated by Guillory; colored by Taylor Wells; and lettered by Kody Chamberlain (who also designed the Farmhand logo).
Farmhand #1 introduces Ezekiel “Zeke” Jenkins. He grew up on his father, Jedidiah “Jed” Elias Jenkins' farm. Zeke, his wife (Mae), and their children (Abigail and Riley) are embarking on a tour of Jed's farm, which has a new cash crop.
The “Jenkins Family Farm” is now the “Jenkins Family Farmaceutical Institute.” On the farm, scientist use radical new stem cell research to grow human organs, limbs, and tissue through a combination of plant DNA. For all that is new in this scientific wonderland, however, something has taken root, and the dark secrets will bloom again.
THE LOWDOWN: In my review of Farmhand #1 Ashcan, I wrote that the story bore a resemblance to the macabre side of Americana captured by writer Ray Bradbury and television writer-producer, Rod Serling (“The Twilight Zone”). I believe that Farmhand is an “American Gothic,” and Guillory is like Stephen King, peeling back the folksy charm of agrarian America and revealing its anthropological roots buried in a rich black soil of dark myths and elder things.
Guillory recently told me that the work of Alfred Hitchcock also influenced the creation of Farmhand. There is a suspenseful, disquieting quality to the narrative that recalls some of Hitchcock's most (in)famous films, such as Rebecca (1940), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963). Unlike the “escape-from-dystopia” films of the 1960s and 1970s (think Logan's Run), Farmhand is “let's-go-visit-dystopia,” and in some of Hitchcock's films, the lead character blithely enters a bucolic, pastoral trap (The Birds). And Farmhand #1 ends on a decidedly menacing note.
The full Farmhand #1 allows the reader to see the full range of Taylor Wells' gorgeous colors, which so perfectly capture the atmosphere that it is appropriate to call her a “co-storyteller.” Kody Chamberlain's lettering conveys the shifts in the story from domestic semi-tranquility to strange science to conspiracy and horror.
I hope Farmhand #1 is not a fluke. There is tremendous potential upon which Rob Guillory must deliver in future issues.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of the macabre, the suspenseful, and the creepy in science fiction and horror will want Farmhand.