We’re Just Branches On A Tree Of Woe – Rob Guillory’s Farmhand Debuts

by Brendan M. Allen

Jedidiah Jenkins is a farmer, but his cash crop isn’t corn or soy. Jed grows fast-healing, plug-and-play human organs. Lose a finger? Need a new liver? He’s got you covered. Unfortunately, strange produce isn’t the only thing Jed’s got buried. Deep in the soil of the Jenkins Family Farm, something dark has taken root, and it’s beginning to bloom. From Rob Guillory, Eisner-winning co-creator and artist of Image Comics’ Chew, comes a new dark comedy about science gone sinister and agriculture gone apocalyptic. Nature is a Mother.

Series writer and artist Rob Guillory opens up Farmhand #1 with a Freudian nightmare sequence that pretty well sums up the concept for the whole series. Ezekiel is forced to move back to his childhood home to keep his young family afloat. On the night before he’s supposed to reunite with his estranged father Jedidiah, he has a vivid dream about his pop, the gruesome family business, leaving the farm, and the implications of returning.

The body horror elements and hints at the supernatural shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s read Chew (or the publisher’s summary above). What did come as a bit of a shock were the realistic depictions of family dynamics. Ezekiel’s kids are adorable. His wife is supportive, even though he’s pulled the whole family out of their comfort zone. The rift between Jenkins senior and junior is painfully awkward. Oh, and that dynamic with the oblivious sister trying to patch things up? Brilliant.

Rob Guillory’s signature artistic flair is on display from cover to cover. The characters are unique and expressive, almost caricatured. It’s an odd balance that works really well for the dark comedy as well as the horror elements. It’s realistic enough to invest in, but not so lifelike to turn your stomach when the claret starts to flow.

Farmhand offers up a fantastic high concept science fiction/horror story. Think The Clonus Horror, except all gangster, and if it were written by Stephen King and illustrated by Eric Powell. (Buy this book.)

Farmhand #1, published by Image Comics, released 11 July 2018. Created, written, and drawn by Rob Guillory, color by Taylor Wells, lettering and logo by Kody Chamberlain.

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