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Herd 1 Main

"Herd #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Floating Rock Comics

article-cover

Written by Geoff Richards
Illustrated by Peter Habjan
Colored by John Charles
Lettered by Rob Jones
2020, 28 Pages

Review:

Where did the first vampires come from? Sure, there’s the tale of Dracula in Transylvania, but what if it was a little less gothic and a little more evolutionary? That’s the basic premise behind Herd, taking an anthropological look at the early days of vampirism. Humanity is still in its infancy and tribes are roaming the countryside, hunting and gathering what they need to survive. The same can be said for the vampires, except they have very different prey.

What first struck me about Herd is how simple and quaint this setting looks. This is before towering castles or big coffins. There are no alleys to hide in or big cities to brood in. This is the wide-open wilderness. Vampires are very real and part of the food chain. They’re at the very top, but if they’re not careful, they’ll fall down a few pegs.

Writer Geoff Richards takes this idea and runs with it, showing how these two rival factions are struggling to survive. They share similar problems, but one is literally eating the other. When you’re as powerful as a vampire, there’s next to nothing that can kill you…except maybe starvation. We see the effects of this first hand in Herd #1 and it’s chilling. It’s not quite enough to make you feel bad for the vampires, but it’s close.

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At the center of this comic is Purtian, a vampire warrior scholar of sorts. To compare this to another comic, he’s like Jor-El in Superman with his warnings of his tribe’s imminent demise falling on deaf ears. He doesn’t have to send a baby into space in a rocket ship though. He just needs to find a way to thin out his herd a bit. We’re still years away from John Charles Darwin, but it’s clear that Purtian believes in survival of the fittest.

There’s a Native American vibe to the tribes, although a rather sinister take. Shala, the tribe autarch, carries a staff adorned with skulls. We get the sense that this is a simple land with simple needs, however they involve the outright murder of other people. Artist Peter Habjan uses subtle touches here, such as Shala’s pupilless eyes, which add to the supernatural quality of Herd.

Colorist John Charles amplifies this further with some subtle shades to differentiate the vampires from the humans. The eyes are a key feature, shining with a sickly yellow. Another contrast comes in the colors used for each tribe. The vampires live with browns and greys, like the life has been sucked out of them (no pun intended). Meanwhile, the humans have a lot of greens and yellows, as if the forest is giving them energy. It’s a stark contrast that works well.

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Letterer Rob Jones uses a grittier font for the vampires to further this contrast. You get the sense they speak with a guttural voice, definitely invoking the monstrous side of them. I’m a big fan of using fonts like this for supernatural creatures.

Herd presents an intriguing look at evolution when vampires are involved. Modern man had to survive through all kinds of obstacles to get to where we are today. I would have paid more attention in history class if I knew early man fought vampires.

The Herd creative team is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of the second issue.

Grades:

Story: fourstars Cover
Art: fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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