Farmhand #1 Is Hilarious Horror With Shades Of The Body Snatchers And Willy Wonka
by Olly MacNamee
Rob Guillory came to prominence as the artist on his and John Layman’s spectacular sleeper hit, Chew, which I devoured like Tony Chu devoured evidence. Well, it’s been a while coming, but now Guillory has come out of hibernation to offer up his own crazy creation as writer and artist and Farmhand is the result, from Image Comics. And, if you liked Chew, you’ll love this too.
Guillory’s artwork has always verged on the humorous side, with exaggerated characters and hyperbolic emotional responses and panels filled with jokes, if you care to look for them. Having grown up on a diet of Leo Baxendale in the UK and the ‘usual bunch of idiots’ on MAD Magazine, I immediately connected with Guillory’s style and substance and so I was always going to pick this up. It’s what added an extra dimension of fun to reading what was, at times, a rather dark comic in Chew. And, it’s what will have you coming away with a similar feeling once you’ve finished this promising first issue.
This is a dark comic too, from start to finish. Whether it’s the nightmare vision Zeke Jenkins has at the start of the comic, or the sight of human organs grown like crops on his father’s farm (thanks to the development of a super seed that, I have no doubt, will have nefarious origins), the humour softens the blow, but not by much. It may seem on the surface like an estranged son’s attempts to reconnect with his father, but it doesn’t take long to realise there is far more at stake here. A danger that threatens to be global before this series is finished.
Zeke is returning to his father’s very successful farm that is attempting a very noble thing in harvesting organs and limbs that can be successfully grafted onto patients. All well and good, right? Well, the whole issue screams at the reader, if not Zeke, to beware, be very aware. We are given a guided tour, along with Zeke and his family, which acts as useful exposition to inform us, over a wonderful double page spread reminiscent of the journey Charlie took through Willy Wonka’s trip tunnel in the only version of that film that counts, of his father’s rising fortunes. But, the vision he encounters, which led to his Jedidiah Seed is not explained, and you just know that’s going to bite them on the ass at some point down the road. Especially as he is partnered in this endeavour by Big Oil. And, that never ends well.
Following this revolutionary trip, we are surrounded by foliage filled with fully functional limbs and beating organs. Add to that some old time industrial espionage, and we have a thrilling, horrific tale to be told with shades of The Body Snatchers, the aforementioned Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and, of course, Chew. A title Guillory served his apprenticeship on and has now come out not only an accomplished artist, but a pretty damn fine writer too. It’s hilarious horror!
If you’re lucky you may still be able to plough through last week’s comics and dig up an issue.
Farmhand #1 released from Image Comics on July 11th, 2018.