HEAD LOPPER written & illustrated by ANDREW MACLEAN.
I first discovered Andrew Maclean’s HEAD LOPPER at MICE 2013. That would be the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, in case you were wondering. I was immediately struck by his artwork, and while it was a debate between his DEPARTMENT 0 and HEAD LOPPER, I went with HEAD LOPPER if only because Matt (Barbarian Lord) Smith had a copy of it at *his* table and it looked fun.
It was fun, and remains fun.
HEAD LOPPER is the tale of Norgal, aka Head Lopper (or The Head Lopper, depending on who is speaking). When we first meet our hero, he is arriving at the Island of Barra, where strange things are happening. Giant wolves and other creatures are terrorizing the inhabitants and so they’ve called for the Head Lopper, although the priests who have summoned him make the mistake of thinking he’s going to work for free. Apparently the priests don’t realize being Head Lopper doesn’t exactly pay the bills on it’s own. We also discover that the giant bag Norgal carries over his shoulder carries the decapitated head of Agatha Blue Witch, and while she may be short on body, she’s big on trying to freak people out by shouting BOO at them. Decapitated? Yes. Dead? Apparently not quite.
The second issue of Head Lopper continues the Wolves of Barra story, as we get our first glimpse at the true villain(s) of the story. We also get to meet the current ruler(s) of Barra, and we find the priests from the first issue still none-to-thrilled with Norgal.
Andrew Maclean’s writing is a lot of fun (as I may have mentioned a few times). There’s definitely influence of Mignola and Avon Oeming in both the writing of the story as well as the art, and that’s no bad thing. There’s definitely a sense of history behind all the characters and settings… world building on small scale. You won’t be overwhelmed with a lot of unnecessary details, but you’ll believe in the world the story takes place in, and that’s the important thing.
Art-wise, again, Maclean has some clear influences in Mignola and Avon Oeming, but there’s other artists influence as well. Paul Pope perhaps? Corey Lewis? Some manga artists as well no doubt. However that’s not to say Maclean’s artwork is derivative, because it’s not. Maclean’s artwork may show it’s influences, but his artwork definitely stands (and stands out) on it’s own.
I should also give credit to Mike Spicer who colors the book and does an excellent job of it. It’s a very colorful book, without being over rendered. Again, it’s calls to mind the coloring of something like HELLBOY.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the fantastic guest artist gallery, featuring… oh, wouldn’t you know? Avon Oeming and Mike Mignola, just to name two.
Definitely find yourself copies of Head Lopper 1 & 2, and then wait anxiously for the 3rd installment in the Wolves of Barra storyline.