King Of The Flies: Volume 1 Hallorave

This one caught me by surprise.  As I read more and more collected editions my library of Fantagraphics books grows with new releases and older material “discovered” online and at my local comic shop.  I was perusing their 2011 catalogue when I came across volume 2: it looked interesting but I needed to get King Of The Flies Volume 1 Hallorave first.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

King Of The Flies V.1

Set in a suburb that is both nowhere and everywhere, King of the Flies is a glorious bastard, combining the intricacy and subtlety of the best European graphic novels with a hyperdetailed, controlled noir style derived from the finest American cartoonists.

King of the Flies first appears to be a series of unrelated short stories, each starring (and narrated by) a different protagonist, but it soon becomes obvious that these seemingly disparate episodes weave together to form a single complex narrative, with events that are only glimpsed (or even referred to) revisited from different perspectives — revolving around Eric, a ne’er-do-well, drug-taking teenager at war with his stepfather and, apparently, the whole world. (He is the titular King.)

This is a dark tale and you immediately liken it to David Lynch’s work.  Odd characters with dubious behaviour interacting in a suburban setting.  It’s a commentary on society and the drain we’re circling.  Michel Pirus has crafted this disturbing tale with excellent dialogue and a gripping story; you don’t like any of the characters but can’t wait to see where it’s all heading.

King Of The Flies v.1 Page 6

Art by Pascal ‘Mezzo’ Mesenburg immediately brings Charles Burns to mind with its thick black inks and flat colours.  It creates the perfect feel for such a dark story and really immerses the reader.  The pages are mostly 3×3 panels: nothing innovative but the layout works so why mess around.  It’s so visually gripping I was hooked and had to finish it in one sitting.

Part of the immersive feeling comes from the format: 9×12.5″ hardcover.  It’s a big book and Fantagraphics maintained the European formatting.  At first blush $19 for sixty-four pages seems expensive but once you have it in your hands the value comes through. 

King Of The Flies Volume 1 Hallorave
Fantagraphics, 2010, ISBN 978-1-60699-320-0