Comic Review: Monster On The Hill (IDW Publishing)

Monster On The Hill, from Top Shelf and IDW, is a charming, long storybook type of graphic novel for young readers. Or young listeners; especially those who love to follow […]

Monster On The Hill, from Top Shelf and IDW, is a charming, long storybook type of graphic novel for young readers. Or young listeners; especially those who love to follow the pictures while the story is being read to them.

In a fantastical 1860’s England (with some waffling of timely dialogue and other stuff, but close enuff), a quiet little township, Stoker-on-Avon has a problem. In a time when each little English place has its big scary monster to entertain and attract visitors, their monster is down in the dumps. Can Rayburn the Monster get a reboot, a refresh, a reptilian-restart to his frightful place? He’ll need help from a street urchin named Timothy, plus the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie, and a few other hugely surprising helpmates!

Rob Harrell (Big Top, Wink, Life of Zarf – and the Adam@Home comic strip) writes, draws, letters, and colours this 204-page graphic novel. It’s big, like a monster, and written in a way that the reader feels like part of the story. It’s not ‘highly edited’ nor ‘compressed’, so it leads to long scenes with effusive conversation. That’s a plus if you like stretching your imagination along with the gang. It may take a while for the story to catch fire, and the fire brigade takes its time to leave the hall, so to speak.
But on the good side, the characters are well thought out, the situations amusing, and the anecdotes and subplots fascinating.

The illustrations are cartoony but detailed in that ‘detailed exaggeration’ sort of way: the township streets have horse carriages, the apple carts have apples in them, that sort of thing. And the monsters, well, they have claws, beaks, scales, Tentacular tails, and so on. There are some glorious full-page fight scenes within.

The lettering looks ‘hand-drawn’ in Monster On The Hill, giving it a charming retro feel.

A long tale suitable for an elongated series of bedtime readings, this one is fun for all ages.

IDW Top Shelf, Monster On The Hill, $19.99 for 204 pages of content

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!