As expected, strange and fascinating things happen when an instructor of Art and Design decides to retell the epic story of Beowolf in the form of an indie graphic novel, giving it a tone of Twin Peaks-meets-The Legend of Boggy Creek, and then uses Kickstarter to fund the project. The result is the quirky (some might say geeky), well-researched, and carefully executed tale entitled The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay by Erik Evensen from Evensen Creative.
Evensen propels reluctant grad student Brian Wegman on an exciting mission as a consultant in a police investigation at Wolfe’s Bay. Why Brian? Because the case involves the deaths of two students at the hands of what may or may not be a giant primate, and Brian has the know-how in the niche specialty of paleoanthropology that the police need to solve the mystery.
Paired with Winifred Roth, professor of folklore and daughter of the local sheriff, Brian discovers that he’s in over his head with both the investigation and his outspoken new partner. With their personalities (and egos) colliding from the moment they first meet, Brian and Winifred try so hard to out-nerd one another that it’s pretty obvious that there’s a love connection brewing. The romantic tension between these characters is very “Mulder and Scully” and plays nicely off of the action in the book instead of detracting from it.
I’d like to give Erik Evensen a high-five for several facets of The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay:
First, he really did his homework when it came to the cryptozoological nuances he included in the project. I’m not saying that I’m a member of a Bigfoot research organization (or maybe I am) but Evensen’s attention to detail in this area is stellar, especially when it could have been rushed or ignored””resulting in a huge turn-off to a large chunk of his target audience.
Next, Evensen appealed to my inner geek by weaving subtle nods to classic cult favorites throughout his story. From Winifred’s Batman belt buckle to the “I Want to Believe” poster on her co-worker’s office wall, these little tidbits help to make the entire book even more endearing. Look closely (and sometimes not-so-closely) and you’ll notice that Evensen pays homage to Dr. Who, Twin Peaks, Star Trek, Army of Darkness, and more. I’m betting there’s a drinking game there somewhere”¦
Last, but certainly not least, I think it’s a refreshing feeling to read a graphic novel about two unlikely heroes whose only real superpower is their smarts. Brian and Winifred are chosen to consult on the police investigation solely for their areas of academic expertise, not because they’re well-known crime fighters or because of some paranormal ability. There’s no magic ring, no irradiated super strength, no time-bending device””it’s just two bookworms and their own creative thinking.
I’ve made it this far without a complaint about The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay, and that’s because I only have one: it was far too text-heavy for my liking. Much of the story’s exposition and development was conveyed in text when it could have been more effectively (and more excitingly) conveyed using images. It is a graphic novel, but I just wish it had been more “graphic” and less “novel.”
Apparently this indie project was not all smooth sailing for its creator, and he even suffered a catastrophic computer hardware failure and subsequent data loss, but Erik Evensen has ultimately come out of the ordeal with a fun and action-packed book that is a glowing testament of his hard work and perseverance.