Propaganda goes questing with Thorgal in The Land Of Qa
by Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski
Published by Cinebook
(Contains two Thorgal volumes: The Land Of Qa and Thorgal: The Eyes Of Tanatloc)
Another of Cinebook’s reprints of some popular European comics, this time the long running Belgian saga of Thorgal which is up to 31 albums in the original French editions. Each Cinebook volume collects two of the French albums, so this is volume 5 collecting the French volume 10; The Land Of Qa and volume 11; The Eyes Of Tanatloc.
Thorgal is a huge saga that exists in it’s own fantasy world, a genre I’ve never been a particular fan of; sword and sorcery was never my thing, Conan just didn’t grab my attention and The Lord Of The Rings and it’s ilk left me cold, so the prospect of a huge comic fantasy throwing in aspects of Norse mythology, Aztec culture, ancient magics, strange gods and wandering spacemen didn’t exactly fill me with much hope.
But surprisingly, it’s a pretty good read all in all. On the surface it’s a pretty standard sword and sorcery epic, but a well done one and once I settled into it, I found myself actually rather enjoying it as each fantastical part of the adventure unfolded.
(Thorgal and his band en route to the land of Qa. Definitely not the Viking longships I remember. From Thorgal; The Land Of Qa, art by Rosinski.)
Essentially it’s a quest story, with Thorgal and his companions venturing forth to capture a magical mask from far off lands. Thorgal, as far as we know at the opening of The Land Of Qa, has just settled to a life of domestic bliss with his Viking wife and their son when his arch enemy, Kriss de Valnor pops up, has his son abducted and blackmails Thorgal into accompanying her on a quest to capture a magical mask from the “God” Ogotai, who has used advanced weaponry and supernatural powers to establish an Aztec style race of warriors in the Land of Qa.
Thorgal and his band set off to the Land Of Qa, where they discover that all is not as they were led to believe. Meanwhile Thorgal’s son, Jolan, is held by Tanatloc, another God-like being and the enemy of Ogatai, who also has a secret link to Thorgal’s own mysterious past. This volume is part of a longer storyline that finishes in Volume 6 of the Cinebook Thorgal series: City Of The Lost God, which should be out from Cinebook later in 2009 so if you pick it up expecting a definitive ending, you’ll be disappointed. But to fans of long running sword and sorcery epics this is only to be expected.
One thing that is noticeable with this series, and with all Cinebooks from what I’ve seen, is the old problem of scaling the pages. The art is designed for bigger bande dessinee style albums but scaled down slightly for these slightly larger than US comic book format volumes from Cinebook. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the artwork in this format, it’s still perfectly proportioned – just a little smaller than it should be – something particularly obvious with some of the beautiful spreads from Rosinski, whose artwork is perfect for this sort of mythical story:
(A gorgeous page from Rosinski in the Cinebook volume of Thorgal : The Land Of Qa)
So Thorgal was enjoyable enough, indeed it was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be, to the point where I’d quite happily settle down with more volumes in this series, but not exactly my thing. However, for those of you reading this who do enjoy your swords with a little sorcery thrown in, I imagine you’ll be absolutely thrilled by each and everyone of these Thorgal volumes.
The entire Thorgal series from Cinebook is available from the FPI webstore, along with other Cinebook releases. And if you want to see the sort of great Euro-comics Cinebook are releasing their catalogue is available online here or as a downloadable pdf here.
Richard Bruton refutes allegations that he carries a 20-sided dice with him wherever he goes and is known in D&D circles as Bruton the Barbarian.