by Ben Templesmith
Ben Templesmith is a creative individual that is likely to always provide readers with something original, even if it pushes them beyond their comfort zone insofar his approach to storytelling, sequencing and general art style. Templesmith, who many may know from his work with Steve Niles on 30 Days of Night had been working with J. Michael Straczynski on the opening arc of Ten Grand. Now, Templesmith has returned with a series that is all him. Written, drawn, colored and lettered by the man, Squidder is a new story through IDW Publishing that tells the story of a strange world that seems to be somewhat reminiscent of Earth with the inclusion of beings that appear to have enslaved the people.
In the opening sequence of the story, readers are brought into the world in a gathering that appears to be somewhat religious. A young girl stands with her parents as a cloaked individual anoints her. It’s a curious sequence that offers very little insight. The pages simultaneously exist in shadows while glowing. Templesmith sparingly uses words, and a wide-screen format that also simplifies the number of panels per page. The sequence moves quickly, as a result, and suddenly the perspective pulls back to unveil a being quite unlike anything the reader has seen or expected to see. Without explanation, the beings are there and this ceremony shifts from seemingly positive to sinister and sacrificial. It is a fantastic use of space and restraint that delivers in its reveal. This is a strange new world.
The transition from the opening story into the latter portion of the first issue is filled with deep oranges and reds. Once again the pages are what seems like an impossible combination of shadows and brightness. Templesmith has always had a craft that stands apart from others and while his style is certainly more loose than conventional artists, the linework and coloring choices synchronize impressively well and the pages are often stunning. Following some incredibly dark imagery, readers are introduced to what appears to be the lead character. Through his opening reflection, more information is provided as to the current state of the world. It borders on being fully expositional, but manages to avoid feeling like unnecessary information in how Templesmith intersperses other story moments and visuals.
Mr. Hitchins is not necessarily a protagonist, though he will be the central character to this tale. More of an anti-hero, Hitchins appears to function as a man with little purpose. When he is approached by a group of individuals hiring him for a gig, he does accept, though he demonstrates his reluctance to be very agreeable. In just a few short scenes, readers get a sense not just of the world and Hitchins, but the story that lies ahead. These new beings have some hold over the society as Earth plays host to them. Some individuals have transitioned to becoming servants to these new beings, while others find ways to get by. Squidder #1 is mostly an introduction, but it is a successful one. For individuals accustomed to Templesmith’s style, the promise of a book that is entirely his creation should be a selling point on its own as this first issue does not disappoint.