FARMHAND BY ROB GUILLORY WITH COLORS BY TAYLOR WELLS
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
From Rob Guillory, Eisner-winning co-creator and artist of Image Comics’ CHEW, comes the new dark and twisted comedy horror, FARMHAND. The story centers on a farmer who discovers a way to grow human organs and transplant them onto people who need them. It sounds like the plot of an HBO horror mini-series but Guillory has put together a well-crafted tale that includes comedy, horror, and thrills.
92 %
A CREEPY GOOD TIME!!
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Every family has its secrets. But no matter how deep you try to bury them, they’ll always find a way to resurface. From Eisner & Harvey award-winning co-creator and illustrator of Image comics CHEW, comes Rob Guillory’s own new series, FARMHAND. Guillory brings along colorist Taylor Wells to bring us a comedic tale of science and agriculture on a creepy level. Is everything as pleasant as it seems at the Jenkins family farm? Or is something evil lurking deep down at its roots?

FARMHAND Vol. #1

The story revolves around Zeke Jenkins who is traveling with his family back to his hometown of Freetown, Louisiana. He’s going through a couple of personal issues while trying to reconcile a messy past with his green thumb of a father, Jedidiah Jenkins. Jedidiah runs a farming business known in Freetown as the Jenkins Family Farmaceutical Institute. But, unlike most farmers, Jedidiah isn’t growing fruits and veggies. His crops consist of organs, human organs.

FARMHAND-Tree house of horrors
Image Courtesy of Image Comics

Need a new arm? Lost an eye? Jedidiah can fix you up in a jiffy. Although everything is seemingly going well at the farm, Zeke still has an unsettling feeling about what his father’s been up to since he last saw him. While the farm is doing amazing miracle work and helping broken people become whole again, you get the feeling that something terrible is lurking beneath the surface. As the story progresses you start to learn that the farm isn’t the only bizarre thing happening in the city of Freetown.

Guillory has outdone himself with FARMHAND. Unlike his previous work on the Image Comics series CHEW, Guillory takes the helm this time around serving as both writer and artist. He’s put together a very well-paced, funny, creepy, and engaging original story that plants its seed (no pun intended) into you from start to finish.

Family Tree

One of the more interesting parts of FARMHAND besides the plug and play organs plot device is the sensational group of wacky characters. Guillory does a fantastic job with his characterizations on an assortment of likable and creepy individuals. Each person feels real and believable, especially Zeke and his family. Zeke, for instance, is a struggling comic writer looking for work who really just wants to live a simple life and take care of his family. He coincidentally looks a lot like the creator of this series but that’s a whole other story.

FARMHAND vol. 1
Image Courtesy of Image Comics

There’s also his son Riley, the new kid on the block who is trying to fit in. Next, is his sassy daughter Abigail who’s more interested in beating people up then making new friends. And last but not least is Zeke’s wife Mae who does her best to stay out of trouble and keep the family together. Together they share the typical normal family values that are relatable.

The most questionable character of the series is definitely Zeke’s creepy bipolar father, Jedidiah. From the readers’ point of view, we do not get to know much about Jedidiah, which helps keep the creep factor. What we do know is he’s unlocked Pandora’s box, so to speak, on stem cell research. This leaves him able to replicate human organs.

A bad quality Jedidiah has is keeping things from his family. One minute he is promising his son no more secrets and the next he is privately interrogating a one-armed man in one of his greenhouses. It’s yet to be seen of his true intentions of either helping the world or harvesting a sinister plot against it.

Watering the Seed

A great quality that helps FARMHAND blossom as the plot moves forward is its subtle placement of themes. It’s not just a typical horror comedy. It actually outlines norms that every family dynamic deals with in some way, shape, or form. It touches on bullying, alcoholism, and the importance of family. The deeper meaning of the book focuses on secrets and how they burden us.

FARMHAND-Driving
Image Courtesy Image Comics

You have Zeke who has a broken past with his father, Jedidiah. Jedidiah’s success at farming came at the cost of losing his family. Andrea, Zeke’s sister works with their dad at the institute, has a few of her own issues that stem from her military background. Underneath all the silliness, comedy, and horror is a great story about individuals and the way they deal with their own demons from their past.

The Guillory Treatment

Rob Guillory does a decent job of blending the tones within his book together nicely. While some pages look terrifying, others are more comedic and light-hearted. His cartoonish art style balances perfectly with the story given its comedic horror. Guillory’s sense of humor is on full display with his array of Easter eggs and funny background antics. He does a good job aligning the story with realistic and ridiculous situations.

FARMHAND-Headless thing
Image Courtesy of Image Comics

Colorist Taylor Wells, who did a lot of coloring work on CHEW, joins Guillory on his solo project. Her choice of colors adds a uniquely enhanced balance to Guillory’s work. Her palette choice of colors gives FARMHAND a different look than her previous work. Here her colors help give this book more of an HBO horror mini-series type of vibe.

Suns Getting Low…

Overall, FARMHAND Vol. 1 gives us a zesty blend of horror, comedy, and weirdness all rolled into one. The pacing keeps the story moving, interesting, and full of unexpected surprises. Guillory flourishes with his strong premise and cartoony art style. The first volume is a great start to a promising new series. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend picking up the trade to add to your collection today.

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