When I got back into reading in 2019, I didn’t care at all about graphic novels or comic books. It just wasn’t a medium that interested me. The few graphic novels I did pick up here and there were all in full color, such as Jeff Smith’s Bone series. I had zero interest in black and white comics. Since then, however, I have developed a deep appreciation for black and white comics. There’s something about them that can be very stark and striking, in a way that full color would actually detract from. I recently discovered Basewood, a giant comic book that measures in at a whopping 9×12. I got a free copy last week and devoured it in one sitting!
ALL YOUR BASEWOOD ARE BELONG TO US
I love the full 9×12 pages devoted to each chapter. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. One of those imaginative worlds you can’t help but dive into and want to stay for a spell or two.
The story revolves around Ben, a man who finds himself mysteriously in the land of Basewood. He has no clue how he got there, and he seems to be the only one inhabiting the land. Having lost memory due to a severe head injury, Ben sets out to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.
It isn’t long before he finds a furry friend. The late evening and heavy downpour creates a very atmospheric opening.
Alec Longstreth’s drawings are simple but detailed and beautiful. It’s a shame he didn’t publish more comics.
This panel gives the reader an idea of just how big Basewood really is, and how daunting it would be to navigate one’s way out. Good luck with that, Ben!
Although Ben can’t remember how he ended up in this isolated place, he hasn’t forgotten his boy scout skills. Unfortunately for him, the fire attracts the local wild life…
It’s a terrible, ravenous wolf dragon!
I love Alec’s decision to add in a little fantasy element. This fantastical antagonist adds a lot of tension and extra depth to the story. Not only is the journey over the cliffs long and arduous, but the wolf dragon is a constant major threat lurking in the background.
We’re soon introduced to the lovable Argus, a hermit who lives deep in the woods with his trusty mutt. He’s a wise old man who knows the land like the back of his hand. He also gives our protagonist someone to converse with to move the story along.
I just love how grizzled and haggard Alec made Argus out to be. If you look closely, his right hand seems to be skeletal. A neat little touch to show that Argus has been through some real shit…
As it turns out, Argus has seen some shit all right as he has history with the terrible beast. He also possesses a heart of gold, gladly offering shelter and companionship to Ben.
Another amazing full page chapter shot. Love it!
Basewood is the kind of comic book that begs to be marveled at. At times I found myself staring at the panels in awe for an extra moment or two. The amount of tiny details that Alec put into it is mind-blowing! I love Argus’ badass treehouse
It’s no luxurious 5 star hotel but beggars can’t be choosers. Actually, Argus didn’t do too bad for himself.
Cue the classic flashback expositional scene. One can almost feel the cozy heat of the fire rising out of the panel and seeping into your bones.
Basewood features a few flashback scenes to add depth to each character. This is Argus’ backstory and origin story, if you will.
There is almost a nostalgic quality to Alec’s art. Very cool and pleasing.
You get a strong sense of the small, tight-knit community that Argus and his wife grew up in. A place where no one bothers to lock their doors and lends a helping hand to one and all.
Argus and Violet soon have a baby boy, and all is well.
But naturally, in most stories peace never lasts for long…
You can feel Violet’s terror bleeding off the page. How utterly frightening and hopeless she must have felt
Basewood is shockingly more gruesome and disturbing than I ever thought it could or would be. But that only serves to intensify the story as well as build up empathy for our main characters.
I love how not all the pages are uniform in terms of how the panels are arranged. Some of them feature wild back to back shots, like this striking one here. It really amplifies the intensity of the moment and is an absolute marvel to gawk at!
I’m not going to reveal further details of Basewood. I would hate to spoil the rest of the story for anyone, as it’s one of those books that you really should go in blind and enjoy. When I first saw this book, I was hoping it would be something of a hidden gem. I didn’t realize how truly brilliant it would turn out to be!
I relished every single second I spent in the world of Basewood. The art is phenomenal, I love the variety of the panels and the story is so good. It’s a simple story filled with tropes. But you care so much for the characters and the artwork is so stunning that you overlook this. Not every story needs to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a really well told story, even if the framework of it is something you might have seen or read a hundred times before. Basewood is an immersive world full of heart, love, courage, sacrifice, danger and friendship. There isn’t a whole lot of text and the 216 pages can probably be read in around an hour or so, but the time will be well spent. If you have any interest in comic books at all, or if these picture intrigued you in the least, I cannot recommend Basewood highly enough. The ending does feel a little rushed but again, I’m willing to look past that. The journey is so damn fascinating and a wild roller coaster ride, even if Alec didn’t completely stick the landing. At the end of the day, it’s all about how a book makes me feel. And Basewood left an indelible mark on me. It’s one I’m excited to reread over and over in the years to come.