BigFoot Bill - Shadow of Mothman Review "The Bes
• Doug TenNapel (Author-Pencils)
• Doug R. TenNapel, Inc. (Publisher)
It's sad but BigFoot Bill made me realize that I haven't read a legit Graphic Novel in over 2 decades, if not more. I don't think my memory is completely gone, despite the heavy drinking. The last Graphic Novel I recall reading was Spider-Man: Hooky by Susan Putney and Bernie Wrightson. That book came out in 1986.
When I say Graphic Novel I don't mean the regular trade paperback collecting 4-6 issues of an ongoing series. I mean a complete work with a beginning, middle, and conclusion.
I shamefully admit that I was a late adopter to Doug's BigFoot Bill campaign. I first saw the pitch on one of Ethan Van Sciver's live-streams and was generally unimpressed. My favorite artist is Ian Churchill followed by greats such as, Greg Capullo and the aforementioned Ethan. BigFoot Bill is on the opposite end of the spectrum of those artists. That's not to say that Doug's art is bad, far from it. It's just that aesthetically his art style is about a complete 180 from what I usually purchase.
What finally sold me on the project was an EVS livesteam. Doug was drawing a splash page of Poseidon for his art book. Ethan challenged Doug to redo the page because he knew Doug could do more with it. Rather than bitch and moan about the constructive criticism, Doug redrew the page again and it turned out absolutely amazing. I was beyond impressed and backed the project immediately. I made the mistake of conflating a simpler art style with a lack of quality and for that, I realized that I did Doug a disservice.
I know Doug TenNapel without knowing Doug TenNapel. Like most children that came of age in the 90s, I recognize his work from the 16 - Bit Classic Earthworm Jim. Surprisingly, as hardcore of a gamer I used to be, I never played Earthworm Jim, the sequel, watched the animated series or played with the toys. Earthworm Jim was all around me, I just never got into it.
It's because of the quality of this Graphic Novel and the accompanying art book that I will be going back and playing the classic games very soon.
Enough Background on my quaint and uninteresting life. Let's get to BigFoot Bill.
Right off the Bat. I have to acknowledge the beautiful presentation of this Book. The Graphic Novel is a 9x12 hardbound Book with an embossed gold foil cover and it's glorious.
People complain about the cost of crowdfunded books but the presentation and the interior content makes this package totally worth the entry fee.
I've never actually seen a Graphic Novel with so much love put into the presentation, words simply do not do it justice.
Doug also does the interior art with Kelsey Shannon and Katherine Garner providing colors. The art direction is amazing throughout the book and I have to kick myself for doubting Doug in the first place. BigFoot Bill does not have the most realistic art style but the lack of realism is made up by the dynamic and manic energy of the lead characters.
Bill moves with a sense of urgency, and that urgency is on every page, and every panel. The pace of the book is brisk but there is a ton of material to look at, and with the final page count coming in at monstrous 96 pages, you're not going to read this book in 10 minutes.
The Book opens with an escape attempt. Bill is essentially a prisoner of the Crypto-Zone. A facility used to house most of the monsters you've heard about in urban legend and mythology. Also housed in this facility are Mothman and Poseidon, our chief antagonists.
Before long Bill becomes bonded with The Mythological Kraken, and imbued with the power of Poseidon's finger. They eventually escape the facility and are tasked with taking down The Mothman who plans to use his powers to induce fear to enslave the world.
The plot casually reminded me of the Batman: Arkham Knight villain plot but I doubt it was intentional.
I also have to mention Bills Friend Agent Beckner. A loveable loser who protects Bill in order to use him for dating advice.
What's immediately established in the early segment's of the book is that although the lead character and art style is extremely light-hearted the story has a very mature and dark undercurrent that peeks out the more you consider it.
Throughout the book, Both Mothman and Poseidon are shown to be downright scary villains. Without giving away the conclusion of the Graphic Novel, I can't wait to see what Doug does with these characters going forward.
All in all, BigFoot Bill is a thoroughly engrossing story with great art. The narrative progression is also refreshingly linear with the story feeling like something that could be easily adapted into an animated feature or videogame.
This is a Book that you can enjoy alone or with your kids. You'll never be bored reading BigFoot Bill. There is enough intrigue to keep you wanting to learn more about the world and characters that Doug has created here.
I highly recommend BigFoot Bill whether you can find a copy on eBay or when Doug eventually includes it in another campaign.
The BigFoot Bill art book was included in the tier that I purchased and it was worth discussing in its own right but, I won't do it in this blog post. It's a great companion piece and deep dive into Doug's creative processes.
It also gives some Background into Poseidon's current predicament.
On that note, I think I've rambled and shilled long enough. BigFoot Bill is amazing and is currently the best-crowdfunded book I've backed to date.
Cyberfrog has some big shoes to fill...