ever deeper into the monstroleum

Back in May I wrote about the first volume of Monstroleum, a really fun illustrative journey that’s part adventure diary, part bestiary. JFish, AKA Jason Fischer, recently returned for more with volume 2, continuing the harrowing journey of Voluspa the Tall as she endeavors to learn more about the demise of her people at the hand of the Dragon King Smaurin.

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My copy with the requested Medusa-Hydra drawing

Like the first volume, this Monstroleum entry is a further exploration of Jason’s storytelling abilities, and it doesn’t disappoint. The illustrations are fantastic, but they’re best served as visual complements to the text, which makes all the little details in them that much more effective. The world is well fleshed-out, and the fact that you can see bits of other steps in the journey in the backgrounds—ladders lie barely visible in the darkness, precarious staircases crumble, and specters float behind fully-illustrated monstrosities—is icing on the cake.

I previously compared reading Monstroleum to a classic NES instruction manual, but it also reminds me of playing something like Shadowgate. The first-person perspective isn’t lost on the reader; enemies appear just as Voluspa describes the encounter. A Giant Slug peers down from a musty stone wall, Slimes creep toward the reader, and a snarling Wolfen gives you the old side-eye like it just got busted doing somethin’ afoul of the norm.

Monstroleum vol. 2 has its own natural arc to it, ending at just the right moment of respite, but still leaving you with more on the mind. Thankfully you can subscribe to the series so you won’t have to worry about missing the next leg of Voluspa’s increasingly wide-eyed and exciting adventure. 

Get individual volumes or subscribe to Monstroleum over at JFish’s website.

enter the monstroleum

Friend of subhumanzoids JFish (AKA Jason Fischer)—who will forever be known in my mind as Big Man Face from the short film of the same name—recently kicked off a new comic series called Monstroleum. Comic isn’t even the right term (it’s actually a mini-book), but those are what JFish is known for in addition to his amazing artwork. The first volume is out now, and what makes Monstroleum interesting is that it’s the first time we really get a taste of JFish’s own narrative voice. It’s not surprising to find he’s got storytelling chops that complement his art nicely.

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JFish’s previous comics work, from Jaephisch & the Dark Rainbow to Junqueland, has had him teaming up to illustrate with a writing partner. Monstroleum is all him, and it tells the tale of Beatrude Voluspa the Tall, a dwarf who sets off on her first adventure and plans to document all the wild creatures she encounters along the way.

The result is part travelogue and part NES instruction manual, so of course it’s right up my alley. Each page has a drawing of a monster, both in the form of a full-on illustration and a fantastic little sprite-style profile. Completing the page is a description from Beatrude’s journal, each of which maintains a consistent voice and paints a vivid mental picture of the land and the long, tough road taken between each notable encounter.

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JFish calls Monstroleum “a love letter to all the fantastic adventure books and games I grew up with,” and it really shows. The storytelling comes off as effortless and it’s clear loads of care was put into each illustration, plus you can get original drawings of a monster of your choosing if you pre-order upcoming volumes or subscribe to all five. Here’s JFish’s take on a chimera he did for my copy of volume 1.

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Monstroleum is available to purchase from JFish’s website.