A wee confession. I hate fantasy, or what used to be called back in the day as swords and sorcery. I think this goes back to reading Lord of the Rings as a kid and hating it (though I quite like the films oddly enough), or getting bored reading my brother’s Conan books after the 385th mention of Conan’s ”bull-neck”. An exception is to be made for Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories and most of Pat Mills’s Slaine, but really, put something with barbarian swordsmen, elves, orcs and fucking bastard wizards in front of me and I’ll try to eat my own jawbone.
So why am I talking about writer/artist Andrew McLean, and colorist Mike Spicer’s Head Lopper? For a start it looks fabulous and unlike other fantasy comics at the moment it’s not dripping in ‘influences’ from Manga or bloody Conan, or bloody bastard Lord of the Rings, but it looks European. It looks different.
Norgal, the Head Lopper, is a warrior for hire in a Scotland where dragons are real and men are called Norgal. He carries with him the head of Agatha, the Blue Witch, and at this point as long as there’s no elves I’m enjoying a fun book that’s not quite playing it seriously with the almost Pyton-esque violence, but at the same time McLean tells a good rollicking fantasy tale of a Hebrides island under siege from monsters and witches.
Norgal is a typical hero with a sharp sword, and the villains and monsters in Barra are your typical fantasy monsters such as these giant wolves…
It should be tedious to me. It’s not. There’s a freshness to it, not all the time mind. sometimes it is getting a bit too fantasy for it’s own good, but there’s always something quirky in the art to draw me back in, or a nice bit of humour.
Head Lopper is a fun diversion. Yes, it’s fantasy. Yes it’s got wizards and witches, brave swordsman and heroics but not one bloody elf! For that alone I’m grateful but this really is enormous fun and although the cover price is a wee bit high, the art is alone worth the price. This is highly recommended for people that want something a bit more from their fantasy than bloody poncy elves!