The Lost Colony, v. 1: The Snodgrass Conspiracy
Released: May 2006 (1st Second)
Format: 118 pages / color / $14.95 / ISBN: 9781596430976
I convinced myself to buy The Last Colony, v. 1: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by accident. The last time I was at the Green Valley Book Fair, I saw The Last Colony on the shelves, and something about it seemed familiar. I convinced myself I had read positive reviews about the book on the Internet, so I decided to give it a chance. It was only when I got home that I realized that faint familiarity had come from seeing The Last Colony on the shelves the previous time I had been to the Book Fair.
Grady Klein has constructed an odd story, one with several convergent threads. It’s set in the pre-Civil War South on a “secret” island where people of several different races — white, Black, American Indian, Chinese — live together in one community. But when a slave trader form the mainland wanders onto the island, it sets several plots in motion. The governor’s daughter wants a slave to do his chores; the governor, Snodgrass, and Chinese doctor / herbalist, Pepe Wong, want to get the slave trader off the island while keeping him from returning, both of them working at cross purposes. The blacks and Indians are afraid slaves will be brought to the island along with the evils of slavery.
That doesn’t sound very complicated, but when you add in magical potions, an addleminded servant, a “mechanical slave” (a robot), strange rock creatures, a wealthy plantation owner, a ferryman who’s bad at keeping secrets as he is at playing the violin, it gets more confusing. And Klein’s cartoony, simplified art style doesn’t help in this regard; I found it difficult to tell the difference between several male characters, especially one who was seen in a flashback before he’s introduced in the story. Combine this with the unpredictable effects of Pepe Wong’s potions, and it can be near impossible to tell what the hell’s going on.
Despite the occasionally bizarre trappings, I found The Snodgrass Conspiracy unengaging. There seems to be no real tension, just a series of weird incidents. The main conflicts about keeping the island secret, but seeing how awful the island’s inhabitants seem to be at maintaining that secret, it’s hard to take that plot seriously. Most of the time, the plot’s too silly for me to care about the many characters, but it’s not funny or coherent enough for me to care about the plot. When your big villain is named “Puffhead” and the story is resolved through the combination of chewing gum, magic drinks, and an exploding robot, you’ve either got a mess or a big pile of high-concept awesomeness.
The Snodgrass Conspiracy is a bit of a mess.
Rating: (1 of 5)