The majority of humans were unceremoniously exterminated; almost nobody alive remembers what life was like before the squid came. Nobody knew how they came or why, but the alien force wreaked havoc on the world. With his latest graphic novel The Squidder, Ben Templesmith wrote and painted a horrific masterpiece.
Artwork is the strength of The Squidder, although the writing isn’t weak by any means. The graphic novel is all about struggle. The world, presumably Earth, has been overrun by giant, floating, hyper-violent squid monsters. An army of genetically modified men called squidders are sent out to fight tirelessly against the enemy to no avail. One of these squidders, possibly the last one alive, is the main character of the book. The story takes place decades after most of humanity was killed and stopped trying to fight.
For the most part, all hope is lost. Some humans started worshipping the unstoppable squid, while most of the others tried to live in the shadows. The squidder resents most of humanity for their petty squabbles, but finds a connection and glimmer of hope when he meets a squid priestess wanted by thugs.
Every page is a struggle, gripping and ominous. A deep black surrounds almost every page and panel, a constant reminder of the unknown. It is a deep abyss and Lovecraftian horror encapsulating every inch of the story.
The art inside the panels is unique and disturbing, combining Templesmith’s use of simple pen lines and unconventional watercolors to convey a rich array of emotions and feelings that pour out of every page. Red dominates the book as people are torn to pieces and reduced to mush from the sharp limbs and powerful acid spray of their enemies. Greens and yellows flow together to create the rest of the world. Sparse uses of white and blue create powerful scenes and pages that stand out against the stark plight of the world.
Templesmith’s mastery of light and shadow bring out vividly illuminated scenes, with the bleed of the watercolors providing a natural glow where needed. Every page has pristine shading and depth, every character and piece of scenery popping with detail and life.
The chapters flow together into a cohesive tale of the beaten-down hero risking everything to finally put an end to humanity’s depression. The story borders on cliche at times but it drives forward relentlessly into brutal territories with heartfelt themes of loss, hopelessness and surrender.
The hardcover collection of The Squidder, funded through Kickstarter, was released in the middle of its IDW-published trade paperback run. I backed the book after following Templesmith on Instagram and Twitter for months, admiring his artwork and political views.