Monday, 29 November 2010

Review - The Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City

This comic, by Brendan Leach, is something that I picked up in Isotope Comics in San Francisco (a great comic shop!) on my recent holiday in California, just because I liked the look of it. It is presented in the style of a tabloid newspaper from the early part of the twentieth century and was apparently produced as the thesis for a masters degree.

It tells the story of a family of Irish-American pterodactyl hunters as they track the last few surviving pterodactyls through the skies above New York (why there are still pterodactyls in New York in 1904 is never explained). Declan and Eamon are brothers and rivals. Eamon is the chief pterodactyl hunter and gets all the glory while Declan is relegated to watchtower duties. Declan wants the opportunity to hunt pterodactyls and get some of the glory for himself but also feels some sympathy for the beasts, who may kill children but are probably only doing so in self-defence. Also, if they do kill the last of the pterodactyls, the brothers will have to find a new line of work. Therefore, when Declan does finally get his shot at glory, he hesitates.

I do hope Leach passed his masters degree, as this is a beautiful looking item with high production values. Leach’s art reminds me of the sort of fancy illustrators you might find drawing strips for the Guardian newspaper – the sort of people who have actually studied illustration at university, rather than teaching themselves to draw by copying Rob Liefeld comics – or even the art of David Mazzucchelli, who was apparently Leach’s thesis adviser. The sudden ending left me a bit disappointed when I first read this – nothing is really resolved and I found myself wondering if perhaps this was a continuing series, which I don’t think it is – but in retrospect it was a good ending, that left the reader to decide what happens next.

At 44 tabloid-sized pages (including covers), this is the sort of thing some higher-minded publisher might have put out as a slim hardcover and charged upwards of $10.00 for. The first edition of this comic, however, was apparently given away for free and this second edition was only $2.00 – half the price of your average Marvel comic. I liked this a lot, loved the newspaper format, and you can’t really complain about a 44 page comic that only costs two dollars. I will definitely keep an eye out for more work by Brendan Leach.


  1. I forgot to add a link to the artist's website, which is: