Nature plays a central role in the book, and the strange flora and fauna help to produce a world that seems familiar whilst remaining completely alien. This skewed version of the natural world evokes both comfort and concern and creates a feeling of unease that exists throughout the comic. Although there are brief references to an industrial world existing outside the perimeters of this woodland, the focus never strays from a “geographical space of one or two kilometers” (as described by the author in his interview with us).
Structurally, this character is important and creates a centralising thread in a comic where the sprawling strands of narrative grow as organically as its content. So intertwined are the various sub-plots, that it often seems impossible to know where one ends and another begins. Rather than a complete mess, Karlsson has created a world that is rich, complex and that actively engages the reader. With no direct exposition offered, it is left to the reader to assess the meaning behind the events of The Troll King.
Probably the most accessible section of the book is that of the self-assessed Ewoks: two near-identical , ubiquitously furry. male humanoids. Although never explicitly revealed as human, their joint-narration seems to suggest that they are societal drop-outs who have come to live a purer life in the forest. Spending their days in their log cabin and body-building in the sunshine, they live a happy, content life. Detailing their relationship (which seems to be both fraternal and romantic in nature), the first section of the book leads up to them participating in some kind of Wicker Man-inspired wedding/fertility ritual that causes them to give birth (anally) to twin boys. The author manages to make this bizarre situation a charming, funny, sweet, and, at times, genuinely touching tale of devotion and partnership.
If you like your comics stylised, imaginative, slightly creepy and featuring body-building ersatz-Ewoks, you should stop reading immediately and go pre-order The Troll King now. Go!
If you're still uncertain about it, below you will find a short animated adaptation of a section of the graphic novel, entitled Sleeping and Dreaming of Food. If this doesn't sell the comic to you, nothing will.