Monster on the Hill
It’s 1867, and every English town has its monster. While the townsfolk pretend to be scared when it comes down from the hill, it’s really part of a shared excitement, everyone doing their jobs and playing their parts. Except for Stoker-on-Avon, whose monster is depressed and mopey. He doesn’t attack the town, and the leaders want something better to improve morale and avoid the “enormous sighs and groans” that are all they get out of the pathetic beast.
They send a disgraced doctor out to “fix” the monster, accompanied by a scrappy orphan newsboy whose confidence is catching. They decide that a road trip is needed so their beast can find out he’s not worthless from other monsters. Monster on the Hill reads like demented Dickens by way of Lovecraft, only a lot funnier.
Rob Harrell’s style and coloring resembles a twisted newspaper comic strip or children’s book. The human caricatures are funny, while the monsters are somehow both scary and sympathetic. It’s an easy read with a surprising amount of heart under the sarcasm and goofy imaginative fun. While kids will enjoy the surface story, adults will appreciate the sly humor and sympathize with feeling like they can’t do anything right. Monster on the Hill is a pick-me-up, a reminder that any of us only need friends and purpose to feel better.
Preview pages are available at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)
Update: Apparently the 2021 Paramount animated movie Rumble is “inspired by” this graphic novel (although it sounds a good deal different, since the movie involves monsters competing in professional wrestling in a more recent era), so this book is being re-released in an Expanded Edition, with a new ten-page epilogue. That version is due out September 2020, and it can be preordered now from your local comic shop with Diamond code JUN20 0621.