For eight issues TALAMANDER has remained a fascinating spectacle in the context of an artistís determination to hone his craft and to maintain a relentless creativity. Throughout, there exists a genuine ambition to simply tell a good, entertaining story devoid of parable-like trappings and irritated expostulation. TALAMANDER is/was something of a diverting relief.
Often a touch indulgent however, the series lacks density; much of its run seductively offering page upon page of attractive sequential art, but just a few panels of actual story. Put simply: artist/writer Tim Brown requires no text-heavy panels as means of side-stepping weak panel-to-panel draughtsmanship, but for the most part fails to recognise that the story-telling is not tight enough, and everything that is suspect in the work - explosions of exposition, fatigued illustration, plodding pace - derives from this fatal flaw. In essence, it is the quantity of work produced that is his taxing element, and the quality of output suffers as a result.
That said, stretched over the series there have always been enough glimpses of the artist at his best to maintain interest. Well crafted and technically impressive, his style has developed from hollow, inconsistent cartoon to Corben-like effectiveness. Indeed, with continued production of photo-realistic detail to provide perfect platform for showcasing some quality ink-work, Brown certainly demonstrates the potential to realise mainstream success. And with cleverer composition and firmer control of story-telling, he may well do so.
TALAMANDER #8 sounds the death knell of this series. Previous efforts have frequently lacked coherency and failed to generate any semblance of involvement - this down mostly to inappropriate pacing and a deluge of somewhat confusing sequences of events - but at its best, the series has conjured a solid sense/feel of fantasy/myth writing; of a Princess Bride influenced take on sword and sorcery; and of an artist in search of his prime. With #8, Brown is getting there. I anticipate his next project with something resembling excitement.
TALAMANDER #8 is card covered A4, 20 pages, a pound and fifty, and available from Tim Brown, 22 Woodborough Drive, Winscombe, Somerset BS25 1HB. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Review by John Robbins)