Uncle Silas: Genetis Review

The Australian Cartoonists' Association asked me to write up a review of Dave Follett's Uncle Silas: Genetis for Inkspot. Unable to come up with a good enough excuse, I happily agreed. The full review is below, but here is a clipping from this week's The Week:

'Uncle Silas: Genetis' review in The Week

And my review:

Uncle Silas: Genetis

By David Follett Published by Dark Horse Books ISBN 978159582566 $9.99 (US)

Technicolour mushrooms, carnivorous plants, holographic apparitions and a giant rotting fish carcass. No, it's not the contents of the Inkspot bar fridge, but a new graphic novel by David Follett.

Uncle Silas: Genetis hits the ground running as two kids (Selena and Tommy) visit their uncle (scientist and "ecological supergenius", Silas Mortimer Mulch) only to discover him missing, with some bizarre plant activity occurring in his laboratory. They prove themselves to be pretty smart, tough kids. Instead of soiling their pants (as I would have done) when an overgrown cauliflower explains the situation, they take up the adventure with gusto - and set out to save Silas!

Tommy and Selena's search for their uncle introduces them to an ever-changing, endless greenhouse of super-organisms; shrubs that spring up in seconds, fungal hard drives, frog cameras, smart pod suits with organic weaponry and a network of plants that make the your new Mac seem pretty dull. It's environment meets technology, and watch out! The action comes thick and fast - almost giddying at times - in this book for kids of all ages.

Follett's mastery of linework and form bring the artwork to life with a ton of energy and movement. The forest and its inhabitants are dense and intricately rendered, in stark comparison to the main characters, which are simpler and stylised. This contrast allows the reader to not only focus on the characters quickly, but to relate more easily to them. As the characters bounce around the page, one can sense deep roots of comic tradition in Follett's flowering style - from the Manga-inspired action to European 'Band Dessinee', and a healthy dose of classic American adventure strips. Unfortunately, Dark Horse has printed the book fairly small (A5 sized), making the detail harder to appreciate in this edition.

Dave has been working on Uncle Silas: Genetis for around eight years. In its original incarnation, Silas was a weekly interactive half-page Sunday strip for News Limited, but the project kicked into gear after winning US comic publisher Dark Horse's New Recruits competition in 2008. Since then Mr. Follett has written, pencilled, inked and coloured the book in-between his busy freelance career, with publication by Dark Horse in October of this year.

And if his wife, Christie, thought she was getting Dave back on nights and weekends, she might be mistaken! There are five more sequels planned, all to be set in and around South Australia, and according to the Follett, leading to "a massive earth-shattering climax!". I need a Bex and a lie-down already!

Uncle Silas: Genetis is available from all good comic stores and darkhorse.com


Anton Emdin

Visit the Dark Horse site to purchase your copy today.