Review: The Bean by Travis Hanson

A review of The Bean, a webcomic by Travis Hanson.

Travis Hanson is fan of epic fantasy stories like lord of the Rings and Bone (Jeff Smith’s graphic novel), and he makes this clear on the first page of The Bean. It is from this, as well as from other graphic novel writers such as Jason Brubaker (reMIND) and Charles Vess (Sandman, Stardust), that he takes his inspiration from for his own graphic novel.

It starts out like a lot of classic fantasy tales – there is a lonely boy in a lowly position, hungry for adventure. He is sent on an errand into the woods to collect some shrooms (Groggle's horrid broth could do with some flavour besides rat) and here he meets a shadowy figure who smacks him across the head. This is where our tale really gets going.

The Bean’s character archetypes are what you'd expect in a fantasy story; there's the humble main character, a wise mentor, and a heroic adventurer and his heart of gold barmaid girlfriend. Hanson obviously understands the genre perfectly because he not only knows that these types of characters are necessary to the plot, but he also manages to make his own creations unique. This is seen with Bean’s mentor who speaks only in mysterious rhymes and has a volatile temper, as well as the heroic adventurer Siv who is trusted by no-one and has spent his time working in a tavern rather than questing.

Gorgeous backgrounds give the story a cinematic feel and frame the action perfectly. With broken moons in the night sky and lizards skulking in the background, the attention to detail had me looking over each panel four or five times because I just didn't want to miss anything. The black and white works well for the setting of the story, especially in the beginning where a lot of the events take place in the woods. Originally the first eleven pages were in colour but the artist couldn't commit, so Hanson chose black and white out of necessity. He plans to colour all the pages eventually.

This web comic embodies the words "epic" and "fantasy". Having been around for four years and seen 666 updates at the time of writing, Hanson is getting close to rivalling the fantasy stories he loves in terms of length. If you love long, twisting sagas that draw you in and immerse you in their world then check out The Bean.

Useful links:
The Bean page 1
Travis Hanson’s store
Travis currently has a project on theKickstarter website, go here for details.