Markley’s Fevered Brain: I’m Crabby

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

The March of the Crabs Vol. 1

The March of the Crabs Vol. 1


The title may be a little misleading. Yes, I am often crabby, but that comes with age. This blog is about crabs (and a few other things). No, I am not writing a nature blog, but I am writing about a trilogy of books by writer/artist Arthur De Pins and published by Archaia called The March of the Crabs. This trilogy is absolutely brilliant, even though it is not new. The first volume came out 2015 but I just recently read all three volumes. I picked these books up because I liked the illustration on the cover, I know that is the purpose of the cover. I thought the cover had a whimsy and charm to it and it made me want to read it, even if it did look like a children’s book. It was not a children’s book, even though it is fine for children, but it is a complex tale of politics, evolution, behavior, and so many other things that I cannot list them all here. It is an amazing story with equally stunning art. It is a fine example of what I think all comics should aspire to be; so much more than your traditional monthly comics.

Arthur De Pins is a French creator who was trained in Decorative Arts in Paris. I point this out because I think this greatly influences his art style which is a beautiful mix of animation and classic children’s book illustrations. His designs are so unique that each page is a tour de force of design and style. Almost as important as the story and art in this book is the colors. The colors add a whole new dimension to the art as the pallet is mostly pale colors with occasional bright colors (generally when humans are involved) but the colors add a whole new dimension to the story, adding an animation feel to the style. There are few books that I enjoyed as much as I have these three volumes, as there are not only beautiful they are thought provoking.

Zombillenium Vol. 1

Zombillenium Vol. 1


Much of his work (if not all of it) is done in computers, as his first series, Zombillenium, was done completely using Adobe Illustrator. Zombillenium is a story about an amusement park lead by zombies and vampires and frequented by teens. This is an amusing story which is aimed at teens and young readers and is also a very complex story covering the pros and cons of business while telling a fun little story. The first three volumes of this series have been collected and translated into English by NBM with the fourth volume coming next year. I admit I skipped over these originally, but after reading The March of the Crabs, I am going to go back and check them out.

The March of the Crabs Vol. 2

The March of the Crabs Vol. 2


Back to The March of the Crabs. The story was inspired by a documentary on crabs, which De Pen worked on, and how they behave. The books are about Cancer Simplicimus Vulgaris, a crab which can only walk in one direction that is left or right. They cannot turn around. So they spend their whole life going back and forth. Within this story, the crabs only mate if they happen to bump into a crab of the opposite sex on their path, or only interact with another crab for that matter if their paths happen to cross. It also limits their food resources and their world view. As the story evolves over the three volumes, you discover so much about this little world, as the whole story takes place on a single beach over one year. Yet more things happen within this year than I could ever imagine. There are boat wrecks, oil spills, wars between various sea creatures including brown crabs (the bullies), lobsters, squids, shrimp, and many other creatures. Plus humans, which include a film crew making a documentary about crabs, a Greenpeace crew, the town mayor, and the evil oil executives. While many of these stories run parallel to each other, and explore how the human actions affect the crabs, the crabs have their own issues due to evolution.

The March of the Crabs Vol. 3

The March of the Crabs Vol. 3


I also love how the crab society evolves, while reflecting the evolution of humanity, warts and all. The first book opens with two crabs “playing” a guitar that has been abandoned. One crab is on the bottom of the guitar and the other is on the top playing the frets. As the story evolves, we learn that the crabs do not have names as they were never needed as they so rarely ran into another one of their kind (as they can only move in one direction). This story is, at its core, about evolution and the pros and cons of it. As time goes on, the crabs discover they can climb on top on one to change direction or occasionally a flat fish will change their direction (the crab climbs on top of the fish and the fish will turn around thus pointing the crab in a new direction). There is a traumatic change in the environment which forces one crab to turn, and this opens a whole new world, a crab who can move 360 degrees. From here he becomes a legend and the other crabs want to learn how to do this. Over the span of the next year, the Cancer Simplicimus Vulgaris rise from being a single direction victim of the brown crabs, to become an army of huge proportions, to chasing the magical light that they think is heaven. There is so much more to this story but I do not want to give too much away as there are lots of surprises.

This is a story about the evolution of the Cancer Simplicimus Vulgaris, both from a physical and a social level, and at the same time reflects closely the evolution of humanity. I must say that it is a cynical view but I think it is a very fair view of humanity (or the lack of). This book would translate to a film with almost no changes needed as the design and flow of the story is so cinematic you just glide through page after page. I cannot recommend these series of books highly enough, although it may be a bit too strong for the youngest of readers due to the war scenes and some deaths. If you want a change from the monthly superhero soap opera, these are the books for you.

The Green Lantern #1

The Green Lantern #1


Speaking of the monthly superhero soap opera, I want to take a moment and mention the first issue of Grant Morrison’s The Green Lantern. To be fair, I am not Morrison’s biggest fan, but I really enjoyed the first issue of this new series. I thought he really tried to go back to the roots of Hal Jordan and the Guardians and be respectful while still having a few Morrison types of characters. The art by Liam Sharp, again not one of my favorites, works here, as it reminded me a lot of Dave Gibbons work on Green Lantern. I have found people are divided over this first issue; some liking it while others have hated it. While I am not sure where it will go in the long run, I thought this first issue was a fun tale in the traditions of the 1960s Green Lantern. (I hope I am not proven wrong with issue two).

That is it for this blog. Once again, The March of the Crabs is one of those rare stories that is the complete package, as you get a complex, well thought out story with beautiful art that has a beginning, middle, and an end. There is also a love story in here with a beautiful blonde and a crab who is in love with her. This series is a fine example of what comics can be. It rises far above the traditional norms of comic books to become art. Just a wonderful story.

I would love to hear from any of you who might have read these stories. What did you think? Or, if you go and buy these books, please let me know what you think after you have read them. I think you will be as charmed as I was. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. All of these opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. I have already had a disagreement with fellow employees over Green Lantern. As always…

Thank you.

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