Gregory doesn’t want to move. Resolved that nothing positive can come out of changing residences, Gregory’s opinion evolves when he finds a glowing, green medallion under a floorboard in his new room. Following the map on the medallion to a church, he soon discovers the building is a secret portal for the supernatural to seek refuge from dark magic. The church’s gargoyles act as the portal’s air traffic controllers, and they need Gregory’s help making sure each species gets through before their location is compromised. A sympathetic plight, Gregory and the Gargoyles is the first in a trilogy Humanoids is publishing to boost their all-ages output, but Gregory has another reason for wanting to help the gargoyles out. The medallion did more than make Gregory aware that dragons and griffons exist. It sent him back in time to 1694. He has to find another way home.
Reading the volume as an adult, an assortment of feelings bubble up (including some twinges when Gregory isn’t careful about jumping from windows to trees). Starting with how you experience, and remember, things differently when you’re a child, writer, D-P Filippi’s, opening scene gets right to the root of how your concerns change as you grow older.
Gregory and his mom have arrived at their apartment with luggage in tow. To see the move through Gregory’s eyes, it’s untenable that their apartment is located across the street from a church. His youth allows him some self-absorption, but Filippi doesn’t ignore Gregory’s mom in this scene. Carrying their bags up the stairs singlehandedly, without help from her kids (or her husband!), Gregory’s mom makes sure the church can be Gregory’s only concern with the kind of selflessness you don’t realize when you’re little. Kids may appreciate this scene more for its humor than its sacrifice, but Filippi’s ability to empathize with both age groups is incredibly perceptive.
If there’s one point Gregory and the Gargoyles tries too hard to push, it’s forcing time travel into a story that doesn’t need it. Instead of sending Gregory to a past, where nobody knows who he is, Gregory meets a 17th-century version of his family who believe Gregory’s their 17th-century son. An interesting approach in theory, in practice all this means is that instead of being able to devote all his time to helping the gargoyles, and becoming friends with another time traveler, Gregory has to keep up appearances at school and the dinner table.
Not enough stories are written about gargoyles, and it’s a disservice to the books ingenuity, in making gargoyles the headline, that they jog against so many other characters. Both artists, J. Etienne and Silvio Camboni, have the best time drawing fantastical beasts and Etienne’s panels, after Gregory’s jump to 1694, seem to produce new mythical creatures every time you look at them. The texture of his gargoyles pop against solid colored accents. Since the book is transparent about splitting the book between two different art teams, there’s an urge to look for variances in style, but they’re as cutting as noting Gregory’s eyebrows change shades.
For anyone who watched the Hunchback of Notre Dame and wished for more gargoyles, Gregory and the Gargoyles is a book the whole family can read together.
Review – Gregory and the Gargoyles
Written by D-P Filippi
Art by J. Etienne (cover, pages 4-50) and Silvio Camboni (pages 1-3, 51-96)
Colors by J. Etienne (pages 5-50) and Christelle Moulart (pages 51-96)
On Sale August 23