Graphic novel creators are often multifaceted individuals, but Nic seems to have rolled at least four passions into one to create The Green Man. The obvious interest in comics, particularly European children’s comics, is at the forefront of this. But he’s also a collector of Playmobil, and evidently a keen photographer too. This leaves us with a passionate and extraordinary piece of work that combines all these skills, interests and influences.
The Green Man is Thomas Swift, a university professor with a sideline in amateur sleuthing. When a colleague at another university reports some strange goings-on with one of his students, Swift can’t help but get involved. The resulting mystery, part one of a longer planned story arc, sees Swift travel back in time in pursuit of an evil cult of devil worshippers.
The illustration is entirely created with Nic’s Playmobil collection. Where possible, interior and urban settings appear to be entirely constructed around models, which shows an extraordinary breadth to his collection. Elsewhere, particularly with natural outdoor scenes, his plastic figures are expertly edited onto photographic backdrops to maintain a sense of scale. Either way, Nic has a clear flair for modelling and photographing dioramas.
The time travel element is cleverly used, of course, as it allows Nic to utilise the historical theme of many of the Playmobil toys to the fullest. He’s also created some fascinating recreations of famous works of art and slotted them in, like Easter eggs or hidden gems.
Story wise, the book is well crafted and professionally pulled together. It’s aimed at an audience of eight and up, so isn’t going to challenge an adult reader, though there are some wonderful knowing gags that may fly over the heads of younger readers, much like the recreated masterpieces.
For sharing with a younger reader however, this is looking like a solid series of books and is bound to appeal to kids with a dual fascination with adventure stories and Playmobil figures.