The Animal Republic

When Soviet soldiers leave the Siberian forests and the animals are left to their own devices, rivalries flair up and different clans find themselves pressed under hoof. Who among these creatures is strong, brave, and lost enough to reign supreme? From the imaginative mind of David Derrick Jr. comes Ghost of The Gulag (vol. 1), containing the answer to that question.

Tsarevetch of the wolf tribe finds himself lost and alone with the exception of a clan of vicious boars (under the guidance of their leader Katorga) that hunt him to gain full control of their section of Siberia. While on the runs he come across an abandoned Soviet outpost occupied by a troublesome raven and a blind Amur Tiger. What comes next is a journey back across a frozen land for this trio to have some words with the boar-ish “King of the Forest”.

David takes no time in introducing us to an unforgiving environment with tumultuous politics. Within 30 pages we are shown territories, factions, caste, and coups between the various species and by the end of the book those politics have shifted in violent ways. All of the physicality for the animals feels right, with understandable posing and actions that feel fast. Every character, big and small, has motion within their panels making for some formidable imagery. There is a whole empire being shown to us throughout this first volume, and even though we gain some knowledge of who these players are the book is finished feeling like the plane these characters inhabit is even bigger than first glance.

Feeling like a sinister fable, David Derrick Jr.’s Ghost of the Gulag is an awesome commencement to a grand story. With warfare in the animal kingdom and damage left by the humans who have passed through, the situations in this story feel very unique and the illustrations move the whole book at a great pace. Ghost of the Gulag started out as a webcomic which you can find here. You can also purchase the book physically here.

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