Bodie Troll won’t like me telling you this so shhhhh, but good lord, he’s freaking adorable.
Yes, yes I know, trolls aren’t supposed to be adorable or sweet or lovely or Anne of Green Gables meets Pollyanna wonderful or in fact anything good, wholesome and kind.
They are, as Bodie tells anyone who will listen, monstrously cruel, challenging goats on bridges and eating those that refuse to comply, sending villagers running to their homes in search of safety and just plain irascibly nasty and difficult.
Well, that’s the PR anyway.
Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re one of the people who loves him such as barmaid at The Drunken Pumpkin and aspiring thespian, or even tolerates him such as magical spatula-waving fairy godmother Miz Bijou, Bodie Troll, who lives under a bridge outside the fantastical medieval village of Hagardorn, is nothing like the trope.
Not even close to it, in fact.
Sure he can be cranky and cantankerous and more than a little irritable but he’s also charming, helpful, kind and has been known to look after babies that poop fertiliser and rain down big, heavy objects from the sky.
In other words, to his unending frustration, he’s too damn nice for his own good.
And that is the central joke in Jay Fosgitt’s utterly beguiling comic Bodie Troll, released in 2013 as a four-part series (yeah I’m a little to this particularly delightful party), followed up in 2014 and 2015 with Free Comic Day issues, augmented by a new 4-part 2016 series “Fuzzy Memories” and soon to be added to by a brand-new graphic novel this year via Boom! Studios.
What makes Bodie Troll work so beautifully is that it’s no one-joke pony, or troll.
Granted there is a great deal of silliness at work here and the jokes fly thick and fast, many of them drawn from the premise of an adorable troll who wishes he wasn’t, but there’s a great deal of heart at work here too.
In fact, you can easily see how Jim Henson, who most famously gave us the Muppets, is an inspiration for Bodie Troll, with Fosgitt having this to say about what he wanted to bring to this most beguiling and amusing of comic creations:
“My inspiration for Bodie Troll was my love of fairytales, folklore, and mythology … I wanted to imbue it with anachronistic humor to make the characters and their stories relatable to our own world, while having a warm heart at the center of the silliness. I wanted to create something that Jim Henson would have appreciated.” (Bleeding Cool)
The Henson element is very much in evidence with the anarchic goofiness of the Muppets and their intrinsic humanity very much on display.
Even more than that though, there are elements of Asterix, both in the writing and the artwork, which recalls the great artist of that French series, Albert Uderzo, and even Calvin & Hobbes capacity for the philosophical and the gleefully, cleverly over-the-top.
For all those influences, and Fosgitt uses them and others well, Bodie Troll is a singularly unique creation, a figure all of his own making who you can help but fall in love with (even though Bodie would, naturally, hate the very idea of that).
In the middle of monsters hatching from giant eggs, poop fertilising babies who come from on high and news delivered, with nakedly obvious product placement, by Socko the sock puppet, and even magically transformative lipstick (which Bodie hilariously does not take full advantage of), there’s staunch friendship, flawed by rewarding friendships and a sense that Bodie’s real quest in life is not to scare or eat goats – “That’d be gross” he declares – but to accept who he is, kindhearted soul and all.
There’s absolutely no chance that he will ever be asked to join Mordor’s army or rip the head off an old dame in search of her hens and honestly, that’s OK.
After all, spend any time at all with Bodie’s funny irascibility and all you want to do is hug him tight as Cholly often does, wish him well, as the villagers almost always do, and may even buy him a drink or some grubby, floor-sourced root vegetables.
You will also want to keep laughing at his unending frustration that he isn’t what he wishes he was, the distillation of anyone who has ever wished they were something they are not and never will be.
In Bodie Troll, Fosgitt has given us an immersively lovely tale that anyone who has ever struggled to accept themselves will take enormous pleasure in; for not only does it reaffirm that you’re fine just the way you are, even if you won’t accept it, but that flying against type is actually a pretty cool thing to be, and far better than being the same as everyone else.