About This Item

Preview Image for Hiyama: Vol.1
Hiyama: Vol.1 (Book Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000109483
Added by: Si Wooldridge
Added on: 24/10/2008 14:00
View Changes

Other Reviews, etc
Places to Buy

Searching for products...

Other Images

Hiyama - squaddie turns graphic novel artist...

6 / 10


It's 2019 and Britain's gangs are out of control. With the Police powerless to stop them due to an overabundance of human rights legislation, corruption and no prison places, the gangs are free to do as please; murder, mayhem and extortion. Matters aren't helped when the Police in general either turn a blind eye or are on the payroll of the gangs, with some very high placed protectors ensuring that the gangs are free to do their work.

From this chaos comes a partnership that spans the generations; a incorruptable police officer and an immigrant from the Far East with the ancient teachings of Hiyama, which is also the family name of said immigrant. This partnership came together in 1964 when a relative of the immigrant was raped and murdered by a gang. The best friend of this immigrant was a police officer who helped him track down the gang, all of whom he despatched in a clinical if gory manner.

This partnership spanned the generations as descendants of the two men followed the footsteps of their fathers; the current Hiyama, Kitano, is training both his daughter Mei in the art of Hiyama, whilst John Torrent, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, pays Kitano and his family to despatch gang-related targets - never killing them but severely incapacitating them.

Things change when the Conner Gang, one of the most powerful in Britain, kill Kitano's wife. Torrent warns that Conner and his gang are untouchable, but they haven't counted on the hot-tempered lethal killing machine of the younger Hiyama...


This is not a bad effort at all. Gruff79 was/is, according to the PR blurb, an Army musician who is an artist in his spare time. The idea of this series, which is planned to span 6 volumes, came from a conversation about whether he'd ever considered comic work. The result is ok, but not without flaws. I'm not an artist and struggle to draw even the most simple of things but I found some of the artwork and character design a little simplistic. On the other hand some of the artwork is quite impressive. My problem is that there doesn't appear to be a consistent style, which may come from creating this in his spare time. Gruff79 needs to find a consistent style to stop his work looking like a collection of separate drawings.

The dialogue is also very simplistic, and I know that a lot of comic work also follows that style, but I couldn't really immerse myself in the world that Gruff79 was trying to create as it felt more like a book that would appeal to teenagers than adult readers. Maybe that is the target audience, in which case, it works as my teenage son loved it. Personally I would have preferred this to have much more political and social commentary woven into the story rather than just concentrating on the family dynamic and the despatching of criminal gang members.

The last main criticism I make is that Gruff79 needs to find himself a decent editor. I'm not sure if this is a self-published book via Tabella or how much hands on they had in the final product but I found some rather simple spelling mistakes that detracted from the work. A good editor could have rooted that out, although I suspect this may have been due to the book not being storyboarded prior to production.

Still, despite all this, it's not bad for a first effort. The final piece is well put together and will look good on a bookshelf. V For Vendetta it isn't, but this is a learning curve for this new author/artist and I'm hoping he can take the lessons he will have learned from the production of this Volume into future instalments of this series.

Your Opinions and Comments

Thanks Si, for taking the time to do such a thorough and detailed review of our book; we're really pleased it was very positive overall. We'd like to add a few follow-up comments, though.  
We don't want to give too much away, but we're really excited by the Hiyama series as a whole. There are clues in the first volume as to where the series is going, but Volume 1 is in essence just the introduction. The big picture; the social and political backdrop, the characters' personalities and motivations are big issues, encompassing family, love, greed, vengeance, corruption, betrayal and violence, and the ultimate climax is dramatic indeed. 
This first volume of the Hiyama series (and Gruff79's first ever book) was pretty much completed by the time we first saw it. All the pictures were drawn, with text in place, so revisions/corrections were very difficult to make (and the text was hard to check) given the timeframe we set ourselves (we really wanted to get the book in print as soon as possible). There are a few typos in there, but we don't feel they detract too much from the story. We're much more involved in the next volumes, and they will be better from that point of view. Gruff79 has learned a lot from doing his first book, and will definitely apply that knowledge to subsequent volumes. 
Glad your son liked the book. 
All the best, Kevin & Julie Quinn - Tabella Publishing.
posted by Tabella Publishing on 29/10/2008 08:22
Thanks for the comments, Kevin & Julie. It happened pretty much as I imagined then. Wasn't sure about the editing purely because the PR talked about how Gruff79 had learnt how to use photoshop, but it seemed like that was a reasonable assumption as I couldn't imagine an editor allowing those things through if it was possible to correct them. I agree that there are few typo's, should probably have quantified that in case people come away with the impression that it's riddled with errors - it's not, nowhere near. Sadly in my line of work, those things kind of make an impact on me, I have the same issue with subtitles on DVD's - although it might not be indicative of reviewers as a whole, it could just be me...

The central idea of Hiyama is sound and I appreciate what you say about the big picture, I just longed for more backdrop and setting the stage. Again, that's probably just personal preference.

Will be very interesting to see where this goes...
posted by Si Wooldridge on 29/10/2008 20:02
It's not just you - I'm like a hawk with typos and still can't get over how many appear in today's published works!
posted by Rich Goodman on 29/10/2008 20:26
I think it's ironic that Si has used grocer's apostrophes in "typo's" and "DVD's"! ;)
posted by David Beckett on 29/10/2008 23:22
No, everyone knows that ironic is having ten thousand spoons when you just need a knife...

Always funny when you pick something up for criticism and then fall foul of it yourself. I could edit it, but that spoils the fun of the moment. :)
posted by Si Wooldridge on 30/10/2008 09:11