Well I just got so excited for Graphic Novels month that I went and reserved a ridiculous number of graphic novels at our wonderful public library. They have been pouring in, however, in no particular order and so I though – well! I’ll just put up a post of a “the highlights” of all the stuff I have read in the past couple of weeks.
The Clockwork Girl – by Sean O’Reilly and Kevin Hannah – This is an interesting retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It pits the Tinker, who creates robots and the Clockwork Girl, against the Mad Scientist, who creates… science projects and the Amazing Mutant Boy. Each scientist believes that their way is the only way, and there is the requisite bad blood, of course. The Clockwork Girl and the Amazing Mutant Boy meet and befriend each other, and the scientists, while the scientists are forced to reconsider their stances. Needless to say this is a cute, feel-good story – but there is some good meat to chew on too. I enjoy how, first of all, this book is names after the girl in the story a fun revision that places the Juliet character, innocent and clever front and centre. While the the Romeo character isn’t quite as obvious a reference to Shakespeare’s source text, he does have me reminiscing about Frankenstein and the wonderful morality around the “creation” of life.
The dialogue is light and lets the illustrations, in beautiful colour, do much of the storytelling. This is mostly successful, there are only a few moments where I thought there could have been some words, some more interiority from the Clockwork or the Monster – you know, to get more into those fun questions. It’s lovely a quick, a recommendation for all ages.
The Professor’s Daughter – by Joann Sfar & Emmanual Guibert – For such a small little book this one really takes you through the rabbit hole! I mean, even knowing that it’s a romance between a mummy and the daughter of the man who discovered him, I wasn’t fully prepared for the whimsical adventure that ensues. The story begins with Lillian, daughter of the renowned Professor Bowell, who takes her father’s prized mummy Imhotep out as her escort for the afternoon (why not? I mean if there is a mummy around who knows London you might as well ask if he’d give you a tour). It starts out with a little philosophy as the two banter and chat their way around the town – only, well, it’s a mummy… walking around London. They are bound to draw attention. A full scale whopper of an adventure whirlwind ensues as there is a murder, more mummies (not all as nice as Imhotep), courtroom drama, voyages at sea, an assault on Buckingham Palace, jailbreaks, and Queen Victoria in the Thames. Quite exciting! It’s a charming little book with well developed characters (despite the chaos), some interesting philosophical questions and plot-fun, PLUS it’s a quick read but the art will have you slowing down to soak it in. It is just so lovely and stylish!
We3 – by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely- Wow. This is such a compelling and heart-breaking read. At it’s core this is a story about a group of animals trying to find home – where you don’t run anymore. However, the simple tale is amplified by the science fiction, and arguably dystopic, backdrop of a secret research laboratory which experiments on animals. Here former pets, who have such simple, direct and sweet dialogue, are welded to advanced cybernetic carapaces that enhanced their nervous systems and carry cutting-edge military hardware as prototypes envisioned to rule the battlefields. When this batch has completed their tests, and studies have completed, they are slated to be decommissioned – but they won’t be destroyed without a fight.
This is a beautiful, horrible story that had me snuggling my kitty tightly all night long. Not only does it raise, again, all of the issues surrounding animal testing – at what cost do we wear our make-up? – but it also digs into the morality of pre-emptive mass effect weaponry and warfare. The art is exquisite and design in this book plays such an important role in the storytelling (Animals have a different perception to time; they perceive it slower, living in between moments of human heartbeats, so he illustrates these panels as seen through their eyes.)
This one is not for the feint of heart, but it is a truly great story.