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Blue Hardcover – March 20, 2012
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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'Blue' is an incredibly meticulously designed, painstakingly illustrated and utterly human debut work for Grant.
Melbourne's The Age review described the work as 'authentic', taking 'full advantage of the comic's medium' and was 'masterfully composed'.
The Australian newspaper's literature section praised Grant's 'beautiful full-page illustrations are worth scouring over so as not to miss the small details' and summarised the work as 'a major achievement' that 'deserves something stronger than conventional praise, and readers as attentive as those for the most involving, demanding novels.'
The Comics Alliance called it both 'beautifully drawn' and 'uncommonly sophisticated.'
The book is part sci-fi. It's part auto-bio. It's part coming-of-age story. It creates a whole new visual language just for Australia and is not comparable to anything else out there right now.
In summary, this graphic novel is Important with a capital I, and a first press copy deserves to be on any serious graphic novel collector's bookcase.
The story is a densely packed and thought provoking exploration into Australia's resentment at migrant culture and casual racism through the eyes of three misbegotten youth. Pat bases the work upon aspects of his own history and life, sharing with readers what life is like growing up in a different culture and how similar it is to our own, even with a vastly different language. And the exploration of racism is unique, not because Pat explores it, but because of how he goes about it. By presenting the other cultures as alien life forms (literally they have tentacles) it forces the reader to look at the issue in a different way than if it was just another human. The treatment, the things that the character say and do, their reaction to death of one of these aliens causes the reader to look deep within themselves at how they act in their own world. It's thought provoking and powerful.
I love Pat's visual style. It reminds me of cartoons from the 30's and 40's with the wavy arms and the way the characters move on the page, almost like they are rubber just bouncing up and down. And yet it is also deeply set within the visual imagery of Australia, especially the way the aliens draw and leave symbols upon the walls and pages of the book. It reminds me of some of the types of lines that I've seen in Aboriginal art, not that this is what Pat is making reference to, but it pulls me in to the story more because of it and what little I know of Australian history.
I think my favorite aspect of this book though is the essay at the back. Grant talks extensively not only about his inspiration for the book (and art in general), but something about the history of graphic and comic art in Australia. He tells us how Australia has so little in the way of history of comic art and how this lack of history creates a positive and negative impact, not only in how own work but the work of others. It's engaging and informative read and a great bonus to the book. In fact I wouldn't mind reading more essays by Pat as he has some great insights that I think could be interesting.
This is probably one of the most difficult reviews I've written. Not because I didn't enjoy the book, but because even a month later I'm still pondering everything that I read. Which is the greatest reason I can recommend it. Its a thought provoking book and I really enjoyed it. So if you're looking for something a bit different or just want to expand your tastes to something from outside the US pick up this book and give it a read. You won't be disappointed. 5 out of 5 stars.