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The Professor's Daughter Paperback – March 29, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two of France's best graphic novel talents, the ever-prolific Sfar and the subtle illustrator Guibert, collaborate. The result is a fun—if slight—effort, as much a love letter to Victorian London as a story unto itself. Very simply, a mummy, somehow alive and walking around London, has a charming romance with a professor's daughter. The logistical complications involved are comically dismissed, and the pair have a grand old time together. That is, until the mummy's father appears to complicate matters. Sfar has written an utterly engaging romp comparable to a fine 1930s romantic comedy. His dialogue is snappy, and he moves from thrills to chills to humor without missing a beat. The whole book is silly, and it seems to know it. But Guibert's work is the real treat. His deft brushwork and spectacular sense of color bring the places and dramas to life. In his hands, otherwise stock characters gain a real presence and liveliness, and he has a filmic sense of drama, describing the characters with detail and wit. A section of Guibert's sketches stashed at the end of the book is extraneous, but otherwise this is an excellent little volume. (May)
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From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–This novel follows the tumultuous courtship of a pair of Victorian lovers, one of whom happens to be an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Lillian, daughter of an eminent Egyptologist, and the mummified Imhotep IV turn more than a few heads when they venture out in public, and their affair is complicated when she accidentally poisons two police officers. After turning herself in, she is thrown in jail and tried for murder. When Imhotep is caught trying to rescue her, he, too, must face a judge and jury. Both Lillian's and Imhotep's fathers attempt to save their children and set things right. Imhotep's father takes an extreme approach, abducting Queen Victoria and tossing her into the Thames. The narrative plunges into action with the story already in progress, leaving readers to piece together a backstory as events quickly continue to unfold. The story tumbles forward in surprising directions, and narrative ambiguities are handled deftly so as to spur curiosity and draw readers in. Lush watercolors lend fullness and detail to the characters, and the colorful palette evokes a sense of drama that is tongue-in-cheek. The translucent texture of Guibert's art lightens the narrative, adding to the undercurrent of whimsy that is apparent throughout this enjoyable melodrama.–Heidi Dolamore, San Mateo County Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; 1st edition (April 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159643130X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596431300
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,441,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Angela Thompson VINE VOICE on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
This charming, madcap Victorian romp was originally published in 1997 and has just recently been translated into English and reissued by First Second. The French pairing, Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert, have infused their girl-meets-mummy love story with equal amounts whimsy and longing. Lillian Bowell is the daughter of renowned Egyptologist Professor Bowell. During one of her father's many absences, Lillian befriends one of her father's many mummies, Imhotep IV. Lillian soon feels safe with the debonair mummy and Imhotep finds the lovely lady reminds him of his long-dead wife who was not mummified and therefore will not be around to enjoy eternity with her spouse. Together these two unlikely confidantes spend a day out on the town, strolling through the streets and parks of 19th century London.

Mayhem ensues when Imhotep gets into a drunken pub brawl and Lillian is forced to drug the police who come to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, the sedative turns out to be poison and Lillian is put on trial for murder. Both fathers attempt to come to the rescue of their besotted children, but the British justice system will not be perverted and the two lovers must find a way out on their own. Always zany, at times hilarious, this original tale rushes headlong toward a satisfying, if slightly cringe-worthy conclusion. The text is enchantingly abrupt and fast-paced, and the accompanying artwork is utterly beguiling. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
First Second is a wonderful imprint that's been publishing some of the most interesting graphic storytelling of the last several years in beautifully produced editions. This slender story, a translation of a book that appeared ten years ago in France, is no exception. At 64 pages, with generally six panels a page, it's a quick read, albeit a pretty strange one. Sort of Monty Python meets Preston Sturges meets Tales From the Crypt -- or something like that.

There's no way to summarize the story and do it justice, all you need to know is that it involves a romance (of sorts) between the beautiful daughter of an Egyptologist and the decidedly animated mummy of Imhotep IV. A day out together turns into a madcap farce involving drunken disorder, poisoning, element, multiple kidnappings, a pirate mummy, a court scene, a soggy Queen Victoria, surreal dream sequences, and various other outlandish elements.

It all moves along at a cracking pace with abrupt shifts in the story, so much so that I had to stop a few times and make sure I hadn't missed some transitional page along the way. For the most part, the translation manages to hit the right sassy, snappy, silly tone, with only a few misfires here and there. The artwork is really excellent and unusual, lovely pencilwork and watercolors with a great sense of palette. Guibert captures the Victorian era and brings it to life while also creating engaging characters with relatively simple features. The lettering is slightly disappointing, a lame faux-handprinted font called "Felt Tip" that is resized throughout depending on space. This a minor quibble though, and the book is perfect for the reader looking for an absurd and witty diversion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually loved this so much that the bad reviews make me angry. Slight? Inconsequential? Bah. I was delighted for an hour, and I'll return to this one many times. I only wish it had been printed in a larger format, the better to enjoy the gorgeous watercolors.
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Format: Paperback
A fellow graphic-novel fan recommended this one to me but I'm afraid I have to question his judgment. It's the old problem: Good writing with mediocre art, or vice versa. The setting is 19th-century London (re-imagined, sort of) and the main character is Pharaoh Imhotep IV, now a museum mummy, but somehow abroad in the streets in top hat and tails. He's escorting Lillian, the young woman of the title, who doesn't get out much, and they get caught up in an unintended murder, and Imhotep's relationship with his father (the III), and she gets kidnapped, and Imhotep (both of them) haves to rescue her, and there's a trial, and a jail-break, and Queen Victoria gets thrown in the Thames. Yeah.

It's all more than a little confusing, with the action coming out of nowhere in particular and going nowhere in particular, and the dialogue is rather clunky for the most part. It was first published in France in 1997, so maybe the translator is to blame. Guibert's artwork isn't bad, but there's not really much story to hang it on.
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Format: Paperback
The story is a weird but interesting one. I really enjoyed the beginning where the two of them walked the streets of London. Imhotep IV and Lillian bond over their marginalization and powerlessness in society. Both are loved by the professor, but more as possessions than as real people. They also both suffer from daddy issues.

After the opening though, I thought the story went downhill. The plot is a bit far-fetched, even for a fantasy story. The actions that the characters take at pretty much any point do not seem particularly likely. The perfect example of this is the kidnapping of Queen Victoria, which, while funny, serves absolutely no point. It is merely to be entertaining. The plot, such as it was, failed to wrap up in a way I found satisfying, as the big issue with the romance was entirely ignored.

I was also a bit bothered by the fact that the mummies were capable of just sloughing off their bandages and looking like real men again. If so, why wouldn't they just do that? Why live the life of a mummy, destined to be stuck under glass for a museum display, when you can just walk around like a normal man?
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