I’m not entirely sure what to make of this graphic novel. At times it was strong; at times weak. Sometimes it was intriguing; other times dull.
My first impression upon finishing was actually, “Hmm…that didn’t seem typically ‘American.'” It didn’t read like most of the graphic novels that I’ve seen today. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But I couldn’t place just what it was that made it slightly unusual. Mythological aspect of the story seemed more ‘old-fashioned’ (and again, I don’t mean that in a bad way). It read like Edgar Rice Burroughs, or Robert E. Howard, or the Tales of King Arthur or Robin Hood, or … like something someone from France might write? Ok…so I didn’t immediately pick ‘French’ as the flavor for this book, but it didn’t surprise me to learn that the author and artist are French.
Let’s start with the art … it’s exactly right for a graphic novel. More than just comic book art, but not full-out paintings for each panel. The art tells a story … you could probably tell most of the tale without words, based on these visuals … and it’s never embarassing (please… there IS art in comic books and graphic novels that I find embarassingly bad). The story needs the art to become complete.
And so the story…. A simple journey. A boy in medieval England (?) decides to leave home to follow his sister, who doesn’t believe their father is actually dead, but trapped between the Earthly realm and another world. Along the way, the young boy encounters unusual characters and magical beasts. Unfortunately it too often feels like the boy is about to wake up from a dream, or he faces another unusual fantasy and you can’t help but wonder what the purpose of it is.
I wanted to like this more than I did. I stopped and started from the very beginning when the journey wasn’t making a lot of sense to me. it still didn’t make a lot of sense, but I did get to the decision that maybe that was okay.
The story needed the art to be complete. Without the art, purely as a story, this would have been too fantastical and childish to appeal to most. With the art, it became almost fun, but at the close of the back cover, I’m still left thinking I didn’t get much out of this, nor did I relish my time here.
Looking for a good book? If you like your stories full of art, this might work for you.
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William and the Lost Spirit
author: Gwen De Bonneval
artist: Matthieu Bonhomme
publisher: Graphic Universe
paperback, 152 pages