Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The Tale Of One Bad Rat (Bryan Talbot 1996)
Bryan Talbot became known for Luther Arkwright & his sci-fi, vertigo fantasy work. All excellent stuff and wonderful examples of a creator of great skill, but very genre limited. But with the publication of The Tale of One Bad Rat it became obvious he was capable of an entirely different tale.
The Tale Of One Bad Rat is the beautiful & moving story of Helen, a young runaway, abused by family, beaten & broken by life. She has just two good things in her young life, her pet rat & her love of the books of Beatrix Potter. These two things carry the young, injured Helen through her abusive home to dismal squats in London until taking her finally to the landscaped splendour of the lake district. It is here where she has to come to terms with her shattered life.
Talbot creates both real beauty & real sadness within the book as he takes the reader along with Helen on a journey to find a home, a sense of place & true happiness. Talbot's art rose to another level with this book, his highly detailed pencils were allowed to flow a little more and the artwork becomes more fluid & expressive, ideal for this touching, human story.
If you don't know Bryan Talbot's work this is a great place to start, if you're an Arkwright fan, this is a wonderful deviation from what you've come to expect & whoever you are, existing fan or not, this is a perfect example of the sort of story comics should be telling. Quite marvelous.
Bryan's latest work Alice in Sunderland will hopefully be out later this year. Although not the most prolific of writer/artists Bryan's always worth waiting for and I for one cannot wait to see the finished series.
The official Bryan Talbot fan-page (written and maintained by old Nostalgia & Comics staffer James) here, Wikipedia entry here