Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert

Ancient love, modern death, and a hitherto unknown adventure of Queen Victoria

This graphic novel is a fascinating - if incomplete - work of art. Imhotep IV, an ancient mummy, falls in love with the dashing Victorian beauty, Lillian Bowell, daughter of Professor Bowell who owns Imhotep.

Together, they adventure across London and (partway) to Cairo, evading police, dead bodies, and Imhotep and Lillian's respective fathers. There is a sly humor throughout the story, as well as a sense of vigour and life but these qualities cannot completely cover the wistful melancholy of parted lovers that pervades the tale.

My only quibble is that the beginning is too abrupt - why is Imhotep suddenly awake? I like my backstory explained, thanks very much. Apart from that, this is an elegant, odd, little gem.

The art is exquisite, the elongated figures create an air of dashing elegance and urgency as events pile up one after another. The earth tones of the art make the story feel a bit like an old black and white film, which is the perfect atmosphere for this tale.

Verdict: This won't have massive popular appeal, but teens with a quirky sense of humor will enjoy it and you can broaden it's audience by emphasizes the romantic angle; "the next big thing isn't angels or zombies...it's mummies!!" An additional purchase.

ISBN: 159643130x; Published March 2007 by First Second; Borrowed from the library; Added to my personal wishlist

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