Prehistory in the making... (09.04.10)
Are you sitting comfortably? - Well, you won't be. Not
you've read Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank's Mezolith
amazing graphic storybook takes you back in time, way back,
to a prehistoric realm where a small tribe of hunter-gatherers
their harsh lives through the seasons. They hunt, they fish,
they toil each day in a bid to stay fed and warm. And
their endeavours they tell stories, in an attempt to
of the world around them. At the heart of the tribe is young
Poika, a boy on the verge of manhood, who must undergo
trials and tribulations as he discovers his place in
of things. Life and death go hand-in-hand each day.
landscape is stark and fleetingly beautiful. But there
an ever-present ugliness, lurking in the shadows, skulking
the trees, and it will waste no oppurtunity to catch hold
the tribe and drag them towards its filthy maw...
is, quite simply, breathtaking. It immerses you so
completely in its subject matter you can smell the hide, and
the trailing smoke of its prehistoric camp fires. You can
wind teasing you, shifting to the East as the first
flakes of Winter
arrive in its wake. And you can taste the ever-present fear.
of the dark, of the unknown, of death, and of the horrors
crawl from your nightmares.
"Don't move, Poika.
There's nothing to fear..."
fantastic strip first appeared in a serialised form within the
the pages of "The DFC", David Fickling's ambitious
book which folded just so perilously short of its first
Now he's put his name to a library that collects those
standalone volumes (more here),
the idea being to challenge the
myth that we Brits won't buy bande dessinée style books.
"Mezolith" is actually the second DFC Library
Dave Shelton's hardboiled-but-softcentred dog noire anthology
Dog, Bad Dog,
which we'll take a look at soon.
But right here, right now, we have "Mezolith"
which has jumped
to the top of the pile. This is a dark and challenging read.
world is harsh. And the tales that are told by his elders
harsher. They are nightmarish, and there is imagery here
will curdle the reader's stomach. But you just can't look
Brockbank's artwork is so completely immersive. His
panels play with the light and shadow of the days, and
minutiae of this stoneage realm. He reveals just enough to
enthrall us, and hides the worst horrors in taunting
We can fill in the terrible gaps for ourselves. And
there's Ben Haggarty's language, and his marvellous storytelling
drawing you deeper in to Poika's world, exploring the
of thinking, their train of thought...
"Now, littley one, sweet feed me honey
and tell me why you come?"
If you've got kids, or you're simply an avid reader
of Young Adult
fiction, you might be aware of the works of Michelle
recently received great acclaim for her prehistoric
Well, this akin to a graphic novel version of
those stories. And the only flaw this reader can find
is a teeny
tiny one that lurks in the presentation. You see, the book
light green harlequin endpapers which sport that bubbly DFC
It's obviously a presentational trait for the whole
DFC Library range,
and that's absoloutely fine for a strip like "Good
Dog, Bad Dog".
But here it sits uncomfortably against the subject matter
book, and those jet black Mignola-esque interludes that
the main content (which, by the way, are terrific). And it
that the casual book browser might just dismiss this magnificent
work as being a mere "kids book". But it isn't.
Truly, it's not.
This is a work that lingers long in the mind, with hypnotic
disturbing imagery that clings to the back of your eyes and
returns to haunt you in the wee hours. Young or old, big
small, you'll be beguiled and petrified. And frankly,
doesn't break open the market for UK-created graphic
well, then nothing ever will...