Wednesday 10 March 2010

Review: MeZolith by Ben Haggarty & Adam Brockbank

The world of MeZolith awaits.

10,000 years ago, the Kansa tribe live on the western shores of the North Sea Basin, where danger is never far away. Each season brings new adventure, each hunt has its risks, and each grim encounter with the neighbouring tribe is fraught with threats. Poika, a boy on the verge of manhood, must play his part and trust the strength and wisdom of his elders. This is a tale of beasts and beauty, man, magic and . . . horror.

Before I say anything about the book, I just want you to read the short biography about Ben Haggarty, the writer of MeZolith, as found on the DFC Library website:

"Ben Haggarty is a teller of traditional tales – famous for dynamic performances and vivid composition. He holds in his mind a repertoire of over 350 carefully researched, repaired, recombined and recreated folktales, fairy tales and myths; some are 3 minutes long, some are 3 hours long! For more than a quarter of a century he has been a pioneer of the revival of professional storytelling in Britain, telling stories to adults and children."

Every word of this short bio shows throughout MeZolith, the second book scheduled for release as apart of The DFC Library. Imagine living 10,000 years ago. Picture sitting around the settlement's fire in the evening, listening to tales told by elders of the tribe, or the tribe's master story teller. You would hear folk tales passed down from the generations that came before, and maybe, should you survive the myriad dangers of the world you are living in, you may one day become one of those storytellers, passing the tales onto the next generations. Now jump back to 2010, open this book, and you will see that Ben Haggarty, assisted by Adam Brockbank's stunning artwork, has done just that in graphic novel form. This really is the work of a master storyteller, sharing mythic folk tales about swan princesses, a demonic flesh-eating baby and the raven child.

Interwoven between these folk tales we are also given the opportunity to spectate on the day to day live of the Kansas, with the focus of this being a boy called Poika, desperate to become a man in the eyes of his people. We see the mistakes he makes, often causing greater risk for his family and fellow tribe members, as he strives to make a place for himself in this harsh and brutal world, until finally he comes of age. Poika is just like any young teenage boy today, wanting to be recognised as an adult by his elders, but also wanting to do things in his own way; even though the story it set 10,000 years ago it is still very easy to relate to his hopes and fears through the way his character is portrayed bu Messrs Haggarty and Brockbank.

Adam Brockbank's artwork is very different to much that we see in graphic novels these days. There is an almost photo realistic quality to it at times. The colours are very hypnotic in the way that they draw the reader into the story, and they complement the storytelling to perfection. In the day to day scenes the colours are very natural and earthy, perfectly depicting the times these people are living in, yet during the folk tale scenes, and especially the more spooky and horrific parts involving dark magic and the stuff of nightmares, the colouring is used to deliver a real sense of menace.

As part of the original DFC subscription comic this was originally written for children. However, younger readers may find some of it a little disturbing, and other parts even a little tedious due to their complexity. However, the majority of teenagers will be mature enough to appreciate the quality of the storytelling and the beauty of the artwork, and how they work together to create these magical tales. I feel that the appeal may not end there either - I left my teenage years behind a long time ago and yet I love this book. MeZolith is scheduled for a release date of 1st April and I am sure it will fly off the shelves. A sample of the book can be seen at this website.  

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