Saturday, September 26, 2009
Amulet: Book One
Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet
I'm a regular reader of the webcomic Penny Arcade, if you're not, you should be! Last week they were having a series of guest artists, and one particularly good one, you can see it here, was done by a familiar name, Kazu Kibuishi. I've been sitting on this graphic novel, Amulet, for some time, I just never got around to reading it. After my Penny Arcade wakeup call, I went and dug out Amulet, dusted it off, and read it cover to cover.
As an aside, I love graphic novels, and by extension, collected trade paper backs. You get a whole story arc in one convenient package. Single comic issues are great, but being able to sit back and take in the big picture at once is appealing. Amulet was no exception.
I can't help but draw many parallels between Amulet and the films of one of my favorite creators, Hayao Miyazaki, and no, it's not because they're both Asian. Amulet contains many facets that you would find in a Miyazaki film; a strong and young central protagonist female, whimsical creatures and fantastic flying machines, machinery and technology tempered with a Victorian bent, and of course, giant, transforming walking houses.
The young girl, Em, suffers through a family tragedy early in the beginning. Along with her surviving mother and younger brother they try to heal their emotional wounds and move to the country to the family home belonging to Em's great-grandfather.
They set out to clean and explore their new home and find that great grand dad was something of a eccentric genius with drawing of the unexplained, tomes, and mounted animals of unknown origins on the walls. A strange, shadowy figure watches them from afar. As chance would have it, Em discovers a secret latch that reveals to her a mystical...amulet, which she puts on. That night, they hear a noise from the basement (never a good sign) and go to investigate. Their mother is abducted by a tentacled beast and instantly swallowed whole, she can be seen screaming through portholes in its side. Navin, her brother is also captured, but he is able to wriggle free. As the beast takes flight, the siblings follow suit and give chase.
Below the basement they find a door, a portal, to another world. What is known on the surface world doesn't hold true below, and they find this out by encountering all manner of flora and fauna that is strange and alien to them. The shadowy figure continues to pursue them, and they eventually come to a great house on a hill in the center of a lake. Here is where their adventure really begins, as they meet who lives in the house, and take off on the second leg of their adventure to save their mother and return to their home on the surface.
Amulet is a great read, and goes incredibly fast. The story is obviously a prelude to what promises to be many more to come, but sets everything up nicely as a "chapter one". The artwork is simply fantastic, and would almost make it worthwhile just for the visuals alone. The price point is attractive as well, being just under ten bucks and can be picked up pretty much anywhere. I enjoyed it, and there's a good bet you will too.