WARNING: While I have tried to be circumspect in this review, mild spoilers do feature!
Written by Benjamin Read, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, coloured by André May, and lettered by Jim Campbell
Publisher: Improper Books
Out: Limited, indie release on 27th February, and will be available from Page 45, Travelling Man, Gosh! and Orbital Comics stores in the UK.
The Book: Porcelain A Gothic Fairy Tale is set within a world that’s a darkly magical echo of our own. It follows the story of a street urchin, known as Child, who leaves the cold streets of a snowy city behind when she climbs the high wall into the Porcelain Maker’s secret garden in a bid to steal whatever she can.
The Porcelain Maker discovers Child trespassing but, amused by her audacity, he offers her the chance to stay. He’s a lonely man, kept company only by his alchemically-powered automata, and he and Child form an unlikely friendship.
The Review: To say I've been wanting to read this graphic novel for months is an understatement. Ever since I first saw and blogged about this project, I've been eager to see the completed tale, and I'm pleased - no, delighted - the final production lives up to expectation.
While it's the truly stunning art of Chris Wildgoose that first draws you to the tale - very loosely based on Beauty and the Beast - some of the best comic art I've seen of late has to be matched by a strong story and, for me, Benjamin Read delivers. From the moment the gruff but ultimately kindly Porcelain Maker - a man troubled by numerous demons - rescues Child from his artificial guard dogs, Gog and Magog, through to a grim finale, Porcelain should capture even the hardest of hearts with its exquisite characterisation and carefully developed plot, laid out with the precision of a Victorian watchmaker but told with enormous emotion.
The scenes featuring these scary living mannequins are truly haunting, and lead to Child breaking the Maker's rules in such a way as to end in disaster.
With this release, Improper Books don't just deliver a beautiful, tragic, gothic fairy tale: they set high standards in terms of production and content, on a par with the best of French bande dessinees and the work of ground-breaking British artists such as Bryan Talbot. The quality of this title cannot, in my opinion, be understated, on so many levels.
Needless to say, I would urge you to track down a copy on release and I sincerely hope you enjoy the story as much as I have.
• A free digital promo of the first 12 pages of Porcelain is now available to view and download via: http://www.improperbooks.com/projects/porcelain
Improper Books is a comic and graphic novel imprint focusing on creator owned stories that have a touch of the fairy tale, the Gothic or the macabre.
Benjamin Read writes comics and makes films including the True Grit and Super 8 comic adaptations, and also wrote and produced the films Warhouse and 500 Miles North.
Chris Wildgoose is an illustrator, and conceptual and storyboard artist. Northern born, but London based, Chris made his comic debut with the official True Grit and Super 8 comics.
Porcelain © Benjamin Read & Chris Wildgoose. Images courtesy Improper Books