Monday, July 14, 2008

Graphic Novel Monday:The Professor's Daughter, by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert

The Professor's Daughter, by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert. Published 2007 by First Second. Fiction. Translated from the French.

This has to be one of the weirdest graphic novels I've read in a while.
The Professor's Daughter isn't bizarre or surreal or idiosyncratic, but it feels a little rough around the edges nonetheless.

It's about an archaeologist's daughter who falls in love with a mummy, is kidnapped by the mummy's mummified father and has a quick series of adventures including a murder trial, a fight between the mummified father and the archaeologist one, and an episode in which Queen Victoria is tossed into the Thames.

Got all that? Good for you. The book has its merits- the artwork is beautiful, inky and fluid and done in a moody palette of blues, greens and yellows. The characters are basically pencil-sketch stereotypes but the types work together nicely. And the story bumps along quickly, to a very silly and morbid conclusion.

Having said that, I didn't really like it. The beginning was abrupt and I wish there had been a little more exposition to set up the premise. I found the characters shallow and the action confused me and had me wishing for a slightly less bumptious and slapstick approach to plotting. There's no adult content and it would probably be fine for kids, and I think I'd only suggest it for kids interested in mummy stories or hard-core fans of Joann Sfar. Which was the reason I picked it up in the first place. Otherwise it's a pretty marginal choice for most graphic novel readers.

Rating: BORROW

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yeah, this was my least-favorite Sfar of all I've read so far. I think your review sums up how I feel.

In fact, I was so blase about it, it's still sitting where my cleaning lady moved it back in May. I ought to get it moving, I know. But ... blase.

Andi said...

The story certainly sounds like it's lacking, but I would love to get hold of this one for the illustrations. It looks beautiful. Will have to see if I can interlibrary loan it!