Monday, January 4, 2010

Graphic Novel Monday: Kaspar, by Diane Obomsawin

Kaspar, by Diane Obomsawin. Published 2008 by Drawn & Quarterly. Graphica.

Kaspar tells the story of one Kaspar Hauser, a German man who showed up out of the blue and claimed to have been raised in a cellar with nothing but a toy horse for a companion. Diane Obomsawin bases her telling on Hauser's own memoir, and recounts his story up through his strange death by stabbing in 1833 at the approximate age of 21.

Obomsawin's style of both art and prose is bare and simple; the same black and white line drawing style is used throughout the book, characterized by simple panels and iconic, stylized figures. Kaspar is taken in by different people who try to variously educate and exploit him as the truth behind his claims remains a mystery. The book eschews any sense of the controversy that surrounded Hauser's life and claims in favor of a plain retelling of the story from his point of view. The simple artwork is a fitting accompaniment to the unadorned storytelling.

I enjoyed reading Kaspar; it's such a strange little story and a very unusual window in the world of early 19th century European culture. It contains some sexual references that probably render it unsuitable for children but I think teens would enjoy it. If I say too much more, my review will be longer than the book itself, so if you're interested in short, off-the-beaten-path graphic novels, go check out Kaspar.


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