Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Broadcast graphic novel review

When first I saw this book I knew exactly what to expect.
After all, it is a tale set around the famous (and possibly mythical, but that’s another story) panic that arose when folks out there in radio land mistook Orson Well and the Mercury Theatre’s adaptation of War of the Worlds for a news report.
So here, I figured, we have a small group of country folks who were going to watch huddled in a barn for most of the book, terrified by the radio reports, jumping at shadows and possibly accidentally killing one of two of their number.
Yeah, I had it all figured out.
Trouble is, I could not have been more wrong.
While Wells himself makes a few appearances in this book, it quickly became clear that the broadcast was almost incidental to what was going on here, and that everything would probably have happened, or something close to it, eventually anyway.
There are a number of story strands running here, each expertly interwoven by writer Eric Hobbs, who has a formidable talent, and an ear for dialogue that is second to none.
The story of Marvin, a black factory worker, is particularly effecting and as it unfolds throughout the book in flashback. The reader finds their sympathies for the character veering wildly about the scale as each new revelation unfolds.
The only sticky point in the book, and it is a big point, is the art. I suspect, not having read any other reviews at the tie of writing this, that it is something that will divide readers.
Now, Noel Tuazon is a good artist, he has undoubted skill and an ability to conjure images with a few vague brush strokes- witness his depiction of New York, for example. However sometimes the art veers too much into the realm of the sketchy and the reader is left puzzling over what they are supposed to be looking at.

When it works, however, as with the page above, that art is masterfully atmospheric and oppressive and he can paint a characters expression with a few small pen strokes.
All in all, this is a very good book.
I am passionate about comics that show just what the medium is capable of. That can demonstrate just how clever and intricate and moving a tale can be told with comic pages, and this is one such book.
The Broadcast is published by NBM Comics.

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