By Laramie Martinez
Three years ago this month I read Moby Dick for the first time. As a former English major it was one of those books which you had to read to have any sort of respect in the eyes of older English scholars. It’s a strange, wonderful book, surprisingly funny and informative (granted most of the information is outdated whale facts) and it was one of the best things I read that year. Naturally, when I saw dark horse coming out with their adaptation by Christophe Chaboute, I knew this one was going to be one of my reviews for the week.
I’m going to start with my one warning for the book. If you’re a Moby Dick aficionado, then this book will probably be severely lacking for you. As most people know, Moby Dick has some heft to it, approx 350 to 400 pages depending on the edition, so if you expect that this 257 page graphic novel will be able to cover EVERYTHING, please take a moment to adjust your expectations. That being said, this book does a great job of covering the meat of the story, the part most people think of when they think of the book.
I was impressed by what Chaboute has done here. The graphic novel feels very much like a collection of short stories, or scenes, separated by the vast emptiness of the ocean. The graphic novel provides the feeling of drifting between scenes, the art allowing for a lot of open space to occupy sections. I read once about how in sequential art space is equivalent to time, and the more space there is the more the audience interprets it as time passing. Chaboute has mastered this effect, making a graphic novel which is packed with story feel like it is effortlessly floating by.
Going further into the art, it is a perfect fit of this book. It’s gloomy, stark, and a little rough around the edges. The characters are well done, with expressive faces and distinct personalities etched upon them. Ahab looks like how he feels, the same can be said of Starbuck, Queequeg, and of course Ishmael. Moby Dick itself is the perfect representation of swirling battered monster of the deep. Every time the monster is on panel Chaboute makes sure that the beast is portrayed in the proper dimensions. Epic Scale.
This is a good starting point for anyone interested in the story of Moby Dick, or for any fan who just want to see the classic story brought to the comic medium. I recommend it for anyone with a love of classics or looking for a good fish story.
Writer: Christophe Chaboute
Artist: Christophe Chaboute
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics