If you pick up one book and only one book this week, make it Porcelain: Bone China. I say that knowing full well how many other reviews and books I’ve reviewed this week and while there are some good and great issues, this is something better. The writing tells you what it is, creates something new and then twists the ending to be the perfect blend of old and new. The writing also blends genres making it a wonderful hybrid, but manages to be a credit to each genre. It’s a book I both desperately want to talk about, but then also speak about in vague terms. We’ll see if excitement or salesmanship wins.
We’re thrown into the world. To be honest I wondered if there was something I had missed, but I didn’t care because the story grabbed me instantly. It begins with a conversation and introduction to the three major players in our story the Lady, the Captain and the General. That is the only names we need know them by and the story is wonderful for doing that, but I’ll explain that later.
They’re meeting because the General wants porcelain men for her war. We get a glimmer of understanding about the porcelain people/creatures as we see servants standing around the Lady’s house and two big cats sitting at either side of her desk. The conversation turns sour because the Lady doesn’t want to sell the porcelain men as soldiers. Later we learn more about the Lady when she visits the porcelain versions of her parents. Now… here’s where I wonder if I should tell you what I had to learn from reading the book or pretend that you’ve read the first volume that I didn’t know existed until after my second paragraph. Ah hell, think of the porcelain as a zombie virus but without the desire to eat people. When you die, everyone turns into porcelain, but you’re broken and not quite yourself. The Lady is trying to figure out how to fix people so that she can fix her father.
After that the Lady steps out for the night and slums it. She’s very rich and well known so going somewhere to blend in and dance is special to her. Here she runs into the Captain again and things don’t go well. She leaves early and runs into the police who hit her up for a bribe for being out past curfew. The Captain tries to intervene on her behalf which makes her reveal herself when she uses her rune to control the porcelain cats. She decks the Captain.
From there he begins courting her. Sending flowers and trying to get her attention. The Lady’s Chaperone encourages the encounter, but the Lady isn’t looking for love. The Captain breaks in and they begin talking as she walks him to the front gate… to throw him out. He invites her dancing and she has a hard time saying no.
Leaving you here gets you through what’s basically the third chapter and nothing of the meat of the story. From here… everything gets better and more complicated. The relationships, the General’s quest for the porcelain men and the Lady’s personal journey. Oh her personal journey. It gives me chills just thinking about it, which isn’t an overused phrase I’m using I actually got the chills.
The story essentially tells you that it’s a storybook. It even pokes holes in the “happily ever after” ending that books like that have. That is how it is and isn’t like a storybook. It uses some of the tropes of the genre, but then flips everything for its finale, but then the ending… well it’s not exactly happily ever after, but when you read it, you should be able to see just how similar the concepts are. That’s the brilliance of the writing. It is and isn’t the thing that it is (hopefully that makes sense).
The story is wonderful. I can’t talk about all of it without spoiling most of it and so I’ll leave it there and move on to the art because it brings this story to life. The design is skilled and you can tell by the supplement in the back that it was organized like an animation with its designs and really it’s look. The style is beautiful. I can see all of the influences on the art, but I dare not say that one is more dominate than the other. It’s just visually impressive that way. The design and aesthetics of the world really make it stand out and have a manga esque quality to it. The Captain ended up having my favorite design, his distinct tattoos again reminded me of something you’d see in a manga. There was an innocents to his character that poured out from his design.
The coloring is what seals the deal on the art. The coloring is hands down some of the best I’ve seen as of late. If it were an animation, it would be tremendous looking. It was earthy and bright, flat and yet vibrant. The coloring gave breath to the art which brought the story to life.
I’m not joking when I say that if you buy one book this week, make it this one. You may get to parts and say, “I know what’s going to happen.” And you could be right. That doesn’t matter. The journey is so damn good that you’ll push those thoughts out just to read more. To experience more of this wonderful and magical world.
Porcelain: Bone China Writer: Benjamin Read Artist: Chris Wildgoose Colorist: André May Publisher: Improper Books Price: $22.99 Release Date: 2/10/16 Format: OGN; Print/Digital