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The Chocolate Mud Wyvern Presents
Graphic novel - The Arrival 
23rd-Oct-2008 10:06 pm
Arrival - Glowing Light

The Arrival

Shaun Tan


ISBN 0734406940


I read this fantastic graphic novel by Australian artist Shaun Tan last week, and the images seem to have burned themselves into my brain. It’s completely wordless, and follows the journey of one unnamed man as he leaves his homeland for another, hoping to build up a solid enough base for himself to be able to bring his wife and daughter over as well. The strange country he has moved to is slowly but surely unfolded before us, with its bizarre food, strange monetary system and all sorts of weird and wonderful things; we learn its customs as he does. The most charming things are the odd creatures that seem to attach themselves to humans in this country (see the picture above and my icon for this post for examples); they’re like familiars or perhaps Philip Pullman’s daemons. It’s all done in sepia tones, with photo-realistic humans but stylised animals and fantastical buildings; I think the artwork reminds me of Escher’s prints, as there’s a relationship between objects that’s a bit different from the norm (to say the least). And a few segments reminded me of Miyazaki’s Nausicaa (especially the bit with the giants – robots? – rampaging). But even though this is all very beautifully imagined and carefully rendered, the artist’s focus is on the universal emotions that accompany immigration; apparently he spent months painstakingly for researching this book, and it is reflected in the very real feeling to the immigration procedures that greet the Immigrant, and his worried, puzzled face. The Arrival is delicate and wistful and strange, and (I think) very special. So go forth! Raid your local library and bookseller! I’m definitely going to scout myself a copy of this lovely book. 

These images are used with all due respect to the artist, and only to give an example of his work:


ETA: I lose my badge: I misspelled the author's name (now corrected)!
23rd-Oct-2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
Ooh, this looks really neat.
23rd-Oct-2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Hmm, if you can find it definitely give it a go; it was really lovely (even my mother liked it very much, and she's not one for graphic art). And the very clever ielfling has posted his website link below; it's worth a good browse.
23rd-Oct-2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
I'm a huge Shaun Tan fan, and would recommend checking out his other books as well (I've got a couple of them next time you visit, 'The Lost Thing' and 'The Red Tree'). I recently found his website too, which is lovely (http://www.shauntan.net/) and you can buy prints on it... ok, so I don't have the cash, but it's definitely on my 'one day' list... 'Tales from Outer Suburbia' looks gorgeous: 'water buffaloes are like that; they hate talking.'
23rd-Oct-2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
Whoopsie, thanks for letting me know I'd got his name wrong. Bad librarian!
I happened on his book by pure chance; I was having a good old browse of the graphic novel shelves at my local library for the first time in ages and decided to give it a go. I love it when you make wonderful yet accidental discoveries like that :-)
That website is totally awesome, by the way. Can he please come and do some murals at my house? Some of his stuff reminds me of Brian Froud and his designs for Labyrinth, and some of the colours he uses in his murals also remind me of Kinuko Craft, who does all those gorgeous covers for the Patricia McKillip books (I'm 99% certain you read those as well, right?). You're absolutely right; his prints must go onto the 'one day' list! And I would love to borrow some more of his books! :-)
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