Babble, a graphic novel Published by Com.x
Writer: Lee Robson
Artist: Bryan Coyle
Letterer: Eddie Deighton
I read this in Pdf form, a medium I do not like reading in. I am reviewing it as such and at times I may compare the experience to reading a paper product.
Firstly, I had never heard of this book before reading it. So I flicked through the pages of the Pdf to get a feel of what I would have thought flicking through the pages of a graphic novel in a comic book store. I saw a female lead character and what seemed to be zombies, though they didn’t look very dead. I didn’t get any feel for the comic, I didn’t connect with it.
When I started reading on my PC I found the experience quite uncomfortable and in the end chose to transfer the Pdf to my Kindle Ap on my Android phone. Reading it on my phone was much more comfortable even with the much smaller screen. I’ve only just started reading books in this medium.
So I started from page 1 again. Soon I found I was engrossed, despite the oddness of reading a comic on a hand held device.
Carrie Hartnoll, the main character, is a British woman who has left her old life behind after being offered a research job in an Ivy League College in USA by her ex-boyfriend Professor Alan Curtis. Alan was clearly her lecturer at University.
Carrie is first seen alone on a hillside at night, a man attacks her and at first sight as I said earlier I took this to be a zombie but I soon realised I was wrong. This man, among many others, had a speech bubble but it was blank.
We learn that the research Carrie is involved in is experiencing problems. The original head researcher has committed suicide and destroyed most of the research. Alan needs Carrie to find missing information before funding is cut. the other main characters are Si, a research assistant and Vanessa, Alan’s wife.
The characters are believable. Carrie is rather naive and over trusting. Si is gay and apparently the late Professor Cartwright was homophobic. Alan is slightly predictable, but that isn’t necessarily a flaw of the writer, more it is a flaw of the character itself – which is fine, just as naivety is an acceptable flaw for our heroine.
The story is part in the present and part in flash back. The flashbacks are in order and eventually catch up with the present. So we learn more of the ‘why’ in flashback while the present is mostly action. Flashback and present are clearly distinguished using the traditional way, different colours and shading. The past uses black, white and blue. The present is mostly in yellow, browns and black. Time lapse within the flashback is also shown by characters being in different clothing from panel to panel.
The panel count and layout varies from page to page and mostly are of regular shape, only in the first chapter are angled panels used, each time in scenes of violence. At times there are insets and panel bleeding. The artist did a good job at leaving room for lettering but at times the word count was a little heavy, the letter however did a fine job of coping with this.
There are plenty of unexpected turns of events in the story, indeed my own assumptions were proven wrong in more ways than the lack of zombies in the story. Though I would say in a way this is actually a twist on a zombie story.
A very good story, well illustrated and very well lettered. Given my dislike of reading on electronic media and the fact I ended up engrossed I think this book succeeded in what it was supposed to do, it entertained me and made me wonder what happened after the final panel. Well worth a read.