Friday, 2 August 2019

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 2nd August 2019: "Stig and Tilde: Vanisher's Island" by Max De Radigues (NoBrow / Flying Eye Books)

As ever, we cast an envious eye over the sheer glory that is the Belgian and French comics scene. Today's comic / graphic novel of the week hails from the creative pen of Max De Radigues, a Belgian author-illustrator who has quietly been building up a colossal and well deserved highly respected reputation as a comic creator for all ages.

Though you might have seen some of his more grown-up stuff translated into English, we're delighted to see NoBrow / Flying Eye Books bringing the first of his collected Stig and Tilde adventures in translated form over the channel / Atlantic (with more to follow, SQUEEEE!)

In "Stig and Tilde: Vanisher's Island" two intrepid and adventurous twins hop on a dinghy and head to a desert island, as part of a rites of passage.

Traditionally kids would set off every summer at a certain point in their lives to spend an entire year fending for themselves.

For Stig and Tilde though, tradition has turned into a month away at a summer camp on an island - one that even has Internet! Wow!

Unfortunately for them, their journey takes an unexpected turn as they both end up locked in the under-deck of their tiny boat during a storm, and soon they end up shipwrecked on the wrong island.

An uninhabited island.

Or so they thought...

Soon though, Tilde is surprised to find a boy there, a strange boy who claims to have been stranded there years before, but as the two begin to form a close bond, Tilde realises this is no ordinary boy...

I have to stop myself from spoiling too much of this utterly fantastic graphic novel, suffice to say that right here is a prime example of how the Belgians and the French are making us look like complete amateurs over here when it comes to producing "dark" children's books.

We know full well that kids are drawn to darker stories, particularly ones where it's blatantly obvious the writer is setting out with the intention of creating something truly memorable (perhaps for some kids a bit too memorable, even C, fairly tough when it comes to dark themes, had quite a few moments where she gasped out loud reading this. "Did they really just do that in this book? WOW!")

Ultimately, in the grand tradition of other works of Belgian genius like Tintin, this is absolutely rivetting stuff from the get-go, with an original and thrumming pulse that at first recalls the stories of Arthur Ransome or Enid Blyton, but then drenches this relatively simple but utterly fantastic tale in a lovely coating of dark black, like a glorious bar of Belgian 100% chocolate (and just as addictive).

It probably sounds like we're going a bit over the top with the praise, but miss this one at your peril.

We're really hoping that all of Max's books are eventually translated (we already know a second is on the way, this time with our twins once again shipwrecked - but surrounded by wolves! Eeek!)

Move over Hilda, it's time for Stig and Tilde!

Sum this book up in a sentence: The perfect adventuresome and beautifully dark comic read, absolutely brilliant in every way and totally refreshing after a diet of sickly sweet 'kid' comics.

"Stig and Tilde: Vanishers Island" by Max De Radigues" is out now, published by NoBrow / Flying Eye Books (kindly supplied for review).