Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Bluffton

By Reboot

This week, I review the original graphic novel Bluffton written and illustrated by Matt Phelan and put out by Candlewick Press.  Matt Phelan hias previously a Scott O'Dell Award for his first graphic novel, The Storm in the Barn and was nominated for two Eisners for another graphic novel of his, Around the World.  Bluffton is slated to be released this month.

To start, this is historical fiction piece taking place in the early 19th century revolving around a young boy, Henry, in small town in Michigan not far from The Actor's Colony of Bluffton.  This is a time period I happen to already enjoy.  And to make it even better, it involves a young Buster Keaton and the vaudeville scene.  I enjoy going to vaudeville shows to this day so it would be hard for me not to dig this book.

Matt gets me again with the water colors.  I love water colors.  I have a commissioned art piece done in water color and they're just great.  Everything about the illustrations in this book works exceedingly well.

And then there's the story telling.  This story is jam packed with heart.  It was so sweet and wonderful and pulled me right in all the way to the end.  I had a hard time not getting a little choked up by the end (no spoilers, don't worry).

If I had to pick one thing that could have made it perfect, it have been maybe changing up the lettering a bit.  I understand hand lettering is long and tedious and it is somewhat ridiculous to expect Matt Phelan to hand letter an entire graphic novel.  However, there are at least a few points in the book where the digital lettering pulls you out of the absolutely beautiful aesthetic that Matt has graciously created for all of us to enjoy.  If anything, this critique is more of a praise for his art than anything else.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for adults and kids alike.  Anyone that enjoys historical fiction, this time piece in particular, or just a light hearted adventure with a little drama, then this is a story for you.  

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