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   "Mezolith" by Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank, published by David Fickling Books
   Prehistory in the making...    (09.04.10)


   Are you sitting comfortably? - Well, you won't be. Not after
   you've read Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank's Mezolith
This amazing graphic storybook takes you back in time, way back,
   to a prehistoric realm where a small tribe of hunter-gatherers pursue
   their harsh lives through the seasons. They hunt, they fish, and
   they toil each day in a bid to stay fed and warm. And inbetween
   their endeavours they tell stories, in an attempt to make sense
   of the world around them. At the heart of the tribe is young
   Poika, a boy on the verge of manhood, who must undergo daily
   trials and tribulations as he discovers his place in the order
   of things. Life and death go hand-in-hand each day. The
   landscape is stark and fleetingly beautiful. But there is also
   an ever-present ugliness, lurking in the shadows, skulking in
   the trees, and it will waste no oppurtunity to catch hold of
   the tribe and drag them towards its filthy maw...

   "Mezolith" is, quite simply, breathtaking. It immerses you so
   completely in its subject matter you can smell the hide, and
   the trailing smoke of its prehistoric camp fires. You can feel the
   wind teasing you, shifting to the East as the first flakes of Winter 
   arrive in its wake. And you can taste the ever-present fear. Fear
   of the dark, of the unknown, of death, and of the horrors that
   crawl from your nightmares. 

   "Don't move, Poika.
    There's nothing to fear..."

This fantastic strip first appeared in a serialised form within the
   the pages of "The DFC", David Fickling's ambitious weekly comic
   book which folded just so perilously short of its first birthday.
   Now he's put his name to a library that collects those strips into
   standalone volumes (more here), the idea being to challenge the
   myth that we Brits won't buy bande dessinée style books.
   "Mezolith" is actually the second DFC Library release, following
   Dave Shelton's hardboiled-but-softcentred dog noire anthology
   Good Dog, Bad Dog, which we'll take a look at soon.

   But right here, right now, we have "Mezolith" which has jumped
   to the top of the pile. This is a dark and challenging read. Poika's
   world is harsh. And the tales that are told by his elders are even
   harsher. They are nightmarish, and there is imagery here that
   will curdle the reader's stomach. But you just can't look away.
   Adam Brockbank's artwork is so completely immersive. His
   panels play with the light and shadow of the days, and the
   minutiae of this stoneage realm. He reveals just enough to
   enthrall us, and hides the worst horrors in taunting shadows.
   We can fill in the terrible gaps for ourselves. And all around,
   there's Ben Haggarty's language, and his marvellous storytelling
   drawing you deeper in to Poika's world, exploring the tribe's way
   of thinking, their train of thought...

   "Now, littley one, sweet feed me honey
    and tell me why you come?"

   If you've got kids, or you're simply an avid reader of Young Adult
   fiction, you might be aware of the works of Michelle Paver. She's
   recently received great acclaim for her prehistoric Chronicles of
   Ancient Darkness. Well, this akin to a graphic novel version of
   those stories. And the only flaw this reader can find is a teeny
   tiny one that lurks in the presentation. You see, the book has
   light green harlequin endpapers which sport that bubbly DFC logo.
   It's obviously a presentational trait for the whole DFC Library range,
   and that's absoloutely fine for a strip like "Good Dog, Bad Dog".
   But here it sits uncomfortably against the subject matter of the
   book, and those jet black Mignola-esque interludes that divide
   the main content (which, by the way, are terrific). And it means
   that the casual book browser might just dismiss this magnificent
   work as being a mere "kids book". But it isn't. Truly, it's not.
   This is a work that lingers long in the mind, with hypnotic and
   disturbing imagery that clings to the back of your eyes and
   returns to haunt you in the wee hours. Young or old, big or
   small, you'll be beguiled and petrified. And frankly, if this
   doesn't break open the market for UK-created graphic fiction,
   well, then nothing ever will...
                                                  More: The DFC Library


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