Graphic Novel Review – Book of Da
Book of Da is a self-published graphic novel that found funding for its printing and cloth binding through Kickstarter in 2013. It was written by Mike McCubbins and cleverly illustrated by Matt Bryan.
An air breathing fish man evangelizes to a bunch of other air breathing fishy folks. He speaks of the story of a diver who came across a four faced sea god while exploring the depths of the gigantic, world-covering ocean. The diver offends the pyramid-shaped squid by not returning a gesture, and the diver is instructed by baleen to spend years travelling to an ancient submerged city in order to set the squid’s mood at ease so that the oceans will calm. The preacher telling the story continues to add theatrics in pantomime while convincing the crowd to offer gifts at the nearby temple.
Matt Bryan offers up the true substance of the novel with his inventive inking. Since so much of the story takes place in the dark deep end of the ocean, much of the book’s pages are covered in black, with light emanating from the diver’s glowing helmet. Many of the sea creatures that the diver encounters can only be seen in a few white contours which represent the light reflecting off of their bodies. Other parts of the novel are fully lit, such as the section where the preacher is telling his story, but they don’t hold up as well as the little hints of the terrifying creatures. That is what makes thalassophobia so intriguing and mythical after all, the fear of both the depth and the concealing abilities of the ocean, combined with the gigantic horrors held beneath.
To reveal much of anything about the overarching theme of the book would be to reveal too much about the story. I suppose I can only hint at it by suggesting the sort of people this story may appeal to. People who pay attention to continuity and detail, and people who are into mythology will enjoy the commentary offered by this story.
The book is sort of like a Tarantino movie in the sense that it doesn’t really pay off until the end and much of the rest can seem like cool, visual filler until the story is done telling itself. At that point, everything comes together and makes sense. Book of Da is something that demands to be read twice, despite the fact that it isn’t very complex. So for a short project that has a lot to offer, it works perfectly. Give it a read.