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The Tale of One Bad Rat h/c

The Tale of One Bad Rat h/c The Tale of One Bad Rat h/c The Tale of One Bad Rat h/c

The Tale of One Bad Rat h/c back

Bryan Talbot


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Homeless & Hungry - Please Help.

As the book opens young Helen Potter is living rough on the streets of London. It's no easy option: cold, hungry and penniless, Helen is plagued by memories of maternal callousness and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. But she clings to life as she fends for her rat until she's caught in the middle of a mugging then identified later on. On the run from the police and with her pet rat left mauled to death by a cat, Helen decides it's now or never and sets off on a journey north to the Lake District, home to her heroine Beatrix Potter. There she's taken in by pub landlords Ruth and Sam who nurture her with a loving tenderness she had never experienced at home. Step by painful step and not without set-backs, Helen roams the countryside with its breath-takingly beautiful mountains and lakes, struggling to work her way through her abusive past until she finds the courage to face down her father once and for all, and the inspiration to create her own work of powerful fiction.

Long before ALICE IN SUNDERLAND, with this classic, self-marketing Beatrix Potter pastiche cover, Bryan Talbot gave Page 45 its first prime slab of potent, provocative and deeply affecting British fiction to sell as a book to the masses. With its carefully composed layouts and its majestic scenery in soft watercolour under a ligne claire acetate overlay, it is still easily one of the most accessible, beautiful and mesmerising graphic novels on our shelves to give to a first-time comics reader and convince them that they need to explore this medium. No surprise, then, that mainstream prose giants Jonathan Cape chose to launch its Cape Classics imprint with Raymond Briggs' GENTLEMAN JIM and a new edition of this, with two glorious brand-new paintings inside. I asked Bryan about those two pieces in particular:

They were originally painted for the Dark Horse Limited Edition hardback (which costs about 5 times the price of the Cape edition). I did them as a homage to the beautiful Alfred E Bestall endpapers in his Rupert the Bear annuals - in fact I signed them in the style of his signature. When I was a kid I always felt a bit cheated that the last endpaper was exactly the same as the first one! This gave me the idea to do two different ones. The first painting is set in London in winter, just before the start of the tale and the second is in the Lake District shortly after the end so they frame the story.

Timeless and brilliant.
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