Mark Twain + Jules Verne = The Lost Colony

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 23, 2008 in Comic Books |

The Lost Colony, Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by Grady Klein

As part of our ongoing campaign to support the destruction of superheroes I’ve decided to shine some light on publisher :01 First Second books. What I like about these folks is that they’ve done an amazing job bringing high quality yet quirky graphic novels to a world that’s been lost to the epic battle of comic book clichés. So here’s a title from their back catalog which I think is worth checking out:

The Lost Colony, Book One:
The Snodgrass Conspiracy, by Grady Klein

Alright stop, I know you’ve just glanced quickly at the cover art of this graphic novel — but go back and take another look. That abstract silhouette in the foreground isn’t jungle growth but the bottom of a giant robot! Grady Klein’s graphic novel is set in on a mythical island cut off from the antebellum south and features a rich mixture of Mark Twain inspired characters living in a Jules Verne world. Under its comic exterior Lost Colony explores larger themes from that era from slavery to industrialization.

As with the unconvential setting of the story (how many comic books have you ever seen set in this era?), Klien also takes chances with the look of this book: While his characters are drawn with distinctive bold brush strokes, Klien goes back in and adds many wonderful little details in each panel — which is amazing as all the coloring is flat and there are no textures. Then to top that off he brings a sense of cinimatic lighting to each frame of the artwork which makes the characters pop out off the page:

The Lost Colony, Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by Grady Klein

Another thing I admire about this book is that on the surface it doesn’t take itself too seriously, in fact it’s the atmosphere of wimsy that draws you into the characters. For example Klien’s giant robot reminds me more of the the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz rather than some mechanical Frankenstein roaming the countryside. I also like the fact that while he could have made his robot design look “mean and lean” he instead gives him a clumsy kit bashed look by using a stove pipe for his face and a furnace for a belly:

The Lost Colony, Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by Grady Klein

I’d glady recommend this book to anyone looking to escape meandering around Metropolis or the grinding of Gotham — Grady Klein takes the path not chosen by caped cruisaders, and yet like Mark Twain Klien is telling a tale that’s uniquely American. And as with Twain his story is about keeping you moving along the river — or in this case running through the mysterious swampland of The Lost Colony:

The Lost Colony, Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by Grady Klein

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