Shining A Light On Society
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its seventy-sixth choice, The Tale Of One Bad Rat, by Bryan Tabot published by Titan/ Dark Horse and reviewed by Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
The Tale Of One Bad Rat
Writer/ Artist: Bryan Talbot
Titan/ Dark Horse
Today’s choice is the very hard-hitting A Tale Of One Bad Rat by veteran British comics creator Bryan Talbot. Comics is a great vehicle for telling serious stories and Talbot is one of comics’ finest ambassadors. A Tale Of One Bad Rat weaves the story of teenager Helen Potter, a runaway who has been forced to leave home after she is abused by her father. Helen is obsessed with children’s author Beatrix Potter, Helen was Potter’s real first name, and creates an imaginary friend in the shape of the one bad rat as a way of coping with her awful life, her abuse suffered and her circumstances. She is a very sympathetic figure and Talbot really brings her to life here with real nuance and subtlety.
It is on the surface a very simple story but Talbot brings empathy, imagination and emotion to bear here, offering healing for Helen through a serious of events. Visually it is very powerful indeed with Talbot’s graphic lines communicating very directly with the reader. He has stripped back his artistic style a little here to make it feel a little bit like the illustrations in Potter’s children’s books. The colouring is very effective too, using a flat palette to compliment Talbot’s art. He has always been a very good storyteller and he keeps the pace up here, offering a tale of credible redemption for Helen while using settings like London and the Lake District, where Potter lived for some time in real life, to wonderful effect. There is drama and conflict here and all the way through you are rooting for her to make her life and her situation better partly through her obsession with her true life namesake.
The best comic creators are able to utilise the four colour format to do something important with their work that makes a real difference. It certainly isn’t an easy subject to tackle but Talbot created something here with passion and sympathy that is the equal of the best TV dramas on the subject. It feels like he really did his homework here too and that is another reason why this book packs such a punch for the reader.
Comics should make you think and stop in your tracks sometimes and A Tale Of One Bad Rat, one of Talbot’s most personal stories, is a work of profound emotion with much to say to the reader.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far