The Professor's Daughter
Joann Sfar & Emmanuel Guibert
First Second, 2007 (2007)
Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton
oann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert are masters of the amusing and quixotic. Their stories always have some strange or unique element that separates them from other talented writers. While some may chalk it up to being foreign (neither is from or lives in the United States), it is more likely their innate skills that make them popular in their countries of origin as well.
The Professor's Daughter
meets the standard of these accomplished artists.
e follow Lillian, daughter of a renowned Egyptologist, Professor Bowell, as she finds love in the strange form of the mummified corpse of Imohtep IV - who can be quite charming and alluring. An afternoon jaunt out in the streets of London turns into a series of follies as Lillian tries to protect and hide her beloved Imohtep to avoid his becoming a prisoner of the museum and, later on, just a plain old prisoner. But when people start dying (mostly by accident), she knows London is no safe place for a mummy. Yet, no one is sure what to do when the mummy's daddy, Imohtep III, appears with his own problems to resolve. And despite all this, Professor Bowell still wants these ancient pharaohs in his museum.
far and Guibert tell an outrageous story with straightforward grace. They quickly ease readers into the tale, and utilize every panel in this short graphic novel. Their characters are rich, funny, and fairly complex for the story being told. The use of mummies as characters proves intriguing since, with the exception of the mouth, they have no real discernable features - one wonders what Sfar and Guibert might be implying with such a statement as a faceless male protagonist.
he layout is consistent throughout the book, using mostly six panels - three rows of two panels - but occasionally drifting from the pattern to provide larger panels. Water colors for the art works well with the tone and setting (19th century London) of the book; particularly the use of drab and dull colors. Though the brevity of story may push some readers to want more or feel cheated, it is complete in itself. Sfar and Guibert make an excellent pairing; one that readers will look forward to in the future after reading this engaging work.
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