Friday, 8 January 2010

Review: Calamity Jack by Shannon & Dean Hale

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Released: January 4th, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-

Amazon summary:

Jack thinks of himself as a criminal mastermind with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, a trickster... maybe even a thief? But, of course, he's not out for himself he's trying to take the burden off his hardworking mum's shoulders. She'd understand, right? He hopes she might even be proud. Then, one day, Jack chooses a target a little more... 'giant' than the usual, and as one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk, his troubles really begin. But with help from Rapunzel and other eccentric friends, Jack just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of the people who live there... whilst catapulting them and the reader into another fantastical adventure.


I'll be honest here: besides Whedonverse ventures and the odd vampire-themed movie tie-in, I don't do graphic novels. They've never been something that particularly interested me, and I've never actively sought out one that didn't involve Buffy Summers, a stake or the name Richard Matheson. Queue my surprise when I read Calamity Jack, a gangsta retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, and actually enjoyed it. I mean serious must-read-again enjoyment. Weird, eh?

Calamity Jack is funny. The writing is witty, quippy and clever, and isn't far from those Whedonverse adventures I'm so used to. Granted, there isn't a vampire in sight, but there are pixies, giants and screaming brownies. Oh, and some kick-ass artwork to boot.

Calamity Jack is, for lack of a better description, a Hale-fest. Husband-and-wife team Shannon and Dean are responsible for the writing, while Nathan Hale (no relation) brings the characters and beanstalks to life. His artwork is really good, and makes the whole book that much more fun to read.

As with most graphic novels I've previously read, they inevitably end too soon, and usually without enough story or character development. That's my only complaint here, though it's a pretty minor niggle, and is something that I was expecting. I would have liked more Jack/Rapunzel, and more from little pixie Pru, though I can see why the depth and detail I'm used to perhaps wasn't possible in this instance. I'm now going to change the habit of a lifetime and find myself a copy of Rapunzel's Revenge. If it's even half as good as Calamity Jack, then I'm in for a treat.


Luisa at Chicklish said...

I love the sound of this. Thanks a lot for the review!

LovesSam said...

I've never read a graphic novel, but this sounds good!

Andrea said...

I like Rapunzel's Revenge. I will have to try this one too.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I don't read graphic novels normally but I do like the ones I have. I really do want to check this out. Nice review. Glad you enjoyed it.


Becky said...

Okay, I totally don't do graphic novels, comics or manga. I don't get which bit your meant to read first. It seems like a mensa puzzle to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it though.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I didn't like the other Shannon Hale book I read and I tend to avoid graphic novels so I don't think this is the book for me. Great review, though, Jen!

Lauren said...

I haven't read many graphic novels, but I'm hoping to read more - so this review was particularly interesting for me. Plus, Jack and the Beanstalk retelling? Definitely intrigued. Thanks for the heads up!

Nathan said...

Ooh thanks for the great review! (From a member of said-Hale-fest!)

Janssen said...

I thought Rapunzel's Revenge was even better.

vvb32 reads said...

this sounds like a fun and wild one. look steampunky too.