A Graphic Novel by Wilbert Van Der Steen and Marc Legendre
Perhaps my first foray into the world of European Comics was when I got hooked on the 1990’s Tintin television series based on the world renowned comics by Belgian writer Hergé. I’m always on the look out for similar comics, and luckily have found one today with Ayak & Por Volume 1 by Wilbert Van Der Steen and Marc Legendre as published by Europe Comics. At first glance the comic has a very similar feel to Tintin – young character and pet “dog” aided by a professor go on a weird adventure in a faraway land, all the Hallmarks of everyone’s favorite boy detective. But what other similar comics lack is the same weird adventure feel that Hergé achieved in those old comics, captured here well. Granted, this isn’t the same in a lot of ways – the characters are more innocent, magic has a part in the story, and it’s a lot less grounded in reality. Whether intentional or not, you can definitely feel the influence.
“Wild adventures are on the horizon for little girl Ayak and her one-eyed dog Por. In the first story of this two-part tale, Ayak, Por, and the wacky professor seek shelter in an abandoned house, after their biosphere in Kamchatka explodes. But the discovery of an old teapot will soon whisk them away to a far-off land. In the second story, Ayak meets a lonely crown prince who is kept away from his people. Everyone thinks he is foolish, but what if he is just misunderstood?”
This compiles what I suspect were much smaller comics into one omnibus form, and tells the story of a young girl from Kamchatka, Russia who appears to be a member of an indigenous tribe – stated as being the Yupiks. After surviving an explosion, she and her professor friend, and a new dog like buddy, come across a magical teapot that contains a genie – all sorts of adventures ensue afterwards. I liked how this comic is somewhat comical and over the top, but explores an ethical conundrum – Ayak meets a lonely Sultan’s son that is quite literally somewhat on the les intelligent side. He’s has issues where he calls things by the wrong name is somewhat argumentative when folks say he’s wrong. Having the ability to grant wishes, Ayak wants to help her new friend, but ultimately makes things worse each day due to the ramifications of each wish. This isn’t Wishmaster level stuff where the genie is evil and trying trap people that make vague wishes, but Ayak learns an important lesson – sometimes it’s better to just leave things alone.
This was a fun comic, and I will be interested to see the further adventures of Ayak and her strange one-eyed, six-legged cryptozoological creature that vaguely looks like a dog. It’s a good choice for a kids book simply because it has large colorful pictures and not tons of dialogue, it also teaches lessons and does things that would make a kid think. I mean, given the ability to have a wish a day for the rest of your life, how much do you think you would mess things up? I’m sure power like that would be terrible after a while. Perhaps Ayak can use her powers for good, and enrich everyone she comes across.
If you are interested in this comic, click HERE
NOTE: I was provided a copy of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review from Europe Comics, I would like to thank them for their consideration and this opportunity to read this comic.