Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Professor's Daughter

Imhotep IV, the mummy reanimated in this book is unlike many of his undead brethren. He is not an unthinking zombie, nor does he yearn for flesh or blood. He just wants to fit into 18th century British society and resume his regal lifestyle. He is abetted in this task by Lillian, the mischievous daughter of the professor who discovered him and brought him to England to display. He is enamored with this woman because she resembles his dead wife, a point of contention between the two. Among the exciting and zany things that happen to this unlikely couple: Imhotep III is also remarkably alive and up to seeming no good; Scotland Yard is after him for murder and rounding up all the mummies in town as suspects, and the pair must contend with her father's attempts to reclaim his prime display artifact. Also in the course of the story, Queen Victoria gets kidnapped in the hopes of her providing a pardon. Talk about a star-crossed romance...

This fantastical graphic novel was produced by two of France's premier comics creators, Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar. Guibert is an artist capable of many styles who has been involved in writing the Sardine in Outer Space series as well as drawing Didier Lefèvre's The Photographer. The prolific Sfar has written and drawn hundreds of comics and graphic novels, including the acclaimed The Rabbi's Cat and The Little Vampire series.

As might be expected when two high caliber talents collaborate, the critics I have read largely celebrate this book. Susan L. Carr draws attention to the many whimsical details the story exposes about Victorian England. Heidi Dolamore from the School Library Journal praised Guibert's art as the best part of this "enjoyable melodrama." Gina Ruiz highly recommends this "bizarre, well told and completely wonderful" tale. Perosnally, I found the book funny, surreal, and slightly dark at times.

A preview is available here from the book's publisher First Second.

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