Thursday, January 5, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry

"As it did every morning...with spiteful inevitability...the sun rose."

Britten and Brülightly by Hannah Berry
Genre: Detective noir
Publisher: Metropolitan Books, 2008
Check out some sample pages
From: Local library

Story: There's not much sun in the noir city where Fernández Britten makes his living as a "researcher." He's tired of telling jealous and vengeful lovers what they already know, so now he doesn't get out of bed for less than murder. He doesn't get out of bed much. But today he has a case. With his partner, Stewart Brülightly, who happens to be a talking teabag, Britten is off to meet a lady of mystery and talk about murder.

Thoughts: Mysterious death. Long silences. Rain. Britten and Brülightly has it all. This isn't a kid's book but instead a noir mystery with violence, murder, and even swearing. I think this is the first graphic novel I've checked out that's shelved in the adult section. Instead of hard-boiled, Britten is world-weary. He's seen more than his share of deceit and cares too much to let it go. His partner, although a teabag, has managed to stay upbeat. Stewart adds some levity to the bleak existence that's weighing Britten down. The plot moves swiftly, and Britten is swept along. He wants to help people, but the truth only makes things worse. And he's too intelligent to go after anything but the truth.

Art: The artwork in Britten and Brülightly is amazing. Each panel is painted with just the faintest touch of color creating a washed-out image that adds to the bleak atmosphere. The city is  populated with the most beautifully drawn details. A desk. A fish. A shoe. The never-ending rain and angles looking down on Britten from a height only emphasize his insignificance. My one criticism is some of the lettering is hard to read. I love how the narration is written out in cursive, but it takes a couple of passes to get the whole gist. The story is well-done, and the art that makes this book.

Final thoughts: If you like noir or detectives or graphic novels or tea, you should read Britten and Brülightly. Well, maybe not tea. I wouldn't want Stewart in my cup. But it's an excellent choice for any graphic novel fan and mystery buffs who want to give graphic novels a try.

Grade: 5 out of 5

This review is part of the Graphic Novels Challenge.

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