Thursday, September 11, 2008
Mattland, story by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, art by Dušan Petričić - review
Mattland, story by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, art by Dušan Petričić
What's different about Mattland?
Well, first, there's the cover. Drawn from Matt's point of view, all we see is the muddy ground and the kid's arm holding a stick. There's something a little more intimate, maybe something a little reminiscent of an introspective grownup graphic novel about that cover.
Then there's the fact that we never really get a good look at Matt. We see his shadow, his reflection, his feet or legs or arms, all drawn from his point of view... and yet the book is written in the third person. Gives the book a cinematic quality - a European cinematic quality, to be precise.
Not to forget the text: Matt has moved into a pretty drab-looking neighborhood, and when he goes outside to play, he finds mud and rocks and a stick. Wow. But he starts creating a landscape out of the bits of junk he finds, and as he does so he talks to himself, just a little, naming things. The narrative, and his landscape, gather mass and momentum, and by the end of the book he has attracted the attention of the kids that you just know are going to be his friends.
Not goopy. Not sticky. But not ignoring Matt's emotions either, Mattland is a true-to-its-core portrait of a boy, a vacant lot, and his imagination.