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In Review – Porcelain: Bone China

Porcelain: Bone China - Cover

Written by Benjamin Read
Art by Christian Wildgoose
Colours by Andre Many
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Improper Books
Full Colour. Softback. £14.99 or $22.99

“Set within a world that’s a magical echo of our own, Bone China is the story of a Lady, an alchymist, who must forge her own path through the complexities of love, family and war.”

The Story: Ten years have passed since the events of the first book in this series. The ‘Child’ has grown into the ‘Lady’ and is now in charge of the secrets, wealth and business of ‘Uncle’. Due to the weight of the responsibilities on her, she has become isolated with few to counsel or console her, remaining in the walled house with the porcelain creatures to build and defend her. But, occasionally, she ventures out in secret, and that is where the problems begin…

Porcelain: Bone China - Sample 1

The Review: Look. I am sure that anyone who knows me, listens to the Awesome Comics Podcast I’m on or reads reviews of Improper Books that I have written on downthetubes knows that they are my pals. Saying that, it didn’t stop this book breaking my freaking heart and being a glorious triumph at the same time. This is a book that you could be forgiven for thinking is an adaption of an already existing fairy tale. It is not. It is straight out of the suedes of the creators Benjamin Read and Christian Wildgoose.

Porcelain: Bone China is a story that flows seamlessly from the original into this new tale, set ten years later. The orphan has grown up, but still has her rebellious spark. She still has the common touch and takes no prisoners in her business dealings. But as the story progresses, you also see the vulnerabilities in her life, her loneliness and her real, but buried, need for friendship and love.

This is not to say that the story is a navel gazing, introspective story. It is a character piece – but one drawn on a huge worldwide canvas. The second volume sees the characters spread out beyond the house and its walls and beyond the confines of even the city. It is brutal and violent and double dealing. I wish I could say more without spoiling the tale, but moments in this will thrill you, make the hair stand up on the back of the neck and bring a lump to your throat.

Ben has crafted a character who you completely invest in and shout for.
Porcelain: Bone China - Sample 2 The art is rich and detailed, offering scenes that you’ll stare at for hours! Christian draws the whole world, every corner and nook, every cloud and window. Without hyperbole – this is masterful. His faces are full of drama and emotion and are consistent to a point that they speak through every turn and inflection. The action is at moments sudden and brutal, gloriously imagined. The investment in these characters makes you feel every swing of a sword.

Andre May on colours is also well worth a mention. His palettes are spot on and add hugely to the sense of time and place. The greys of the house and the bright colours of sunny countries as the characters travel throughout this imagined world. Lovely stuff.

Jim Campbell’s lettering – always the invisible part of any book, in that if there’s anything wrong, that disrupts your reading enjoyment, and you’ll notice it – rounds off this wonderful book with his usual skill and inventiveness.

This book will also 100 per cent ruin you for any (yes any) comic that you read after it, in my view. It is so richly paced, drawn and coloured that I challenge you not to read it in one sitting. The only down point is that we now have to wait for Book Three to appear!

This is, without a doubt, one of my books of the year. I was absolutely blown away as I read it the world paused, my coffee went cold and untouched and I sat with a dropped jay at the craft and story. It also has some great extra material in the back pages that has some of Christian’s character designs and layouts of the city.
Buy it.

• You can grab a copy at all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, or through www.improperbooks.com or follow them on Twitter @ImproperBooks

 

Many thanks for reading.

About Antony Esmond

Antony Esmond
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer - his hips don't lie.
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