Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Biggles: Spitfire Parade

Original Story by W.E. Johns and adapted by Francis Bergèse
Published in the US by Cinebook

Slugline: Down the Rabbit Hole with some World War 2 aerial action!

Today is Lewis Carrol's, writer of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, birthday. A challenge went out to make this Down the Rabbit Hole Day, where blogs and the like talk about something other than their usual topics. We thought to still make it somewhat related. We normally review manga, but we have on occasion written about OEL, OGM and American comics here. But there is a third major comic's tradition. There is the Japanese manga, American comics and then there is the European comic album tradition, which Biggles is part of.

This is an adaptation of a novel from the Biggles series, which detailed the life and adventures of a British aviator in World War 1 and later in World War 2. Spitfire Parade is set at the very beginning of World War 2, as England is under attack by German air power. A Spitfire is one of the most famous of British World War 2 fighters, and Biggles is put in command of squadron of them. This is a boy's adventure comic, so the characters are not deeply drawn and the opponents remain faceless, hidden away in the machines that they pilot. There is a lot of what could be called hi-jinks, squadrons playing pranks on each other and the like.

The album itself is sized differently, larger than even American comics, but released as just a 64 page graphic novel and in full color. But the color scheme seems to use mostly flat colors, and the art style is very, very realistic. Even in the interior pages you can see the rivets on the Spitfires. There are not many war comics nowadays, though once they were very popular in the US, before the rise of superheroes in the mid to late 60s. While it is no historical text, Spitfire Parade is a nice change of pace from manga and tells a kind of story that you will rarely find there.

Which of course means we need to review a yaoi title next to get fully back into the swing of things.


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