It’s hard to really put my feelings about this graphic novel down into words. Sometimes you read something which offers such a mixed bag that you don’t really know how to define it. Porcelain is one of those experiences. At times you’ll be asking what the author was trying to do, and at other times you’ll be taken aback by the beauty of the artwork.
That doesn’t mean Porcelain was bad, though; Far from it. The novel is well written and the art is beautiful at times. The story, while easy to see where it is going, is simple and almost poetic. Written by Benjamin Read, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, Colored by Andre May and Lettered by Jim Campbell, Porcelain is well executed if a bit lacking.
The story takes place in an alternate reality appearing to be Victorian Era England, though it is never stated, nor is it necessary to do so. The main character, Child, is a street urchin who is coerced into sneaking into a mysterious mansion. Once on the other side of the very large wall, she is greeted by two all-white dogs that do not look living. Before the dogs can kill Child, The Porcelain Maker halts their advance on Child. The Porcelain Maker invites Child in for some tea and biscuits. While conversing over tea and biscuits, Child passes out from exhaustion. She wakes in a bed and is offered the chance to stay and become The Porcelain Maker’s ward; she accepts. The Porcelain Maker shows her around the house and reveals that the white constructs seen around the house are infused with runes to bring them to life. The Maker forbids her to enter a specific locked room in his workshop.
This is where a dark tinge bleeds through into this fairytale-like story. I wont give any hints for fear of spoiling the ending, but needless to say the ending was well done, if a bit predictable.
The entire time I was reading this novel, I heard Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel in my head. It isn’t often that a graphic novel puts music in my brain while I’m reading it, but when it happens, it really helps me to connect with the story. This title earns its moniker of “A Gothic Fairy Tale.”
Even with all it’s inherent flaws, Porcelain is a beautiful and lyrical story that could be enjoyed by anyone. It is incredibly easy to read and I had no problems following the story. I recommend Porcelain.
If you would like to check it out for yourself, read the first few pages on the Improper Books website. If you like what you see, be sure to support the creative minds behind this amazing graphic novel. Look for this beautiful story to hit the shelves of bookstores and comic shops near you in July 2013!