The cells of the comic book, such simple boxes, all overlooked platforms of truth, for this reason, Comic books will always have a special place dedicated on my bookshelf. Many adults that haven't grown up with the genre, unfortunately live with a cemented stigma towards these awesome tombs of creative excellence. Though graphic novels are slowly increasing their percentage of space on the western world's bookshop shelves. In Japan, they outsell many novels and often appear on the bestseller lists. Which isn't surprising because within them you have the skills of an exceptional artist and the prose of an excellent writer combined together, not just creating a beloved story, but a true work of art.
Briony Hatch is one such graphic novel, written and illustrated by two sisters Ginny and Penelope Skinner. One an artist and the other a play write, their story focuses on Briony, a 15 year old girl struggling with the internal turmoil of identity, as she breaks away from childhood during the splitting up of her family. Awkwardly she attempts to fit in with her friends as her daydream fantasies cloud and overwhelm her teenage mind.
Each cell leads from one to the other as effortlessly as any of the great and best loved additions of my collection. The dialogue gives an honest portrayal of a teenage girl's thoughts and feelings as she negotiates a world that she'd rather escape, for the fear of growing up and envy of the magical and powerful. The story tackles these issues in a clearly wise and experienced way, as so many books in the past try to convey such an experience, only to fail on the characters; appearing second hand, contrived and condescending.
Briony's character is instantly recognisable, despite my Y chromosome handicap. Her social awkwardness and daydream fantasies reverberate from my own teenage past (and the occasional long distance journey where I appear to star in my own music videos or happen to be superman) refusing to accept the dull existence of adulthood, where all of those forced attitudes of being serious make your personality feel like it's trapped within a prison. Evading into your imagination at such a time, appeared the only true freedom.
The writing and dialogue between each of the characters is delightfully honest, seamlessly matching the simple and innocent illustrations, as if you were peering into Briony's own personal scrapbook.
The novel appears to be part of a series, and certainly one that will be loved by both the open minded adults and teenagers alike. When you reach the end, which can be completed in less than 2 hours, you're left feeling that such time was spent in a state of meditative nostalgic reflection, and no doubt you'll long for a follow up.