The Dam Keeper, Book 1

33163372So last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, and if I were a Good At Remembering type of blogger, I would have said something beforehand instead of afterwards, but instead I am a Forgetting type of blogger, and here I am unhelpfully four days later telling you about it. On Free Comic Book Day, many of your local friendly comic book shops (my personal favourite is All Star Comics in Melbourne) give out a bunch of free comic. The Rocket got a bag of about ten, and each adult got to pick seven out of a huge bunch. It’s a pretty rad way to find out about some new comic books, and means you can check out some stuff you might not usually look at for free. Also, heaps of people dress up (the Rocket dressed as Raven from Teen Titans Go!, our absolute favourite television show of the moment) and it’s a bunch of fun.

So The Dam Keeper was not one of these free comics, but I was lurking around the graphic novel section of Readings Kids today and the cover was so beautiful that my grabby hands had picked it up before I realised what was happening. It’s a really gorgeous, dark-toned book, where a high-school student named Pig (who is an actual pig) is in charge of his valley’s dam, a big, clunking wooden building that keeps the Fog away. The Fog is dark and deadly and has consumed everything else outside the valley, including Pig’s parents. Since Pig’s father designed the dam, it’s up to him to maintain it–to wind up the fan to blow the fog away, to make sure it’s still working, and to keep the illusion that everything is fine for everyone inside the valley. Pig doesn’t have many friends–mostly, it’s just Foxy, his best friend. Foxy, unfortunately, has space for more best friends in her life, including Hippo, who’s a real jerk (Foxy! Get some eyes and ditch that butthead!) and does not treat Pig very well. Then one day, Pig realises that the Fog is doing something very different, and life as he knows it is about to get smashed.

The Dam Keeper is really great, but also pretty sad. It’s sad that everyone is dead (good thing you have me here to point this out, huh?) and that his parents have died. It’s sad that Hippo’s the worst. Pig’s morose face is a real bummer, and the weight of his entire village’s happiness on his shoulders is a huge amount to bear. It’s not drawn like a traditional comic book, but more like a painting, but it’s still easy to follow, and there’s a lot of FOOOOOSH and SMASH all the same. It’s very full-on, with pages that have a lot of panels followed by an intense close-up, and my heart was sometimes racing. It’s also got a cliffhanger of an ending (I should’ve known, since it’s called Book 1), and I was immediately sulky that I couldn’t read the next one, but it’s better to be excited about an upcoming book instead of unexcited, isn’t it?

Apparently it’s a movie, too, that the authors Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi directed, but I haven’t checked it out.

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