Fun Graphic Novel Review

F2Two down, 9 letters. Solving me, will answer this word.

The history of the Crossword from it humble beginnings in New York, through to the ‘Crossword craze’ by way of the world loving crosswords. Insightful and exceptional in a way that we often do not see. The crossword lead to a social revolution in the way we sit and travel. From Paris craze, to London cryptic by way of famous authors and Russia. This is an inspirational view of the power of the black and white boxes. However as with all great stories there is more and inside this, we meet Zeno Porno. Zeno is a comic book lover and artist for Disney. He meets his hero Pippo Quester and discovers that the great writer is working on the above history of crosswords. Zeno wants nothing more than to help discover more about the magic of the squares. His journey leads him to discover something that words alone cant convey…

F4Wow. I approached this work with apprehension. You see Selfmadehero  have released some amazing works. From Tetris, Herman by Trade, The Cigar who fell in love with a pipe et al. They have made a mark in graphic novel art that deserves acknowledgement and praise. The problem is that I worried that they may go wrong and trip just at the high. This proves that they still have it. This is a work that is utterly extraordinary. I loved how not only the work looks stunning, with detail and hues, colours and stark visualisations. It captivated me with its detail. Its observations of simple everyday things like a crossword but makes them intriguing and mythical. New York, Milan, London and beyond become places on a quest to find answers to a question we never knew we wanted an answer for. I am amazed that I became so willing to explore something, just that morning I took for granted. I didn’t care about its origins but now all I see is this wonderful series of details, defining the whole.

F1There is more however. The narrative itself is exceptional and has a drive that makes for compulsive reading. Zeno is a regular player in Bacilieri work and you know why he is. You find him a friend with tender weakness, human with emotion and funny, some times unintentionally. Take then how it develops from the first stage to its outcome and you will see how well crafted the tale is. I loved the developing strands that come together. Sometimes after we have the gist but often before. Pippo Quester is another great stroke. A hero but so fallible and tender. So unknown yet liked like a father. I have nothing but praise for this work and that of Selfmadehero.

This is a visually wonderful, intimate, tender, funny and powerful story that makes the history of the Crossword, compelling like never before.

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