“Once upon a time this was a true story …” Thus begins the tragic story of Red, a young orphan boy who has no one but his older sister Jaada in the world. But one dark night, even that connection is severed when the two are attacked, and Jaada disappears into the night, seemingly forever.
As Red becomes a young man, he rises to become the village local leader, fueled by his ever-seething anger over his childhood loss. When he learns that his sister is indeed still alive, allegedly living happily in a nearby village, he devises an elaborate plan to attack her captors and finally set her free. But violence is never the answer to conflict, and death and destruction inevitably ensue.
The epic story of wrongful revenge is not particularly new, but the presentation here is uniquely unforgettable. Writer/artist Yahgulanaas ingeniously combines the art of his native culture, the indigenous Haida Nation of the Pacific Northwest coastal islands, with contemporary manga formatting to create a hybrid art form he’s coined as ‘Haida manga,’ “… a complex of images – a composite,” he explains.
“I welcome you to destroy this book, I welcome you to rip the pages out of their bindings, following the layout provided … ” Indeed, each of the pages, laid out side-by-side in a grid of six panels across by three panels down, all together comprise a spectacular larger picture. Luckily, no destruction is necessary: the book’s last two pages provide an overview, as does the back side of the book’s jacket, printed a bit larger.
To see to believe. The final effect is one of those pure gasps of wonder.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult