Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Cloudchasers

A fascinating synthesis of Jules Verne, Hayao Miyazaki, Naziism, and Terry Gilliam, this handsome graphic novel/children's picture book hybrid from Australia will soon be appearing in good bookshops north of the convict continent.

In a plot that mirrors key pre-WWII events, the young heroine, Alice...

... is severely reprimanded when she dares to draw a picture in Bankertown, a fascist enclave where creativity is outlawed by the grotesque Banker.

Instead of joining the Banker Youth, she escapes in a balloon and sets out to recover the town's stolen imagination...

...while being pursued by a "youth" whose methods demand re-education.

Written by David Richardson, who also works as a cinematographer (he shot my film "Sensitive New Age Killer"), and illustrated by Steve Hunt, an accomplished graphic designer and book cover illustrator, The Cloudchasers (ABC Books/Harper Collins; 2008) works as a clever piece of adult subversion, and a thinking kid's grand adventure.

It plays with some fascinating concepts, such as "imagination" as an absolute, and isn't afraid to pepper its plot twists with arsenic.

It is filled with evocative images that echo the old pulps like Astounding and Amazing, and is bursting with fantastique mechanical marvels that lend it a Gilliam-esque flavor (Brazil and Baron Munchausen spring immediately to mind).

I highly recommend it -- not because the authors are friends, but because it possesses excellence.


  1. Those images are gorgeous. You have to love a rat with a weapon backpack.

  2. Yes, the images are gorgeous. Better to have a rat with a weapon that he may not use, than a rat with no weapon who suddenly needs one.

  3. This sounds [and looks] superb!

    Thanks for the heads up Phantom!