Monday, September 5, 2011

NEW NZ Graphic Novel: Kimble Bent: Malcontent

Above: The cover of Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz. Copyright Chris Grosz/Random House 2011.

This week sees the release of the third locally published graphic novel this year, Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz.

An acclaimed editorial cartoonist and artist, Chris Grosz has created a striking 72 page graphic novel retelling of James Cohan's original 1911 biography The Adventures Of Kimble Bent. Following the life of Bent, an american who through a series of miss-adventures washes up on New Zealand shores in the 1860s as part of the British Army, before defecting to live among the Maori. 

As one of the few Pakeha to be accepted into Maori tribal society during this period, he joined the Hauhau tribe and took part in key battles during the infamous Taranaki Land Wars. Bent's story of adapting to tribal life is equally fascinating and hair-raising, as he walks a thin line between acceptance and mistrust, with the threat of a scalping and cannibalism ever present. His reputation as the 'Pakeha Maori' and outlaw grew over time, with a price placed on his head by rival tribes and the Crown itself.

Above: A page from Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz. Copyright Chris Grosz/Random House 2011.

Remarkably, the entire book is illustrated using scraperboard, a technique involving removing a top layer of black ink to reveal white china clay underneath, giving the illustrations a stark rugged contrast, perfectly capturing the feel of colonial New Zealand and highlighting the tensions of the story.

It's available now from all major booksellers now for RRP $24.99, published by Random House (ISBN: 9781869795160).

Look for my review later in the week, in the meantime you can watch this Monty Python-like trailer for the book:


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