Next week sees the release of Dylan Horrocks' long awaited second graphic novel, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, with a launch party happening at Heroes For Sale, 582 Karangahape Rd, Auckland, on Thursday 27th of November at 6.30pm.
Following 16 years after the release of his ground-breaking debut Hicksville (1998), The Magic Pen introduces us to Sam Zabel - a burnt out cartoonist who having lost his faith in the comics medium, begins a journey of rediscovery that takes him inside and beyond the boundaries of comic books and their established storytelling conventions. Accompanied by web-cartoonist Alice Brown, and the mysterious rocket-booted, manga-styled schoolgirl Miki, Sam's quest for the elusive Magic Pen takes them inside a series of comic books where they meet a tribe of sex-obsessed aliens, pirates, medieval monks, dragons, a room of tentacles, and of coarse, cartoonists.
Above: Sam and his friends encounter the She-Pirates of The Bloody Rose!
Thoughtful, erotic and surprising, The Magic Pen explores both the pleasures and consequences of creating fantasy stories - and asks the difficult questions. For example, should authors be held morally accountable for the fantasies they create? There are many troubling areas in the history of comic books relating to the depiction of gender roles, sexuality and violence among many others issues, which Horrocks boldly wrestles with in this book - challenging himself and his own expectations of comics in a way few of his international peers have.
This is Horrocks' first full-colour graphic novel, and the artwork is beautifully refined in its style and colour palette, making even the most raunchy sequence seem surprisingly tasteful! On that note, it will be interesting to see how the book is received by some critics, particularly those unfamiliar with comics who might assume Dylan's clear-line art style must be inherently child-friendly...big mistake! There are also stylistic tips of the hat to Tintin's Herge, Carl Barks, and even our own late pioneering cartoonist, Eric Resetar.
Above: Sam struggles with the responsibility of storytelling and fantasy.
If Hicksville represented the hopes and fears of a young cartoonist and his relationship to comics, The Magic Pen is its spiritual sequel - the work of a seasoned veteran at the height of his creative power exploring the language of comic books from the inside out, and reporting back to us what he has learnt about himself and the medium after almost two decades in the creative trenches.
Above: Sam and Miki blast off on their adventure!
There will be live entertainment on the night, with snacks and refreshments, and of coarse Dylan will be on hand to sign and sketch in your own personal copy! If you are on Facebook you can RSVP HERE.
And if you are in Wellington, don't despair - Dylan will be signing at Unity Books, 57 Willis St, on December 12th, from 12.00 - 12.45pm! And you can RSVP for that event HERE.
It is sure to be one of the most talked about books of the year, so come along and celebrate this landmark release!