Blue is the debut graphic novel by Australian cartoonist Pat Grant. Part autobiography and part science fiction, the book follows three spotty teenagers who skip school to go surfing and end up investigating rumors of a dead body on the train line. Provincial values and the emotions aroused by immigration clash as the teenagers encounter strange, blue-skinned foreigners that have arrived in their little beach town. Things become even more confronting when the trail leads them to make first contact with a new wave of immigrants to their coastal tow, who might be the harbingers of sweeping change. Blue is a delicate and affectionate portrayal of an iconic setting and way of life, told with an unerring ear and eye for the vernacular. But it’s also a story about difference, fear and change, and the political implications of this for contemporary Australia.
Pat Grant’s approach to cartooning is largely an old-fashioned one, with each page of images painstakingly drawn on large pieces of illustration board with a sable brush and India ink. The images in Blue have been taken directly from drawings collected over many mornings on the beaches of NSW and Victoria; they are inspired by real life but don’t lose their cartoonish charm. Combined with Grant’s sparse writing the result is a cinematic story telling experience that lends itself particularly to an Australian experience of place and landscape.
‘With pitch-perfect dialogue and composition, Pat Grant takes the insidious ‘us and them’ mentality that still festers under the Australian plush pile, and hangs it out to dry by the surfboard. The result is honest, funny and unsettling – everything a great comic can be.’ Shaun Tan
One of Salon.com’s Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2012
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