Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Klondike by Zach Worton

"The story of how a handful of colourful characters sparked the largest mobilization of gold seekers in history is brought vividly to life in this debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zach Worton." (From the back cover.)

I was disappointed. The vignette style would have worked better with a more coherent connection between the parts. I would barely get to know a character and then the action would leap to another place and other people. Many of the secondary characters are never mentioned again. For example, the scene in 1897 Skagway, in which a Japanese worker was shot in a dispute over who could work stevedore jobs, ends as abruptly as the death and the story moves on to other events. I was often left wanting to know more. I also wanted to correct the spelling of 'greenhorn' (which doesn't have an 'e' on the end).

The black and white artwork is appealing and captures many different kinds of people as well as the beauty of the northern landscape. I especially liked the way Soapy Smith's eyes were drawn as zigzags - it's a good way to represent his mad intensity.

Since the book feels incomplete on its own, I suggest pairing this with either Gold Diggers by Charlotte Gray or Klondike by Pierre Berton for back-up information on the central events and characters.

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