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sábado, 2 de mayo de 2015

Granuaille: Queen of Storms, O’Brien Press

Review


The Irish Constitution states that women give, by staying at home, a support to the State "without which the common good cannot be achieved". One has to wonder what pirate Queen Gráinne Ní Mháille would say about modern day Ireland; in which we seem to have undone what she achieved as a female citizen in the 16th century.

At a young age Ní Mháille became a leader of her clan in Connacht, running the trading and shipping business after her father, Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille. Granuaille was a powerful figure, an independent thinker and a fearless protector of Gaelic society.
 
Granuaille: Queen of Storms is the second in a series of incursions by O’Brien Press into Irish folklore through the graphic novel format. The comic explores some of her personal tragedies and some historical events which have contributed to give an air of legend to her reputation as a ferocious pirate. As the comic depicts, Gráinne Ní Mháille's life was linked to adventure and foreign expeditions, but also to violence and loss.
 
Her role as the clan leader meant resisting the constant attack of Sir Richard Bingham, English governor of Connacht, in a time when the Empire fought incessantly to control the Ireland beyond the pale. Granuaille always stayed loyal to her principles despite the obstacles she encountered. Where she confronted the distrust and had to control the disagreements coming from advisors close to her father and later to her.
 
Granuaille is a strong female character with principles, a strength Dave Hendrick exploits efficiently in this story. Hendrick pitches an idea about a real feminist leader, an intelligent move considering the amount of young female readers out there. The research and the highlights presented in this book seem to represent fairly, although taking some creative license, what Granuaille achieved.  It’s a good introductory tale, but perhaps the low page count, under seventy, makes it difficult for the story to breathe and be fully self-contained. We come across a couple of jumps in time, ellipsis in the narration and flashbacks that may lose the reader momentarily.
 
The book's artwork reveals Luca Pizzarí's excellent qualities for character design. The storytelling through images is not flawless, some of the sequential art requires some revision to be accomplished at a hundred percent. Although this doesn't stop the artist creating a world of pirates, storms and political turmoil and wrapping it up with a cover that elevates his main character to the level of heroine.
 
A special mention should go to Dee Cuniffe's colours, who experiments with an old fashioned look for this book, very suitable for a historical graphic novel. The colours fit perfectly with Pizzari's expressive and detailed panels. Cunniffe's palette, full of greens and blues for Ireland and reds and oranges for the ‘invaders’ are a testimony to the knowledge he has of his craft.
 
Unluckily Peter Marry's lettering doesn't integrate as well as the other graphic elements in this book. The general appearance of this otherwise very attractive edition suffers the lack of creativity in this area and the perhaps overlooked lettering process (at least from the graphic point of view).
 
The creative team behind Granuaille: Queen of Storms is formed by Dave Hendrick, Luca Pizzari and Dee Cunniffe. Hendrick, has published web comics for almost six years and has played an important role in the organisation of the Dublin International Comic Expo (DICE) and the Cork Comic Expo 2015. Pizzari has recently been hired by Marvel to illustrate a Spider-Man Special series and Secret Wars Journal #2. Dee Cuniffe, who does the colours in this project, is a flatter for some of the most important colourists at an international level.

Granuaille: Queen of Storms is an inspiring look into Irish folklore, seemingly suffering the absence of an editor with more experience in graphic novels. These circumstances, a natural consequence to the Arts Council funding cuts affecting comic books publishing in Ireland, may be the cause of a less polished edition when compared to Celtic Warrior: The Legend of Cú Chullain, the first in a series of Irish legend/historical graphic novels launched by O'Brien Press.

This is not a children's book, it is clearly aimed at a young adult and an adult audience, able to understand the historical value of exploring this character. Also the violence contained in the illustrations, a reflection of the times Ní Mháille lived in, would make it unsuitable for a younger reader. 
 
In a society with a lack of trustworthy leaders, reading about such a stimulating character in Irish history is a must. This graphic novel is a good way to approach the character for the first time. It will definitely spark your curiosity about Granuaille, a figure who tried to protect the cultural wealth of the emerald island until her last breath.

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