Streak of Chalk
Miguelanxo Prado, NBM Publishing (OCTOBER) Hardcover $19.99 (88pp), 978-1-68112-116-1
NBM brings a classic work back to print, with Spanish creator Miguelanxo Prado’s masterful graphic novel Streak of Chalk.
Originally published by NBM in 1994, this new hardcover edition features fascinating bonus material showing Prado’s work process and a several-page homage to legendary artist Hugo Pratt and Pratt’s Corto Maltese character, which is incorporated in elements of Prado’s story. But the main attraction here is Prado’s sultry and surreal tale of a sailor who discovers a small, white-tinged island (the “Streak of Chalk”). He meets several mysterious characters, and Prado expertly heightens the tension on every page. It’s never obvious what’s going to happen next, but every turn is compelling and captivating.
Streak of Chalk is a work for adults, not just because of its sometimes explicit subject matter, but because the inhabitants of its world are realistically complex and flawed. Though their decisions are often unexpected, they are never gratuitous or inconsistent.
Prado earns attention honestly. His art is a wonder, and it’s striking to see his mastery of different techniques as evidenced in the bonus pages, which give an idea of how much care has been taken to convey a certain mood throughout the book.
Most graphic novels are easily broken down into story and text versus art and visual storytelling, but Prado’s work defies these categorizations. All elements combine seamlessly into a single, cohesive narrative. Streak of Chalk is satisfying as art and as literature, and it stands as a stunning example of the unique potential of graphic novels.