Streak of Chalk

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Comics & Graphic Novels -

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.

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