The Tale of One Bad Rat tells a story about Helen, a shy young girl who runs away from home under the shadow of childhood sexual abuse. Following Beatrix Potter, Helen goes through her own journey from the city to countryside, with rat as her friend.
I haven’t read any of Beatrix Potter books, only watched the movie with Renee Zellweger titled Miss Potter. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Peter Rabbit before until that movie. It wasn’t just in my childhood zone somehow. I like the illustrations from what I saw in the movie.
On the other hand, this is probably the first serious Western graphic novel that I read. Reading around fellow bloggers, I knew that a lot of people just started reading manga. For me, I grew up with manga. I read manga constantly since primary school up to high school. I didn’t read any Western graphic novels. I did read some comics, like Asterix, Lucky Luke, Smurf, Tintin, etc. Anyway, comparing the style between Western and Japanese comic, I’d say the biggest difference is the sense of motion. In manga, there are always excessive lines showing the movement of the characters, while here the pictures are… static. Not that it’s a bad thing, it feels very clean.
I applause Bryan Talbot for bringing such a difficult issue into a graphic novel. It works very well too in my opinion. The expressions of the characters are very real down to the pain. I like how the main character could face up her abuser in the end and had a closure. I was kinda worried for a while that she was just gonna drift along and suffer forever.
I read that the book is used as a resource in schools and child abuse centres in several countries. So Talbot is definitely successful in creating this graphic novel. He said,
“This has been the most worthwhile book that I have been involved with and the best- not to mention the hardest- comics work that I’ve ever done.”
“The more child abuse is discussed in society or fiction in whatever medium, the more likely it is that the victims will realise that it is something that happens all the time, that they can speak out, be believed, and get it stopped.”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Publication year: 1995
1996 Eisner Award for best Graphic Album Reprint
1999 Haxtur Award for Best Long Comic Strip