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05 May 2009 @ 09:24 pm
The King of Persia, by Walt Holcombe  
The King of Persia, by Walt Holcombe, is no longer in print, but it's been collected, along with some of his other work, in Things Just Get Away from You. (The serial Poot, also collected there, is worth looking at as well.)





Faisal, the titular king, falls in love from afar with Ayyala, a peasant who speaks the language of animals (as does the king.) She dreams of an emerald and falls ill, telling the king that she will marry him if he brings it to her. Faisal and his love-struck camel, Jamila, seek the emerald on the advice of a djinn that lives in the desert. In the course of their search, they find a magical kingdom far from Persia.





The King of Persia is a gem of a book. The black and white artwork is whimsical and lush, with lovely crosshatching. The dialogue ranges from lyrical to comical within the same page, or even the same panel. There are wordless sequences in which the strength of the artwork shines.

The story is bittersweet. Faisal says, "I pray my emptiness has not deformed me." Instead, his emptiness deforms those around him. Although a slight book, it's packed full of humor and melancholy, each strengthened by its juxtaposition with the other.
 
 
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