Reviews

The Lost Colony

Dante A. Ciampaglia

Like the island and the people at the center of this tale, The Lost Colony, while off the beaten path, is worth exploring.

The Lost Colony

Publisher: First Second
Subtitle: Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy
Contributors: Artist: Grady Klein
Price: $14.95
Writer: Grady Klein
Length: 128
US publication date: 2006-05
Amazon affiliate
Amazon

The premise of The Lost Colony series, of which The Snodgrass Conspiracy is the first chapter, is that in 19th century America there is an island hidden away from the world. And on that base level, The Lost Colony commands further investigation.

When you delve into Grady Klein's work, you find a world on this mystery island that is a microcosm of America in the 19th century: people obsessed with money and land, freedom-loving and -defending citizens, free blacks encountering the scourge of slavery, immigrants, xenophobia, distrust, and carpet-bagging, among other issues. When a stranger stumbles onto the island quite accidentally -- the first lines of dialogue in the book are his as he exclaims, "Where the @!$* am I?" -- his presence stirs up the islanders to wonder what his appearance means for the island, the people, its way of life, and its secrets.

It doesn't help that his reason for being lost on the island is the promotion of a slave auction. This is none too pleasing for citizens like Dr. Pepe Wong, the island "pharmacist" and purveyor of potions and other magical elixirs and foods, and Patricia, a black woman who sees the "Man in Green", Edweard Stoop, as a stranger and devil whose presence on the island will wreak havoc on the population. Others, like Birdy and her father Governor Snodgrass, see Stoop as an exotic attraction and a business opportunity. Birdy, further, is taken with the idea of taking part in the sale of slaves in order to get some help around the house -- she doesn't want to do the chores.

As The Snodgrass Conspiracy unfurls, it's hard not to be taken by the sheer whimsy of the story. Few characters are ever what they seem -- except for the villains who are cast in a Dickensian light -- and indeed have the seeds of nuance and intrigue planted here, which will hopefully bloom in future chapters of the series. The plot, while mostly threadbare and unsteady here, is solid enough in this first book to make the readers want to continue with these characters. Dr. Wong, for instance, raises question upon question about him and his role on the island -- he himself was once an outsider who stumbled across it, like Stoop -- so that he alone cultivates a great desire to read further entries in The Lost Colony series.

The illustration here is also noteworthy for its appealing, eye-catching style. Characters and scenery are exaggerated a bit, just enough to make things seem other-worldly without wholly alien, creating a visual landscape every bit as fanciful as the narrative. And the work is rather uncomplicated, in the best sense of the word. In this, the book is both eye-catching and satisfying. Klein is obviously quite talented as a creator, both in terms of character and illustration, and his rich and full yet nostalgically simplistic visual sensibilities allows for both his writing and art to come to life wonderfully.

It's this ability of Klein's, to keep everything appealing despite the often-times meandering story, that makes The Lost Colony, Book One: The Snodgrass Conspiracy so endearing. The groundwork Klein lays in this first book might be a little shaky in places, but his characters are strong enough that they can support his working out the kinks in the structure. It's hard to imagine anything but good things as this series continues. But whatever happens, this much is for sure. It will be interesting to see where he takes his characters and the island in further books -- and it's certainly a journey that will be very easy to take.

Like the island and the people at the center of this tale, The Lost Colony, while off the beaten path, is worth exploring. And once it is, it's difficult to pry yourself away from it.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image