Graphic Novel Review: Ralph Azham Book 1: Black Are The Stars by Lewis Trondheim

Ralph Azham Book 1: Black Are The Stars by Lewis Trondheim. Translation by Kim Thompson and Joe Johnson. Colorign by Brigitte Findakly. Super Genius (Papercutz), 2022. 9781545808795. 150 pp.

Lewis Trondheim has a new book in English! It’s the first part of what was, in French, an amusing 12 volume epic. This one contains three of the original books. It features an a fantasy world full of anthropomorphic characters, strange creatures, and magical artifacts reminiscent of Trondheim and Sfar’s Dungeon series. Characters like Ralph who are blue have special powers — in his case it’s ridiculous (at least at first) — he can tell how many kids a person has. (He develops a more useful and deadly power that involves the ghosts of those one has killed as well.) Over the course of the books Ralph goes from hapless outcast to the kind of direct, plain talking hero I find it easy to root for (though he’s still an idiot sometimes). The whole series is, at least in part, about family, the one you’re born with and the one you choose. Great stuff. The fact that Trondheim’s wife B. Findakly colored his comics makes the art the much more fun.

If this sounds familiar it’s because Fantagraphics published the first French book as a single volume years ago, but then didn’t publish the rest. (It looks like Papercutz is going to though!) It’s worth noting that Papercutz published another book by Trondheim in 2021, a wordless graphic novel titled The Fly. It’s something kids and adults would love. And as I write this it’s still possible to find episodes of Fly Tales, the cartoon based on it, on YouTube.


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