Graphic Novel Review: To Build A Fire

To Build a Fire by Chabouté, Based on Jack London’s Classic Story. Translation by Laura Waters. Gallery 13 / Simon & Schuster, 2018. 9781982100827. 62pp.

An overconfident newcomer to Alaska and his dog walk through the frozen Yukon, headed for camp. He’s distracted by thoughts of warmth and food. The dog, of course, can’t tell its master how much the cold worries it.

I can’t think of another comics illustrator as gifted as Chabouté. This short graphic novel combines the best elements of his Alone (an exploration of the mind of an isolated man) and his adaptation of Moby Dick (the time period, and strong, quick characterizations) with a sense of struggle and cold to perfectly express the short story by Jack London. (And maybe this is weird, but I was struck by his perfectly drawn birch trees. And his sticks! Every detail of this book looks perfect.)

Worth noting: this graphic novel could save your life if you’re given to wandering in frozen landscapes alone.


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