Trapped on Zarkass (by Yann, Stefan Wul, Didier Cassegrain)

I would love to know how close this adaptation is to Stefan Wul’s original. Whether the dialogue is representative of what Wul intended, or whether great liberties were taken by those adapting it to a graphic format. It may be a case that the translation adds its own angle on the proceedings of course, and without being familiar with Wul’s original work it would be impossible to say. According to its notes (at the end of the book) the main difference is the changing of the male characters to female ones (creating the gender commentary that the descriptions focus on). These were specifically added, according to the authors, as comedy, and not as a serious critique.

Trapped on Zarkass is a parody of all that it presents in its current description, and as such it’s going to offend a great many readers who are expecting something very different from the book. Thankfully – for me – I was not one of these readers. I read purely as someone who enjoys graphic novels and particularly enjoys those that contain horror or science fiction, so the gender politics it promised was of little interest to me, while not being a specifically negative issue for me either.

The story follows two women, a scientist and an ex-con, who are travelling across a jungle planet ostensibly to catalogue the flora and fauna, but who are really tracking down a crashed alien craft that their government can use in its war against a secretive alien foe. 

The art of the book is lovely, with dense and colourful backgrounds and appealing characters that are drawn in that slightly angular style that reminds me of the work of Ian Gibson in places (of Ballad of Halo Jones fame). The script is littered with witticisms and casual obscenity that brought on more than the occasional laugh.

It’s the book’s humour that is going to make or break it to any particular reader. If you wish to read it because the description tweaks any moral sensibilities then you should avoid this book, and I do mean that in large blinking capital letters. On the other hand if the description leads to a more wry response from you, or it’s simply a subject you have no thoughts about at all, then you’ll possibly enjoy this book a great deal.

Ideally the distributors should take a long look at the way they describe works such as this. The vast majority of people who would enjoy this book would be – I think – put off by the description, and those attracted to the book because of it are not likely to like it at all. Which is a lose/lose for everyone.

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