A review of Crystal Fractal Comics' Legend of the Sleeping Giant.
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Legend of the Sleeping Giant
Published by Crystal Fractal Comics
written by Dean Burns
art: Mansjur Daman
Publisher's blurb: "The Legend of the Sleeping Giant" is a First Nations legend that has seen many versions and variations across many generations in the Thunder Bay area. This version of the legend, based on a telling by an Elder of the Fort William First Nation and adapted by Dean Burns, tells the story of Nanna Bijou. He becomes cursed and becomes the sleeping giant when the silver stores he was protecting were trespassed upon. The story appears as a comic/graphic novel for the first time with this book, and Crystal Fractal Comics are proud to bring a piece of First Nations and Canadian history to a new audience.
The Legend of the Sleeping Giant is a wonderfully realized comic inspired by the long oral tradition of Ojibway myth. As in all oral traditions, it is a story that was passed down from generation to generation, having long since surpassed any memory of its originator. This version of the tale was retold, per the comic's introduction, by "an Elder of the Fort William First Nation". How closely does it resemble the original myth? It is hard to say, but what is apparent is that great care was taken in its adaptation. The comic quickly brings to mind the old Classics Illustrated comics of the past, and many of the myth-blending works of Neil Gaiman.
Like many myths of old, the tale of the Sleeping Giant is one of moral lessons. Enclosed in the overall moral tale are several smaller morality tales. But do not confuse this yarn for one that is heavy handed. Dean Burns includes plenty of action, humor and character to maintain your interest throughout the tale. The morals of this tale will not penetrate your thoughts through preaching, but more through osmosis. Upon reflection you may realize that there is something being said about the pointlessness of warfare, especially when the quarrel that started the feud has long since been forgotten by all parties; even more so when the infighting blinds one to an even more pressing threat just beyond the hill. There is also commentary regarding the difference between being at fault and being responsible, and many more.
Much of the action involves a Sioux warrior named Conquering Wolf, who is given a mission of intrigue to infiltrate the Ojibway. The last six pages of this comic are exceptionally well-conceived. While your anger may still simmer towards Conquering Wolf and the damage that ends up happening as a result of his actions, you cannot help but feel bad for him at the same time.
A lot of this depth of feeling will be aroused by the great art of Mansjur Daman. This is because Daman is NOT drawing heroes, or legends, but PEOPLE. There is a realism to them. There is true sorrow in the defeated faces of the Ojibway as they realize their lives will be forfeit unless they reveal the location of the silver. Daman also makes sure to allow Wolf's feature to evolve throughout the comic, from smug warrior to broken spirit. Helping as well is the coloring, which adds a pleasing visual mixture of realism while giving it a fantastic element through the vividness of the color. My favorite page may be page five which is a splash page of the fight between Sioux and Ojibay.
Overall, great job by all. The story teaches a lot without slamming the reader over the head with forced lessons.
Review by: Jeff Haas, Outhouse Contributor