Mezolith (2010)

‘Mezolith’ is a stunningly beautiful and evocative graphic novel, according to its Amazon page one of The Times’s graphic novels of 2010, and you can see why. The archaic, primitive, mythical stories are by Ben Haggarty. The wonderful, inspirational graphic illustrations are by Adam Brockbank.

‘Mezolith’s 90 or so pages are divided into 6 chapters or stories, featuring a pre-teen boy, Poika, who lives with the 30 or so-strong  Kansa tribe in a temperate land some 10,000 years ago. These are Stone Age people. They hunt with spears and bows and arrows. They have initiation ceremonies in caves decorated with bison paintings and hand outlines. There are shamen and legends. There is a correct way to kill and skin game in order to respect the great god Uljas.

In a very small space the narrative cannily packs lots of incident, both in human time and in the dreamtime of the ancestors, their myths and legends. The love story of the doomed swan-woman is beautiful. Her burial is obviously carefully based on real archaeological finds, the folding up of the beloved’s body, the scattering of precious possessions…

Extracts from The DFC Library: Mezolith, published by David Fickling Books. Story by Ben Haggarty, artwork by Adam Brockbank.

Extracts from The DFC Library: Mezolith, published by David Fickling Books. Story by Ben Haggarty, artwork by Adam Brockbank.’

And Adam Brockbank’s images wondrously bring the narratives to life, selecting snapshots from each scene, just the most telling details, especially from the natural world. I’ve rarely seen a flying swan depicted so vividly. And a close-up of the terrified eye of the hunted bull as it wallows to its death in the swamp. Ravens flying overhead. A ghostly owl looking down onto the human story.

They were selling ‘Mezolith’ at the British Museum shop outside the Ice Age exhibition which i visited a few weeks ago but, by pure coincidence, my son picked up a copy at our local library, read it in a sitting and lent it to me. It puts into a vividly-imagined context lots of the artefacts in the exhibition. (There’s a striking picture of the hunters using spear launchers, just the kind which the exhibition featured.) It’s a wonderfully thought-provoking, deeply-felt and beautiful book.

Cover of the 'DFC Library: Mezolith', published by David Fickling Books. Story by Ben Haggarty, artwork by Adam Brockbank

Cover of the ‘DFC Library: Mezolith’, published by David Fickling Books. Story by Ben Haggarty, artwork by Adam Brockbank

Buy ‘Mezolith’ on Amazon

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