The Arrival by Shaun Tan A man leaves his wife and daughter, traveling along streets shadowed with the wings and tails of giant monsters. He sails across the sea in a huge boat, arriving in a strange land to try to find work and save enough to bring his family over. The setting is mostly early twentieth century but with strong elements of the bizarre. The drawing style looks like a series of old sepia photographs. It’s told entirely without words – even the signs on the buildings are in a script that neither we nor our immigrant understands. This was all over the comics blogs Best of 2007 lists (it took me a while to get to it.) Somebody in one of the blogs I read then – I wish I could remember who – pointed out the nifty way Tan notes the passage of time. On one page, all we see is one little square after another of clouds, as we watch out the window of the steamer with the immigrant. I loved reading books about immigrants as a child, but there’s a level of being in the experience that this has that a book where I can understand the language just can’t.
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