This month marks the release of Raptor: A Sokol Graphic Novel – the new graphic novel from legendary comic artist, illustrator and all-round visionary Dave McKean. Whilst he has a strong back catalogue of comic book work, this will be his first project featuring his own creator-owned character. The Raptor, Sokol, flickers between two worlds: a feudal fantastical landscape where he must hunt prey to survive, and Wales in the late 1800s where a writer of supernatural tales mourns the passing of his young wife. He exists between two states, the human and the hawk. He lives in the twilight between truth and lies, life and death, reality and the imagination.
McKean has dabbled in all forms of media whether it be film, TV, photography or music. However, comics have always been his first love and his body of work speaks for itself (Black Orchid, The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Sandman, Cages). One of the best things about his various projects is they are always different, whether it be genre or narrative style. Raptor continues this trend by taking inspiration from McKean’s enjoyment of contemporary nature and travel writing. Sokol is a character that alternates between human reality and fantasy, with his struggle coming from his indecision over which realm he wishes to remain, leading him to often be stranded somewhere in between. It’s a theme that has a lot of crossover with people in our world who either have a hard time discerning between reality and imagination, or desire to be stuck in an imaginary world.
As you’d expect, the art is phenomenal. McKean does a stellar job of switching between the fantasy like setting The Raptor occupies to Sokol’s more grounded world. The sequences with The Raptor evoke the feel of a nature documentary to the point you can almost imagine David Attenborough narrating it. The Raptor itself has an elegance despite the brutal nature of its hunt thanks to McKean’s skill at depicting birds and well-timed usage of certain colours (in this case red). Sokul himself has a great design that shares some lingering characteristics of The Raptor which you can see in the art, but he always seems slightly out of place compared to The Raptor who always looks right at home.
This is another strong entry in Dave McKean’s body of work and is also a major milestone with his first creator-owned character. A must-buy for long-time fans and another showcase of why McKean is held in such high regard!
Raptor: A Sokol Graphic Novel is out 29th July from Dark Horse (9781506720630, p/b, £24.99)
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