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Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny! Chapter 1


Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny! Chapter 1

written by Brittney Sabo and Anna Bratton, illustrated by Brittney Sabo

The DIY aesthetic is strong among young people these days, and thankfully so, because their endeavors are pushing a lot of creative work into the world. A perfect example of this is Brittney Sabo and Anna Bratton, the two young artists/writers responsible for the enchanting graphic novel FRANCIS SHARP IN THE GRIP OF THE UNCANNY!, published with the help of a Xeric Grant. Xeric Grants are funds originally set up by Peter Laird through his Xeric Foundation, and they enable up-and-coming writers/illustrators to publish their comic book projects.

In the first chapter of what will hopefully become a long series, we're introduced to Francis Sharp, a young, lazy and stubborn boy living in rural 1930s New Jersey. Francis disobeys his parents, doesn't help around the farm, and often lies. Abnormally interested in the occult, Francis is a bit of a dreamer and appears to have a rocky relationship with his hardworking farmer father. A mistake of Francis's puts his parents in debt, and when they go into town to sell some personal items to make up the money, Francis finds himself in for a rude awakening: His father decides to sell Francis's beloved radio, which he listens to a nighttime occult series on.

Left home alone and bored without his radio, Francis invites a friend over, and the two play near his home, but when Francis ventures into the woods to chase a small creature, his friend doesn't follow. Before he knows it, he's gone too far and finds himself somewhere strange and unfamiliar. Admittedly, the story of a young protagonist following an animal into the woods only to end up somewhere completely unknown isn't a new idea (hello, ALICE IN WONDERLAND), but it's Sabo's amazing black-and-white illustrations that really suck you in and make you feel like you're seeing this storyline play out for the first time. Bratton has also done a fine job of creating a well-rounded character. We sympathize with Francis, an imaginative kid who has no interest in performing the back-breaking work of his father, but at the same time it's difficult not to become frustrated with Francis, who is essentially ungrateful and unsympathetic to his parents' mounting money woes.

Sabo's artwork really shines when Francis finds himself in Valleyghast, the unfamiliar city he becomes stranded in after getting lost in the woods and hitching a ride on the back of a stranger's carriage. Not only is everyone dressed in 1800s attire, but the bizarre city is also inhabited by monsters. Francis must rely on an eccentric pair of goblin cousins to find his way back to Jersey. Technically, all of the goblins that inhabit the city seem friendly enough, but Sabo's ink drawings make them appear quite menacing, and it doesn't help that they look like a creepy human/rat/lizard hybrid.

Will Francis be stuck in this bizarre world forever? Will he ever see his parents again, and if he does, will he change his ways and apologize for being such a rotten kid? I guess we'll have to wait until the next chapter to find out.

Reviewed by Tina Vasquez on November 1, 2010

Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny! Chapter 1
written by Brittney Sabo and Anna Bratton, illustrated by Brittney Sabo

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2010
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Brittney Sabo
  • ISBN-10: 0977661687
  • ISBN-13: 9780977661688