Lintu Mustasiipi – August von Essenin seikkailut is a 103 page graphic novel by Jukka-Petteri Eronen (the artist) & Viljami Vaskonen (the author) released earlier this month.
Full disclosure: They are members of the Guild. Obviously, I’ll try to be objective, but these are people I know, and you should know that. There isn’t an English version, so I don’t really know why I’m writing this in English, but I already began and being as lazy as I am, I’m not going back and changing the language. And no, despite Ville writing about a graphic novel from someone he knows, this isn’t blog isn’t going to turn into an ad for our friends. I’m writing this partly as a favor for friends (although they didn’t ask), but also as a public service. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think there would be someone out there, who might benefit from knowing about this book.
But onto the subject.
Our hero is a German fighter pilot from WWI, who is fed up with how things are. His attitudes are tolerated, even though he is very open about them, due to his skills and probably just due to the lack of pilots overall. He uses a new, overly enthuastic pilot to fake his own death and escape east where he lives a nomadic life of adventure. There he involved in local matters first forcibly and then voluntarily, as his help is needed.
Sounds more romantic then how its actually depicted, but there is definitely a sense of romanticism, but more about the simple life than the adventure. There’s also a certain amount realism, but not too much.
Now, first, if you are want a lot of dog fights, this is not for you. There’s one in the beginning and after that von Essen’s skills are just a device to get him into certain situations. Mostly he’s on foot.
If you want historical adventure in this era, why not? It features political turmoil in Germany, as well as the short-lived Transcaucasian Republic. It seems to be mostly about defying the powerful and the status quo. Our hero, August von Essen seems to have a morality of his own in a world, where class defines a person. He has left behind his noble roots in favor of roaming the world with other drifters, but doesn’t hold anyones status against them.
Why shouldn’t you get this book?
If you are looking just for airwar fiction, this is not for you. The mystery advertised by the publisher isn’t really a draw either. The sideplot happening back in Germany seems superfluous (although an inside source – Viljami – says they are planning a sequel, so this might be important in the future). Being cheap, I wouldn’t pay the asking price, if it wasn’t by a friend. There are some plot twists which seem unmotivated and abrupt. Minor problems with the lettering: The German double s letter (ß) looks distractingly like a ‘B’. This last one probably shouldn’t influence your decision very much, though.
Why you should get this book?
First, its a good alternative to mainstream comics. It has a very distinguishable art style, which works well with the story. The story moves in a brisk pace and takes you places you don’t normally see in fiction, despite being quite interesting. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, it seems pretty well researched and doesn’t seem to take liberties. The action is interesting and keeps moving. The main character seems real, as well, as he isn’t a superhuman, but has to rely on intellect and friends. The print run is small (not that I know big these usually are), so you should get one before its gone.
Overall, I fall on the plus-side, although – as I said – I’m cheap and I’d wait for it to go down in price, but than again, the print run is quite small, so it might not be available at a lowered price at any point, unless its a hit, but I wouldn’t count on that due to probable lack of publicity. Hobbyists will probably be aware of it, but I doubt too many people outside of those circles will find it.
Lintu Mustasiipi on Arktinen Banaani.