Taking a break today to bring you a glimpse of Garen Ewing’s gorgeous full colour comic book ‘The Complete Rainbow Orchid’ a collected edition of the ‘Orchid storyline. For those seeking new comics for children I heartily recommend this as an excellent starting place! (Creator Ewing is a regular contributor to the Phoenix kids anthology title.)
The first thing you’ll notice about this book is that it’s a very loving tip of the hat to Hergé’s adventures of Tintin, and is created in a similar ligne claire style. A style of ‘clear line’ illustration with its roots in French and Belgian comic traditions.
Set in England around the 1920’s this adventure story sees our protagonist Julius Chancer and his actress friend Lily Lawrence (think British Tintin and Lillian Gish), travelling to far-flung exotic places to find the mysterious Rainbow Orchid in order to win a wager of increasingly higher stakes! It’s fast paced and exciting, and there are lots of comedic character names in the Dickensian tradition ( Greedy businessman Urkaz Grope being one of my favourites). Gone is the stuffiness of Tintin and its inherent racism (sorry Hergé), and it its place a truly multicultural world with a strong female presence, including the iconic ‘baddie’ Evelyn Crow.
The Rainbow Orchid is full of beautifully observed historic details and this collected edition features 17 pages of bonus material in the form of notes, sketches and research. To be honest this section sells it for me, I love seeing behind the scenes of illustrator’s character development and work in progress drawings. These pages are particularly lavish and I can not tell you how much I LOVE the inlay pages, different back and front, which are a collage of movie posters, tickets, newspaper cuttings, fly posters, business cards and more, all from Julius Chancer’s world. The imagination and attention to detail in all of this just speaks to how much Ewing loves his work- and I have a feeling you will too.