Print Reviews
The Octopi and the Ocean
by Dan James
Top Shelf Productions / Ghostshrimp Press (2004)
The Octopi and the Ocean
10 / 10
In this largely wordless fable (save the narrative framework at the beginning and end), Dan James spins a truly epic yarn with ease, fluidity and great accomplishment. The Octopi and the Ocean makes beautiful use of positive and negative space and free-form sequential art, allowing the reader to delve into the story without the visual distraction of extraneous world balloons. And what a story it is!

This is the true tale of an unloved, oblong boy who finds himself thrown in the middle of a timeless battle between the octopi and the sharks for control of the planet’s oceans. When kidnapped by a school-bus-driving octopus in disguise, the boy must help recover an ancient artifact from the sharks to restore peace to the majestic race of the octopi and fulfill his human destiny. It's strangely fantastic, it's exciting, it's animated and it's damned funny.

Dan James has a lot to say in a quick 56 pages and his attention to detail speaks volumes. I couldn’t help myself and I read it twice in a row on the first sitting and to my enjoyment found minor subtleties in characters and scenes that escaped inspection on the first pass. These subtleties added new depth to the story, expanding the character development in strange new ways. I’d give you some examples but I’d hate to spoil it for you. Finding these intricacies is all part of the experience and the depth of the story depends largely on your personal observations. As a story-telling device, it’s extremely engaging making The Octopi and the Ocean a powerful read.

It’s easy to see why this imaginative 8” x 8” mini won James a Small Print Expo 2004 Ignats Promising New Talent Award nomination. Printed in crisp deep-blue ink it’s a thick filled monochromatic masterpiece of figurative imagery. Bind all of this together in a heavy cardstock cover and you’ve got one of the best graphic novellas I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. I’d like to conjure up some snappy tag line that incorporates “octopi” or the “ocean” but instead I'll say simply: if you’re looking for a lively escape from the daily routine you should get your tentacles, err, hands on this as soon as possible.
Posted by: Justin Blemly

Print Reviews (March 24th, 2005)