Eye of Newt HC
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 28, 2015
Price: $17.99
Creator: Michael Hague
Format: 112 pgs., Full-Color, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-6165-5516-0
Age Ratings: 8 and up
ICv2 Ratings: 3 Stars out of 5

Michael Hague, one of the finest of modern fantasy illustrators, originally conceived this project as an illustrated book.  It should have stayed in that format.  Hague, not normally a writer, could easily have collaborated with one to create an end product which told a better story, leaving him to focus on a smaller number of pieces of his normally outstanding art.  In this case, his art appears rushed in order to create the number of panels for the graphic novel, and his writing is less than polished.

In terms of writing, Hague frequently tells the reader things rather than shows them.  Narrator and character descriptions gloss over scenes in bizarre ways.  The reader never sees these scenes, instead only reading mentions in passing.  Done well, that can still work in prose.  For a graphic work, this is a great flaw, and a sign of timid editing.  For much of the story the main character, Newt, is a passenger carried along by magical beasts and magical artifacts, which weakens his character development as well as the story.  Too much happens by author fiat or dream logic, rather than by natural flow of story.  The payoff on the meaning of the title is simply a bad joke, not worth the wait.

The notes in the back, showing the original sketches, provide a bonus for anyone interested in Hague's art.  These sketches are often better than the finished color versions.

If you just read the story for the lovely visual design work, then you will get your money's worth and more.  As a graphic novel, though, it is a disappointment.

Suitable for older kids and up.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.