Do ideas of war and enemies hold a people together? Is a culture of conflict
too seductive not to be irresistible? These are the questions Cathy Malkasian
explores in her second graphic novel, Temperance.
Malkasian creates, as she did in the critically acclaimed Percy Gloom, a fully
realized, multi-layered world, inhabited by vividly realized characters. After a brutal injury in battle, Lester has no memory of his prior life. For the next thirty years his wife does everything to keep him from remembering — and re-constructing — a society, Blessedbowl, that elevates him as a hero. Blessedbowl is a cultural convergence of lies, memories, stories, and beliefs. Its people thrive on ideas of persecution, exceptionality, and enemies, convinced that war lurks just outside their walls. They have come to depend on Lester, their greatest war hero, to lead the charge once the Final Battle begins.
What kind of enemy could topple such a people and its walls? Mere memory, it seems, as Lester gradually emerges from his amnesia. Temperance is an eyewitness’s account of recovery and awakening. The graphic novel works on two levels. It considers the concepts of violence, stories, and belief, and their place in holding a culture together, slyly echoing contemporary political issues in a nation at a stressful time currently at war with a ubiquitous enemy. Secondly, the fissures in Lester and Minerva’s marriage is echoed in the greater political upheaval around them.
Malkasian creates a densely textured social context, masterfully conveying the idiosyncratic physical domain with its spiraling structures and quasi-medieval architecture along with intimate yet plastic portraits of her characters in a rich, tonal pencil line. Temperance is a galvanizing work of empathy and violence by one of today’s most thoughtful and accomplished cartoonists.
2008 Eisner Award Winner: Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award — Cathy Malkasian
"In this powerful allegory with fairy-tale tropes but no fairy-tale means or ends, an insidious human power
is finally met and overcome at his own deadly game by that force of nature that may grow slowly but
whose vista is far-reaching: the tree. Expressive and generously detailed pencil sketches serve as an
excellent complement to the spare but exacting text to form a narrative that should cut through any
reader’s disbelief. ... Malkasian continues to demonstrate bravura storytelling skills, and here gives prominence to several
social and cultural issues without letting any of them sink the whole. ... Excellent work for both
fans and serious literary readers ready to try sequential art."
– Francisca Goldsmith, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Malkasian’s tale is like something out of a fairy tale Book of Revelations, with a strangely similar vibe to the final season of Lost. ... With Temperance, Malkasian has heightened the depth of her ideas and demanded more from her audience. It’s a religious parable, to be sure, but it doesn’t stop right there, instead going into the territory of the motivations of belief, including the roles of fear, wrongdoing and falsehoods." – John Seven, Reverse Direction
"Cathy Malkasian's Percy Gloom shines a light on a hidden world, using language and ideas that are daringly naked and vulnerable, evoking something real, rare, and relevant. Such exquisite drawing, in the service of such rich ideas, sustained for such a long, lovely dance! The world looked differently to me after I'd finished reading it." – Jim Woodring
"I love this book! Cathy Malkasian's Percy Gloom swirls with echoes of cartoon landscapes from the past and present. You can almost hear Percy Gloom's meek, docile little voice. Her writing is so full of wit and charm that we, like the title character, walk dutifully to the edge and fall in. And like Percy, we are rewarded equally with night terrors and secret treasures." – Jeff Smith
"Percy Gloom is one of the best books out this year... I can't imagine we'll see a more assured and surprising debut this year." – The Comics Reporter
"A stunning debut, filled with striking, smart ruminations on the brevity of life and happiness and the sweetness of both." – Harrisburg Patriot-News
"There's a sense of joy and creepiness on every page, and Malkasian keeps the story lively and even suspenseful as she slowly unravels the story's themes, twists and turns. The result is a new kind of 'fairy tale' with abundant charm and surprising depth." – Sequart
"Of all the graphic novels I have read this year, Cathy Malkasian's Percy Gloom is the one I have been consistently recommending to friends and family of all ages. Imagine Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth written by Tony Millionaire..." – "Favorite Graphic Novels of 2007," Largehearted Boy
"This all has the charm of something like Howl's Moving Castle or Yellow Submarine, and Percy and his friends are drawn in a lovely, old-timey way that made me smile on every page. This is a big, solid, handsome hardcover." – Cory Doctorow
"Amazing, smart, heartbreaking, and beautiful." – Kevin Church
"Malkasian's art is absolutely lovely — filled with curving, collapsing architecture rendered in sepia colored pencils.... Malkasian delivers a positive message about the ephemeral nature of life." – Dick Hyacinth, "Best Comics of 2007"
"This reads like a Kafka tale, had Kafka also been a cartoonist who trained under Edward Gorey, Richard Sala and Dave Cooper." – Chris Reilly, Bookslut "Best of 2007"
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