Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Courageous Climb--Mighty Jack And The Goblin King Blog Tour

We've all experienced those moments when the end result of a situation is in question.  A ball is pitched, the batter swings and hits.  The ball soars, seemingly suspended in the air.  Everyone in those few seconds wonders if it is a home run.  Dark clouds swiftly move across the sky, wind whips weeds, leaves and branches, thunder rumbles and there is a flash of lightning.  With a pounding heart you wonder if you will reach shelter in time.  These and numerous other circumstances happen every single day.  And usually we don't have to stand by for long to get an answer.

In works of fiction these cliffhanger scenarios can be particularly tense because readers may have to wait until a sequel or companion title is published.  You are so caught up in the action you don't realize you have come to the last page until astonished you stare at the final words.  You simply can't believe it!  This is exactly what happens in Mighty Jack (First Second, September 6, 2016) written and illustrated by Ben Hatke.  This wild variation on Jack and the Beanstalk leaves you wanting more as soon as possible.  Let me tell you, the second title, Mighty Jack And The Goblin King (First Second, September 5, 2017), is an equally rip-roaring ride in the unexpected.  It is worth every second of the wait.

I'm trying!
Use my shoulder
to--That's it, now--
I wonder-
I wonder where we are?
Let's find out. 

Jack and his friend Lilly are in pursuit of the ogre who captured Jack's little sister Maddy.  They have been climbing a beanstalk but where it goes is out of this world...literally.  This beanstalk acts as a bridge between worlds suspended in space.

Before they can even catch up with the ogre, a mischief of evil rats causes the separation of Lilly and Jack.  Against all instincts, Jack has to leave Lilly, injured and lying hundreds of feet beneath him.  Saved and healed by goblins ousted from their castle by giants and those rats, Lilly realizes the goblins expect her to marry their king.

Finding a way into the castle with assistance from ones he saves, Jack is horrified by the fate in store for his sister.  Her blood and bones will serve to help the giants maintain control of the castle, a nexus point between worlds.  If the device being heated is not feed a human when it is ready, it will explode.  Even Phelix, a dragon friend whose appearance is timely and uncanny, can't help Jack save Maddy.

Beneath the castle, in the sewers, a battle wages, with a spectacular and surprising result.  Laws governing goblins are strange and wonderful. Within the castle, Jack faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  A din grows and a machine growls.

There are battles, physical, mental and emotional, choices and sacrifices.  Nothing will ever be exactly normal for the trio again.  Adventure is there waiting...and needing their presence.

There is nary a doubt about the heart of Ben Hatke.  With each beat his gift as a storyteller is made visible through his words (and his art).  His characters reside in worlds conducive to the events in which they find themselves.  It is the very definition of high adventure.

In this volume we see Jack and Lilly as comrades with a common goal even though for a significant part of the narrative they are engaged in separate secondary tales.  These story lines allow them to mature emotionally as tough choices are presented to both of them.  When Hatke brings them together again, they are a stronger team.

What readers will appreciate is the sense of humor which surfaces throughout this story.  Not only are the conversations in which it appears funny but they contribute to the exquisite pacing.  As the story is told another treat for readers is the marvelous manner in which Hatke answers previous questions weaving every thread together to fashion a fantastical fabric.

 When you look at the front of the jacket and case of this title, you know Jack, his sister Maddy and Lilly will be in a fight for their lives.  You wonder about the glowing-eyed creatures and the rats.  Are they friend or foe?  What kind of place contains all those pipes?  A page turn reveals Jack and Lilly standing on the enormous beanstalk, now no longer going up but across.  A wordless, two page spread opens the story with a single, gloved hand reaching through vines and rocky cliffs.

The art for this book was drawn on laser printer paper with Sakura Pigma Micron pens (sizes 005, 01, 05, and 08) over lightly colored pencil.  Colors were accomplished digitally using Photoshop.

Most of the panels are framed in a wider white border but their sizes and shapes vary to keep our eyes moving at the same cadence as the story.  Sometimes Hatke has images with no words to emphasize a point.  He may place one or more smaller illustrations over a large two-page picture.

I have many favorite images but I can't tell you about some of them without spoiling the story, which I would never do.  In one of the scenes in which you find yourself cheering, we seen a group of goblins in a chamber with Lilly.  They are garbed in cloaks, tunics, helmets and armor and some have swords.  Lilly has just adjusted her wedding attire.  Her stance is determined as is her expression.  She says

Bring me a sword.

To date I have read Mighty Jack And The Goblin King written and illustrated by Ben Hatke twice.  There are specific sections which I have read over and over and over again.  Hatke never fails to entertain and surprise us.  His characters, with their strengths and weaknesses, are inspirational to the core.  This title as well as Mighty Jack is going to be very popular.  I would have multiple copies available.  I am already acquiring some for my Halloween giveaway.

If you desire to learn more about Ben Hatke and his other work please visit his website and Tumblr pages by following the links attached to his names.  At the publisher's website you can view several interior illustrations.  You will enjoy watching this video in which Ben Hatke talks about this work.

To visit other blogs participating in this tour follow this link to First Second to get a full list.

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