Map Of Days, Robert Hunter's first graphic novel with Nobrow Press, has recently been republished with a brand new cover but the same sense of mystery and wonder that fans has come to expect from his work. After an intriguing prologue telling the origin story of the earth and introducing you to nine sacred siblings, the novel tells the modern, yet equally mystical, story of a young boy who's fascination with what lies inside his grandfather's clock leads to a shocking discovery with unthinkably otherworldly consequences.
The New Ghost - an earlier collaboration between Nobrow Press and Robert Hunter - was my first introduction to both the publisher and artist. A creative friend recommended I pick up a copy and by the time I was just a few pages into the short comic, my obsession with the work of both Nobrow and Robert had begun. After months of searching for a copy of his then sold out Map Of Days graphic novel, I never managed to find one and so was extremely excited to hear it was being republished. And it certainly hasn't disappointed as it is just as beautifully illustrated, poetically written and surprisingly structured as I had hoped. I wouldn't say this about many books, but I actually think Map Of Days would be equally intoxicating if it were just words, as it's poetic text is truly entrancing:
"They were all but united, but the time, focus and energy it had taken the creator to pull closer to the beautiful orb exhausted the sibling into a deep sleep. He awoke in uncanny surroundings, his powers greatly diminished and his love distant again. He lay immobile, incapacitated, watching her pass over him for fleeting moments, for the rest of his days"
Of course, whilst awestruck by the writing, the visuals are still the most magical element of the graphic novel. My favourite illustrators are those who manage to introduce you to an entirely new world with a single image and as soon as I saw the very first page of Map Of Days, it did just that, transfixing me from the very first panel. Accompanying Richard, the story's young protagonist, on the journey the antique-filled house, I quickly became equally curious about his grandfather's precious clock and it's mysterious contents. As soon as you enter a Robert Hunter story, you become immediately suspicious that everything is most likely far more mystical than it first seems and when the otherworldly twist does arrive - in this case a bewitching blend of fantastical fauna and magical cogs brought to life in a rich palette of emotive hues - it never fails to be anything less than breath-taking.
I recently wrote a post about my top books of 2016 and can already tell with complete certainty that this will be featuring in my 2017 edition. I am aware I always gush over Nobrow books as they do have an unbelievable eye for publishing talent, but this one is particularly special. During his exploration of the clock's hidden Narnia, Richard happens upon the Earth's face who has fallen uncontrollably in love with the Sun (writing this it sounds insane but inside Robert Hunter's world it feel just right) and this obsessive adoration is reminiscent of how I feel about this book as a whole. It took me a few years to get my hands on it and now I would move the earth to keep my beloved Map Of Days!
You can order a copy of Map of Days by Robert Hunter here.