THE NIGHT, O LORD, IS STILL THE REALM OF BIRDS OF PREY.
THE DAWN THAT WILL BRING ME DEATH IS FAR AWAY.
GRANT ME THIS, MY KING: THAT TO BRIGHTEN THE HOURS AHEAD
I MIGHT RECOUNT STORIES ANCIENT AND RARE
TILL THE NEW DAY ROBS ME OF SPEECH AND BEING.
Sharaz-De: Tales from the Arabian Nights is a long series of unimaginable stories that began with a king destroyed by his queen’s infidelity, he changed into a cruel king who hated woman and decreed that every day a woman of age will be sent to his bed and on the next morning, she was beheaded. After a long while, Sharaz-de decided to go to the king and offer herself to him. But unlike the poor women before her, she began to weave a story to entertain the king until dawn breaks. The king became captivated by her tales and he let her live. This continued with every single chapter in this book.
Like the King, I was utterly captivated and overwhelmed by the work of Sergio Toppi. It took me days to finish this graphic novel because every chapter in this book was breathtakingly well-drawn with poetic words and literature. All but two of the chapters in this book was cleverly drawn by black ink and heavy lines and details while the other two was cleverly managed by watercolour painting that invoke elusive quality of a dream in his stories with extensive details as he did with his craftmanship. Toppi had managed to bring his masterful skills with his medium, bringing to life surreal stories that was embedded with realism.
Every human and non-human characters were exquisitely detailed from every wrinkles, expressions and emotions that had painstakingly obvious in each and every pages. Every technical lines brought out the realistic tones and shadings. He cleverly uses white space to provide dimension and chaotic elements to create the details on his characters and the extensive settings.
Although the novel was intensely filled with African elements in character and setting details, the core of this novel doesn’t distract the interpretative and poetic details of the Persian stories. I utterly enjoyed the darker depth the stories was portrayed in ink and the fantasy elements and often cautionary and foreboding tales were cleverly written in the dialogues and the art that made reading through the graphic novel as an experience itself.
Having tried reading the original 1001 Arabian Nights, Toppi’s graphic novel was the perfect companion that rivalled Yoshitaka Amano‘s work on Arabian Nights. It’s a great collectible item and are sought by many of his fans across continents. A master of his art, Toppi is certainly an artist of great potential.
The ARC is gratefully supplied by the publisher Archaia and the graphic novel will be published on 13th November 2012.