The Gull Yettin (Paperback)
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The life of an orphaned boy is shaped by the devotion of a fantastical Gull in this lovingly rendered, entirely wordless graphic novel by a contemporary comics innovator.
Joe Kessler is at the forefront of European comics. Co-founder and art director of UK’s Breakdown Press, and winner of the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s Fauve Révélation for his breakthrough comic book Windowpane, Kessler rejuvenates the form once again with his vivid and moving The Gull Yettin.
Told in striking colors and loose but confident lines, The Gull Yettin’s story begins when a young boy awakens late one night to find his home on fire. The boy is saved by a lanky, shapeshifting Gull. Orphaned by the fire, and now adrift in a boat piloted by the Gull, the boy faces an uncertain future, one that will be both helped and hindered by his new attendant.
Without a word, Kessler builds a strange but recognizable world, using it to explore all the forms that grief, jealousy, longing, and love can take in our lives, and the compassion and cruelty that can dwell in a single heart. Filled with all the warmth and poignancy of a great folktale, The Gull Yettin proves that Kessler is pushing comics to new heights.
About the Author
Joe Kessler is a cartoonist and co-founder and art director at Breakdown Press, a London-based comics publisher. His book Windowpane won the Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize for First Comic Book in 2020.
"Kessler eschews the conventional materials and styles of contemporary cartooning, drawing some backgrounds with broad, rough crayon lines, for example, and others from abstract watercolor gradients that bleed into one another….Taken as a whole, 'The Gull Yettin' resembles an alien artifact, the product of an intelligence largely perpendicular to our own. But to that very extent, it represents an attempt to understand our ways of coming together, living with each other and caring for one another. In its very incongruity, it serves as an act of love." —Jacob Brogan, The Washington Post
“[The Gull Yettin] contains no text of any kind, but its wordlessness is merely the first layer of inscrutability...Kessler [crafts] large parts of this story from blobs, blotches, shapes and grids...if such an approach baffles, so too does it mesmerise, creating a wash of instinctive logic that teaches you how to read it as you go along. The result is a stunning achievement in near-subliminal storytelling. You may feel like you have to read it again to understand exactly what you’ve read —all I can say is I was more than happy to do so several times.” —Séamas O'Reilly, The Irish Times Best Graphic Novels of 2023
"The artist Joe Kessler has developed a distinct visual language for telling the story and is doing interesting things with narrative via pictures only. The Gull Yettin makes for very nice work from an artist who bears paying attention to." —Tom Bowden, The Book Beat
“[Kessler] doesn’t need words at all to hit the mood he’s aiming it, of fragile happiness and primal sorcery drawn in a wash of living colour.” —Tim Hayes, Tripwire
“This dark wordless fairy tale from Kessler (Windowpane) makes a perfect if ineffable kind of sense. . . . Transcendent and eerie, this story of the ties that bind exerts a primal force.” —Publishers Weekly
“Kessler truly leaves everything on the page, adjusting his drafting approach and rendering style to fit scenes in a way that feels almost instinctive. . . . That Kessler maintains a consistent sense of wistful melancholy through such exuberantly molting displays of artistic flash proves that, words or none at all, his talent as a writer isn't being sidelined.” —Matt Seneca, The Comics Journal
"Joe Kessler’s drawings are radical, beautiful and glimmering. The Gull Yettin is my favorite thing in contemporary comics. I love this bird!" —Anna Haifisch
"Kessler thinks of everything." —Ed Park
"Nobody told me a book could be like this: ethereal and nearly abstract, yet so legible and concrete. A page-turner, and a huge accomplishment." —Dash Shaw
"Kessler’s art is a striking mix of heavy, kinetic lines; simple but expressive faces and bodies; and a riot of mostly primary colors. . . . Mesmerizing." —Kirkus starred review