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Red: A Haida Manga [Hardcover]

Michael Yahgulanaas
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 14 2009

An innovative graphic novel, Red is the epic tale of a Haida hero, his rage and his quest for retribution.

Referencing a classic Haida oral narrative, this stunning full-colour graphic novel documents the powerful story of Red, a leader so blinded by revenge that he leads his community to the brink of war and destruction.

Set in the islands off the northwest coast of B.C., it tells the tale of orphan Red and his sister, Jaada. When raiders attack their village, Red, still a boy, escapes dramatically. But Jaada is whisked away. The loss of Jaada breeds a seething anger, and Red sets out to find his sister and exact revenge on her captors.

Red blends traditional Haida imagery into a Japanese manga-styled story. Tragic and timeless, it is reminiscent of such classic stories as Oedipus Rex, Macbeth and King Lear.

This innovation in contemporary storytelling consists of 108 pages of hand-painted illustrations. When arranged in a specific order, the panels of the narrative create a Haida formline image four metres long. The sequence for this complex design is displayed on the inside jacket.

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"Red delights me beyond measure. Author and artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas has created a new art form -- Haida manga -- that honours his heritage as well as the Japanese friends of his ancestors." (Fast Forward Weekly 2009-10-15)

"Adapted from a Haida legend Yahgulanaas heard growing up, Red tells the story of a young man obsessed with revenge against the raider who kidnapped his younger sister. More memorable then the story, however, is the art. Yahgulanaas blends these two distinct styles together into something wholly original." (National Post 2009-10-17)

"[Red] offers a glimpse into another culture and effectively captures the malleability of a folk tale, its capacity to shift and transform during multiple tellings." (Booklist 2010-03-15)

"An innovative, striking twist on the traditional Haida narrative, Red is the tale of an orphaned Haida leader determined to exact revenge on his sister's captors at any cost. Set in BC's northwest islands, the story invites comparisons to classic tragedies such as Oedipus Rex and King Lear. The book includes 108 hand-painted colour plates that combine Haida designs with the modern, stylistic features of Japanese manga." (Granville Magazine 2009-12-01)

"Red refers to a classic Haida story dealing with war and revenge. Yahgulanaas began work on Red during the George W. Bush era. He felt the story served as a suitable allegory for Bush's leadership style. Red consists of 108 pages of hand-painted illustrations, but it's more than a collection of bound pages. Its original form was that of a mural 4.5 metres long by two metres wide. In his notes at the end of Red, Yahgulanaas writes, 'I welcome you to destroy this book.' It's an invitation to reconstruct the work of art in the style originally intended. Yahgulanaas suggests that Haida art is 'about restrictions and expression within these restrictions.' It's something he describes as a code, a style of compression and expansion that he equates to a waterline between tide and shore." (Vancouver Sun 2009-12-04)

"This Haida manga intriguingly blends graphic storytelling with a fine art sensibility...Yahgulanaas communicates via an arresting series of images evoking the traditional visual arts of the Haida people...A unique work with appeal both for those looking for something different in graphic novels, and for those with an interest in the expression of contemporary Native American culture." (Publishers Weekly 2010-03-15)

"In recent years, Nicoll Yahgulanaas has turned to the development of an art form he calls Haida Manga, and Red, his latest publication in this style provides another perspective on Haida culture. Fusing the bold primary colours and geometric forms characteristic of classical Haida visual art with the emotionally expressive cartooning style of Japanese manga...the traditional Haida story, freighted with all the sombre inevitability of Sophocles, is told in 108 pages of spectacularly beautiful, hand-painted images." (Vancouver Review 2010-08-11)

About the Author

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas challenges native stereotypes through illustrative story telling. His artwork is informed by many years of dedication to public service and political activism, mostly on behalf of the Haida. Yahgulanaas creates pop-graphic narratives that riff on traditional Haida stories and painting techniques, and developed "Haida Manga"—the distinctive art form for which he is widely known. A trickster-like sense of humour contributes to his work’s appeal. Yahgulanaas’ books include Flight of the Hummingbird, A Tale of Two Shamans, The Last Voyage of the Black Ship, Hachidori, and—most recently—Red, a graphic novel published by Douglas & McIntyre in Fall 2009.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas has exhibited in several major galleries, including the Bill Reid Gallery, the McMichael Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology, the Glenbow Museum, and the National Arts Center in Ottawa. His Haida Anime "Flight of the Hummingbird" is featured on YouTube. For the past two decades, besides developing his unique visual style, Yahgulanaas has spent most of his time working with other Haida people to prevent their homeland, Haida Gwaii, from being logged. Yahgulanaas lives on Bowen Island, British Columbia.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art meets Haida oral narrative March 16 2011
A full-colour manga by

Michael Nicoll Yahgulunaas from British Columbia is a magical experience of superb art and impressive narrative. The original artwork rich with expression and appropriate detail, reflects Haida art and culture. Fluid frames capture swirling water, pensive characters and amazing body language. A timeless story exploring the tragic outcome of seeking revenge is richly illustrated. Fantastic!
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