I took a class on Medieval European history, and in it we learned about how Jewish people existed in predominantly non-Jewish communities. It’s been kind of a mixed bag for them–sometimes they were persecuted, accused of “blood libel”–making Matzoh with Christian childrens’ blood, among other lies- and generally harassed and attacked. Between those periods, though, they frequently found good employment and there are many examples of Jews obtaining mid-level or higher positions of authority and prestige in the towns they lived in. I remember distinctly one tale of how a few members of a community tried to oust their local Jews before the guy running the whole town told them to step off and that Jews were fine to stay there. The specifics I can’t recall, though.
In essence, the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Europe was a love-hate relationship. It wasn’t all sparkles, but it wasn’t all skull crushingly bad either. I think it was either Cordoba or Madrid where Christianity, Islam and Judaism were famously known to coexist peacefully. Yeah, pretty sure it was Cordoba.
All right, before I get more off track, let’s get on to this preview of The Golem’s Voice, by David G. Klein, which is pretty cool.
Well all right, the word preview works about as well as it would if I were previewing the finishing stages of the second Death Star. The Golem’s Voice is basically complete, its story written out, consistent art style pegged down, and a solid two thirds of its pages are complete. So in essence, you could probably count this as a review just as much as a preview. But it hasn’t found a publisher yet, so this will do. Screw it.
So The Golem’s Voice is a pretty serious tale with an interesting, almost Disney-esque art style. Set in Prague in 1944, we begin with a Jewish woman begging her two sons to run away and hide while she and others are gathered onto a train by the German occupation, slated for extermination. Yakov loses his older brother Yoakim almost immediately, before ducking into a synagogue and hiding in the attic, where he finds a clay giant made by a Rabbi in 1580 to protect the Jewish enclave from persecution by non-Jews. Following this is a series of events in which Yakov attempts to awaken the Golem a couple times, and once he does, things get nuts as he sets about putting some Germans on a ride in the Pain Train.
The writing is good, though imperfect. Hopefully in final drafts the grammar and spelling errors should be ironed out, but other than that he does a good job with dialogue. It’s a much more action oriented comic than you might expect so chatter is less frequent and more concise. The main villain of the story, a Nazi officer, is written like a cartoon villain, but I think everyone else reacts as realistically as you would expect in this story. I mean, when you live in an age when you and your friends still believe in spirits and you encounter a giant freakin’ Golem, your reaction is going to be very different from the kind you might have if you had an upbringing like, say, me. (I would probably shit my pants, renounce science and convert to Judaism, not in any specific sequence.)
The art is fantastic, even for the pages that are only half completed. Character faces communicate a lot of information. Yakov looks like a kid out of a Sunday comic strip or a Disney cartoon, with dots for eyes and chubby Jewish features, while adults are more serious in their dimensions. One woman, who is almost always angry, is defined by the rough features and ample lines covering her face. The calmer, kinder and younger guy she hides in a cave with is defined by his more intellectual appearance, with glasses, a beard and a bald scalp. The Golem Yakim finds looks like a certified badass, but the one he constructs by himself looks like a goofy, awkward, child-hulk- there’s definitely some symbolism in this work, FYI. I’ll let you read it to draw your own conclusions. Suffice to say, Klein does a great job blending a cartoony style with a darker tone.
Despite characters having more stylized faces, the detail in this art is very high. Tree leaves, falcon feathers, all of them rendered in great detail, and from the looks of it, all with pencil. Or at least, a pencil style. Either way it’s pretty damn pretty to look at. I think the banner image is a great indicator of Klein’s strengths, specifically high detail and the ability to capture motion well. It has a very turbulent feel to it that runs through the whole novel.
The Golem’s Voice is not out for public viewing just yet, but when it does come out as a graphic novel, rest assured it’ll be a very good read. So take this is as a thumbs-up for the novel ahead of time, and check out some samples of chapters 1 and 2 at Klein’s Drawger website. Also if I’m correct, Klein is still looking for a publisher, so if you’re a publisher and you’re reading this, well, what are you waiting for?
TL;DR A work in progress, The Golem’s Voice promises to be a great graphic novel in it’s completion. Check out samples now and if you know anyone who would want to publish it, share it with them.
A review PDF of The Golem’s Voice was graciously provided to Spandexless by Klein.