‘The Encyclopedia of Early Earth’ by Isabel Greenberg

My rating: 4 stars

I’m fairly sure that in the future I’ll remember The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg as the book that put me on the path to read more graphic novels. This is a beautifully published book about love, storytelling, Gods, myths and how traditional tales are passed on from generation to generation in various parts of Early Earth (the fictional planet that was at the inception of our own).

One day a Nord man and a South Pole woman meet and promptly decide to marry, as they believe to be soulmates. However, they soon realise that they can’t come within two-foot radius of each other because of a peculiar magnetic repulsion. That surprises even the wise man of the South Pole, since according to the laws of physics they should attract each other, being from opposing poles. They end up marrying nevertheless and spend part of their days telling stories to each other.

Throughout the graphic novel, we are told how the Nord man managed to get to the South Pole and why he decided to embark on that journey, as well as discover some of the people who inhabit Early Earth and their traditional tales. It all started when the three sisters of Summer Island found a baby boy on the bank of a river and some magic was added to the mix.

One of the most interesting aspects of this graphic novel is the connection we can establish with the real world. Some of the myths and religious tales of particular regions of Early Earth were inspired by our own, such as the Noah’s Ark and the Babel Tower. There is also a resemblance between the real history of humanity and what one God expects to happen in Early Earth:

“Once humans start exploring there’ll be no stopping them. They’ll start trading and discovering and soon they’ll think themselves so high and mighty they won’t believe in us.”

Beautiful drawings, using an attractive colour palette, accompany a plot which is quite simple, but fully engaging and occasionally funny. My only complaint is that I would have liked to know more about how the Nord man and the South Pole woman made their relationship work.

After finishing The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, I completely changed my mind about not liking graphic novels that much. I just hadn’t find one that I considered interesting enough and whose drawings and colours I loved. They are still not one of my favourite genres, but I now really want to read more graphic novels and comics in the future.

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