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Shackleton's Journey: 09/29/15

Shackleton's Journey by William Grill: a folio sized graphic novel account of the crossing of Antartica.

For the 2014 CYBILs, I read two different graphic novel accounts of Shackleton's last expedition to Antarctica. Separately, they both seemed to miss key points. Together, though, the presented a more complete picture. I wish they were actually combined as an anthology, rather than being separate competing points of view.

Shackleton's Journey by William Grill is presented as a folio sized picture book but was still included in the graphic novel section for the CYBILs. It's 80 pages, so roughly twice the length of a normal picture book, but still on the short side for a graphic novel.

Shackleton's expedition included a lot of men and a lot of dogs. Both books include mini caricatures of each man and dog. For an oversized book, I expected better, more detailed portraits. Instead, we get thumbnail sketches that are even less detailed than those in Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi.

Earnest Shackleton
actual size is about 1/3 in. tall

What the book does better, though, is explaining Shackleton's goals, and his strengths as a leader. While the Bertozzi book goes into loving detail about the ship and what was actually done on the journey and during the time they were stuck on the ice, he doesn't try to get into Shackleton's head. Rather, he ends up painting Shackleton as selfish and incompetent.

Some key points that I only got after reading Grill's account is what the goal of exhibition was (crossing Antarctica) and how many people survived (all of them). But I wish the available space of the pages had been put to better use. The illustrations are sadly sparse.

Four stars

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