Eugenie Shark is a comic book biography of scientist Eugenie Clark, a Japanese-American ichthyologist Eugenie Clark and a pioneer in marine life research. It’s a passion project of Nicole Marie Burton, cartoonist and publisher at Ad Astra Comix.
I like these kinds of biographies. Those that integrate the biographer’s life to the story. It’s not completely a straightforward biography of a subject since it’s also an exploration of various topics of interest for the biographer. This effectively blurs the lines between biography, essay and autobiography. It’s a relatively popular biographical style since the last decade or so in French biographies. Benoit Peeters biographical work is a good example of this. In Derrida, Peeters sets about to make the biography of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, but he also chronicles the process of writing the biography and his life during the process from research to publication. He talks about Derrida, almost as a second thought, even though he is the reason this book is being made in the first place. Burton doesn’t go that far in this direction, but she uses her own experience, and the impact Eugenie Clark had on her life to talk about her subject.
There’s a lot of things to like in Eugenie Shark on a story level, but from a creative perspective, this comic is great. The colour palette Burton uses in this is exceptional, reflecting the subject of ocean wildlife perfectly. Wonderful gradient blue is used to depict the complexity of the ocean’s colours, with a darker blue the deeper you go. Her use of yellow for the rest also allows for beautiful contrasts with the wildlife and the water. Her page composition is also interesting, there’s no panel, it’s loose, and yet well structured. Then there’s the lettering, Burton made a font out of her own handwriting and it looks great.
by Nicole Marie Burton
Philippe Leblanc is a Canadian comics journalist. In his regular life, he improves Canadian medical education, and is the co-host of the Ottawa Comic Book Club. He reads alternative, indie and art comics at night and write about them for the Comics Beat.