The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar & Emmanuel Guibert

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The Professor’s Daughter
by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert
First Second Books

Joann Sfar & Emmanuel GuibertOriginally publisher in 1997, this collaboration between French artists, Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert is livelier than the story of 3,000-year-old mummy has any right to be. The Professor’s Daughter begins as a lighthearted Victorian-era love affair, between Lillian Bowell, the titular heroine, and Imhotep IV, a remarkably well-preserved pharaoh, a few millennia her senior–only to quickly transform into an equally lighthearted run from the law.

A police officer or two are poisoned, the professor is shot, Lillian is kidnapped by a second, seafaring mummy, all leading up to a climax, involving Queen Victoria being hurled off a bridge into the Thames.

The Professor’s Daughter
covers a fair amount of ground during its 64 page run, and, as if under a deadline of some sorts, the last third of the book tends to feel a touch clipped, story-wise. The book’s final page, something of an extra-short epilogue, attempts valiantly to neatly tie up the tale in five panels, but again suffers from its own writer-imposed special constraints.

It’s Guibert’s watercolor panels, which prove the true star of The Professor’s Daughter, capturing the subtle faded quality of ancient photographs, while retraining the artist’s cartoony style, perfectly suited to Sfar’s over-the-top storyline, making the occasional pacing misfire perfectly forgivable, while leaving the end of the far-too-short tale all the more lamentable.
–Brian Heater

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