Papyrus – The Rameses’ Revenge

Papyrus – The Rameses’ Revenge
Written & Illustated by De Gieter

Like so many of the books I’ve read from Cinebook, Papyrus is new to me, yet despite my apparent ignorance has a large fan base on the continent. Written and illustrated by drawthor Lucien De Gieter (who frustratingly does not have a Wiki page, leaving my attempts at lazy further reading into him somewhat frustrated) the book runs to 31 volumes in its native tongue, and has spawned two animated series and a video game version for the Gameboy.

The titular character Papyrus is a young peasant boy, living in ancient Egypt, who possesses a magical sword and is accompanied by a cast of young friends in his adventures, most notable of whom is the Pharaoh’s daughter Theti-Cheri.

It’s an all ages book, very much in the tradition of Asterix, Blake and Mortimer, or Lucky Luke. Of those the art style is most reminiscent of the work of Albert Uderzo in Asterix, with bold lines and colours, with a larger than life and cartoony feel.

This edition – The Rameses Revenge – sees Papyrus and his young friends pitted against a group of villains who are intent of stealing the treasure of The Great Temple of Rameses II.

After leaving Theti-Cheri’s father to make a diplomatic visit, the friends sail up the Nile to visit the great temple. Failing to heed the rivers warning, Papyrus goes missing, and the rest of the party arrive to find that the temple is under attack by some treasure thieves, and Papyrus is being held as a bargaining token in order to force the High Priest to give up the temples secrets.

Of course unbeknown to them the Temple has already fallen to another set of ne’er do wells and the Princess finds herself thrown into a mysterious chamber.

She, with the help of the High Priest, finds her way out, and using his powers they take on the villains. The finale to the story is somewhat spectacular, and the pacing of the final act takes a pleasing gear change, with some beautifully illustrated larger than life comic book action.

It’s a very pleasing book, extremely child friendly and frankly, I’m disappointed I didn’t have access to this at the time I started reading similar books. The setting is catnip for young boys in particular, and the attention to detail in the illustrations would have undoubtedly had me studying each page for ages on end. The story too is gripping and fun with sound themes of friendship, bravery, and loyalty, and contains none of the more uncomfortable stereotyping in other similar books.

Although great fun and beautifully realised it fails to engage me as an adult in the way it would when younger. The story plays out at a perfect pace for younger readers, and has tons of action and adventure, and is simply gorgeous to look at, but for an older reader it’s just a little too firmly aimed at that audience to fully capture my imagination. It lacks the knowing nods to adult readers found in Asterix for example, or the complexity of Tintin’s later stories. That said I would buy this for a younger reader in a flash, and if you have them in your life, then this is a fun way of introducing them to European comic books.