The Professor’s Daughter (by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert) c. 1997

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The Professor’s Daughter is a French graphic novel depicting the Victorian romance of Egyptologist’s daughter Lillian and Imhotep IV, former pharaoh of Egypt and living mummy. Humorously, Imhotep IV becomes inebriated from tea he drinks while out with Lillian and inadvertently injures a man in the restaurant. While resting at home, Imhotep IV’s children come to him in a vision, explaining that Imhotep IV’s wife closely resembles Lillian. When the injured man from the restaurant shows up with a police officer trying to press charges, Lillian mistakenly poisons and kills the men. Following this tragedy, Lillian and Imhotep IV embark on a humorous escapade to exonerate themselves.

The novel, written by Sfar and illustrated by Guibert, skillfully balances the absurdity of the plot with the faded, delicate illustrations. Guibert effectively uses subtle changes in color to switch both scenes and moods from the story.

The book takes place over a short period of time, only a matter of days. Pacing in the plot is well done and lacks lulls. However, the traditional panel layout prevents any extensive use of perspective or creative action sequences. Character development is minimal, but this is largely due to the fact that the novel is only sixty-four pages in length.

Imhotep IV and his father Imhotep III have bizarre personalities, but these do not evolve much throughout. Lillian is likeable, but at times her character is overshadowed by the presence of others. Still, Guibert’s illustrations successfully portray Lillian’s despair throughout the novel, which brings her emotional side to life. All in all, the quirky plot, absurd characters, and engaging artwork produce a respectful graphic novel.

Review by Carlen


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