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The Tale of One Bad Rat [Paperback]

Bryan Talbot
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Jan 1996
Running away from the nightmare of sexual abuse, Helen Potter finds herself treading in the footsteps of the children's storyteller, Beatrix Potter. Across the decades, two lives touch, and Helen discovers that the strength of two is far greater than that of one.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (19 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852866896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852866891
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 16.9 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"'It would be easy to simply categorise The Tale of One Bad Rat as a fine fiction about overcoming the effects of abuse. And it is that, but it is more than that: it's a lovingly crafted story about, in the end, the meaning and value of fiction and art, about what we take from the past, and what we bring to the future. With it, Bryan Talbot moves into the front rank of writer/artists.'" (Neil Gaiman)

"An ingenious, intertextual narrative that interweaves the charming, whimsical and, above all, the English vision of Beatrix Potter with a vision of England as it has become; the soft juxtaposed with the savage; Peter Rabbit lost in Cardboard City. Thoroughly excellent." (Alan Moore) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


`Beautiful artwork and finely observed dialogue...a justly celebrated work' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful tale 15 Jan 2001
One Bad Rat is a beautiful comic, entirely unlike anything I have seen before. With no fantasy elements (well, apart from the giant imaginary rat) the story stands on the telling and the art. A young girl escapes her abusive father and unloving mother, running first to London and then the Lake District, where she finds a surrogate family. It all sounds like a TV movie, but is far superior to subject of the week fodder. The story is less melodramatic, the detail better observed, the colour more vivid and (yes) the acting is more believable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ratus Graphicus 8 Aug 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very nicely produced hardback edition collecting together the whole story.

I ordered it based on the reputation of the book from blogs and the like and I was not disappointed. In fact, I sat up late to read all the way to the end.

First published in 1995, the plot is now perhaps a little less surprising and shocking than it was back then, but it remains a very moving story, with characters that feel real and that you care about.

Like a good thriller you find yourself hoping the story will go in a certain direction while simultaneously fearing the opposite. It is highly effective and moving stuff.

By mistake I ordered two copies, but in fact that has turned out to be a good thing because it is one of those books you will want to pass on to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bryan Talbot's name is most associated with 200AD comic, as he provided strips for Blaine, Nemesis The Warolck and Judge Dredd. But after several years of superheroes and the supernatural, he wrote and drew The Tale Of One Bad Rat, a beautifully scripted and rendered voyage of a young girl doing battle with the spectre of sexual abuse.

The story starts with Helen homeless on the platform of Tottenham Court Road tube station, begging for change and being harangued by an over-zealous Christian crusader. After encounters with a trio of prostitutes and an amorous and sleazy MP, she falls in with some well-meaning but occasionally volatile squatters. Events take a sudden turn for the worse, and she hitches out of London when her recent past starts catching up with her. From this point it's a visual and personal tour-de-force, as Helen begins to work on the source of her demons against the stunning backdrop of the Lake District.

As Alice In Sunderland (one of Bryan Talbot's later books) focused on the links between Sunderland and Lewis Carroll, One Bad Rat ties itself with the life, works and movements of Beatrix Potter. The title and cover both pay homage to the range of books penned by Potter, and Helen has a long-standing obsession them. Furthermore, a series of enounters and locations in the Lake District echo her life and movements through that part of the country, which is where she drew a lot of her inspiration.

The Tale Of One Bad Rat is still in print, and is a comic I can't recommend enough. It's wonderfully written, with a good deal of research into and, more importantly, sensitivity to the obviously charged subject matter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tale of one brave girl 2 Oct 2010
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
A 16 year old girl called Helen Potter leaves home, running from an abusive father and a mother who doesn't care. She finds herself begging on the streets of London and, along with her pet rat and a bag full of Beatrix Potter books, she begins a journey similar to Potter's out of her horrible situation into a place where she is safe and happy both in mind and body.

Bryan Talbot does a fantastic job depicting the horrors of street life in London. The sprawl, the crazies who are out there preying on the young and vulnerable, and those who would help them, namely those in similar circumstances albeit somewhat older. Talbot also deals with the issue of abuse delicately and yet brutally as well. We see the circumstances in which it happened and how it affected Helen. The psychological damage it does to a young mind is written clearly and honestly so those who haven't been abused (eg. me) could follow and begin to understand the victim's feelings.

Talbot also throws out facts about rats and their history, as well as the life story of Beatrix Potter. Helen's journey takes her to the Lake District which was Potter's home for many years and he draws absolutely stunning landscapes of the area. He also puts together a Beatrix Potter-esque story at the end of the book "written" by Helen. The artwork throughout is brilliant with Talbot opting for the first time to use human models to draw from to add an extra dimension of reality to the story.

Why this is labelled "Young Adult" is insulting as anyone should be able to read this without being put off that it might be "childish". It's a searingly honest look at a taboo issue in our society and deserves a wider audience than simply "young adults".

A brilliant and moving comic book from one of the masters of the medium, Bryan Talbot's "The Tale of One Bad Rat" is an utterly engrossing and wonderful read. Highly recommended.
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