Written/Drawn/Designed By: Chris Spalton
The Eelman Chronicles is Chris Spalton’s tribute to his father “Spalt”, the last traditional Eel catcher in the UK, and love letter to The Fens in which he plies his trade. Spalt’s adventures take us through his near brush with desperate criminals, his escapades with royalty, his battles with the Golden Eel and provides absolute proof that Eelmen and ferrets do not good bedfellows make.
I’ll be honest and say I was dubious when I picked this up but having read (and re-read) this book, packed with warmth, humour and genuine love for its subject matter, I can confirm that it’s an absolute joy.
I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting either Chris or his father but I’ve known enough real old-school craftsmen and tradesman to feel a real ring of honesty in the stories and the humour behind some of them. And, having known the children of traditional fishermen when I was growing up I can empathise with the good-natured frustration that Chris expresses at some of his dad’s more unusual traits.
I really liked the layout of the book. The mixture in format of the stories, historical photos and tongue-in-cheek games/ activities reminded me of the creator owned comics I consumed as a teenager, especially Viz (please don’t take offence at that comparison Chris, it’s meant as a compliment), just one more thing that made me feel like he has really put his heart into this.
Chris Spalton’s obvious passion for his subject aside, this is a well-written, articulate book with, some great laugh out loud moments. This could easily have fallen flat, as writers we’re often told “write what you know” and there’s some serious pitfalls there in finding something there that others will find interesting or funny. Spalton however has managed to sidestep these gracefully and, with both the admiration and irreverence that only a son can have for his father, has produced something that Spalt should rightly be proud of.
So if you’re looking for a little local culture, an insight into the world of a dying art, or even just an entertaining read then pick this up and give Spalt a chance!
You can grab yourself a copy of The Eelman Chronicles in print or digital from Spalton’s Online Store (CLICK HERE).
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek