Ernest & Rebecca 4: The Land of Walking Stones

Ernest & Rebecca 4: The Land of Walking Stones
Ernest and Rebecca 4 The Land of Walking Stones review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Papercutz - 978-1-59707-400-1
  • Volume No.: 4
  • Release date: 2012
  • English language release date: 2013
  • UPC: 9781597074001
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

As a series Ernest & Rebecca started slowly. The wonder of Antonello Dalena’s cartooning was obvious as soon as a page was seen, but once the reading began the problems with Guillaume Bianco’s writing were equally obvious. However, that was just the beginning, and Grandpa Bug was a massive improvement for telling a story rather than forcing every page to end in a joke that wasn’t often funny. Why, then would Bianco return to the original formula?

Thankfully, it’s only over the opening pages of The Land of Walking Stones, and most of the jokes are betted paced with a better payoff than earlier in the series. Having spent holiday time with her grandparents in the previous book, Rebecca is now spending the remainder of the holiday with her father in a static caravan by the seashore. The walking stones mentioned in the title are just the rocks on the shore, so don’t get your hopes up, but this delights in other respects. Bianco has ensured progression from the start of Ernest & Rebecca, and part of the early awkwardness was due to telling a story handicapped by having to have a punchline at the end of every page. That story flows far more naturally here, and there are still jokes, just included more randomly.

The problems of Rebecca’s older sister Coralie and her unfaithful boyfriend are beautifully drawn, but ordinary, lacking the charm of Rebecca’s adventures, and a new theme is Ernest baring his soul. Almost absent last time around, here he has a musical number and a couple of soul-searching scenes, which isn’t what’s expected from a microbe.

This is another artistic tour de force from Dalena. Most of the featured people have already been introduced, but his design for an older couple is eye-catching, and once again Rebecca runs through the full emotional range during the course of the book. It’s not quite as serene and pastoral as last time around, but still charming to see Rebecca learning about life.

Sadly, this is the final Ernest & Rebecca book in English, while the series has continued in European editions and the fifth volume is available digitally via Europe Comics. It’s likely the slow start scuppered the English versions, the quality of Dalena’s art not being enough, but this and Grandpa Bug are both worthwhile buys.