Review by Frank Plowright
Eoin Colfer writes the bestselling series of young adult novels starring Artemis Fowl, which are adapted to graphic novels with the help of Andrew Donkin, his collaborator for Global. It’s not many authors of Colfer’s reputation who follow their conscience to the degree of highlighting the world’s problems, yet his and Donkin’s Illegal was a heart-rending look at why people flee their homelands. Global is equally hard-hitting in personalising the effects of climate change.
An excellent panoramic illustration of an Indian coastal village being eroded by the sea both introduces one of the main characters, Sami, and explains why due to extreme poverty, the protections richer societies would put in place are such a difficult choice. A sea wall will prevent erosion, but the long time spent on construction would be time taken from fishing with the consequent devastating effect on income. Contrasting Sami’s life is fourteen year old Yuki whose life is inside the Arctic Circle in Canada. The dangers she faces are fewer, but equally deadly.
As on Illegal, Giovanni Rigano’s expressive art ensures the characters come to life, the sadness and difficulties they live with etched on faces, and their very different environments are detailed. He actually draws children as opposed to scaled down adults, which is very important in inducing the correct sympathies. Yuki is accompanied by her dog, and searching for a bear, both of which are drawn to be lively, and a scene requiring the reader to have the same distorted perceptions as Yuki is stunningly realised by Rigano.
Both Sami and Yuki’s lives are affected by climate change altering landscapes, and in both cases the sea is important. While understanding some dangers, neither child fully comprehends the necessities of safety, although indicative of the care with which Colfer and Donkin construct the characters is that Yuki being a couple of years older has greater awareness. Each child takes a trip of exploration, and although almost their entire lives are impacted by global warming, Colfer and Donkin resist hammering the point home, choosing to let readers do their own thinking about what happens. They show the difficulties while saving the explanations for a separate four page strip at the end. However, constant small touches cleverly included reinforce the situation, like Yuki coming across a Snickers wrapper in an astoundingly vast area otherwise devoid of life in a way city dwellers can’t really imagine.
Halfway through Global each child reaches a crisis point, and the writers don’t swerve away from the realism they’ve presented in order to assure the safety and survival readers will want. Nature is cruel, survival isn’t guaranteed, and the tension over a few chapters of struggle is created to be unbearable for adults, never mind the youngsters at whom Global is aimed.
Colfer and Donkin have more points to make that the motivated will look into, such as why people might arrive from Myanmar, but first and foremost this is a paired, connected story exceptionally well told. In fact there’s a beautiful touch concerning connections revealed at the end. Illegal is very good, but it’s difficult to imagine Global could have been handled better.