The Plague and Dr Caim Graphic Novel Review
Doctor, Doctor, give me the news…
We all know about the plague, right? We all know about the sinister beaked masks, the leeches, the posies, and the buboes? Well, The Plague and Dr Caim is here to offer us another look at the pandemic that devastated the world in an inordinately elegantly put together graphic novel. Who knew the bubonic plague could be so beautiful?
The Black Death cometh
The Plague and Dr Caim follows the story of Dr Caim, a plague doctor working through the height of the Black Death, four square panels at a time. It is Dr Caim’s mission to cure and save as many people as he can from the terrible disease, but he is fighting a losing battle.
Unusual, simple, and modern, The Plague and Dr Caim surprised and delighted me. The very definition of “less is more”, this graphic novel is a lesson in evocative storytelling. The few words we get are so well curated that they are almost poetry:
“To die well is to die gladly and wilfully.”
It seems I am not skilled in death.
Dr Caim is not so able
The Plague and Dr Caim works with an art style that conjures up Polly Nor vibes – unwieldy with a quiet but perfectly placed sense of discomfort. Yet it is this simple, deliberate style that is so incredibly effective and that works perfectly as a vessel to tell a haunting story of tragedy, strong will, and acceptance.
What I loved about The Plague and Dr Caim is the fact that it is so different than a lot of the pieces that arrive in the inbox, and you can feel the pride in that. It’s hard to retell a centuries-old story in a new and elegant way, but The Plague and Dr Caim does so with elegant ease. A labour of love and passion, this graphic novel tackles a topic rarely rendered in art (because, y’know, it’s a bit grim) and makes it beautiful without removing the true nature of the events.
Refreshingly different and charmingly absorbing, poignant and entertaining, The Plague and Dr Caim have so much to offer in so many ways. It’s a history lesson with a soul and a heart. This graphic novel personalises victims who have always been reduced to a figure of an unfathomable number. Throw out your textbooks and put this in classrooms instead – everyone who reads it will be better for it.