The Rainbow Orchid: The Adventures of Julius Chancer, Volume 1

Garen Ewing clearly likes Tintin, because his Rainbow Orchid, also known as The Adventures of Julius Chancer, has much the same appeal and flavor. There’s the same globe-trotting adventure beautifully illustrated, although it’s more British in tone.

Julius Chancer is an assistant to Sir Alfred, a collector of antiquities and oddities and someone who looks for the lost and unusual. There’s an orchid competition coming up as part of the Botanical Exhibition, to be opened by visiting American actress Lily Lawrence. Various nefarious types are determined to win, which sends Chancer, Lawrence, and her studio publicist and agent Nathaniel Crumpole, off on an expedition to find the mysterious rainbow flower of the title. They’re chased by reporter William Pickle and a couple of tough guys as they finally set off for India … at which point we’re told to look for Volume 2.

That’s the biggest problem with this book, that it’s only the beginning of the mystery adventure. Ewing draws in the ligne claire (clear line) style best known for coming from Herge’s pen. There are a ton of characters in this well-populated saga, matching in detail the well-developed backgrounds that give a clear picture of the setting.

They’re pitching this for kids, although I’m not sure why — it’s a great example of what “all ages” really should mean. If you’re at all interested, instead of this volume, I recommend you get the complete collection, which also includes volume two and volume three. If you’re not yet sure, you can read a good part of the story online in comic strip format. (The pages of the book are broken down into four tiers a page.)

How could I not love a book where they ask the actress “will Lubitsch direct you?” (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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