Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 143

The Octopi And The Ocean

by Dan R. James
Genre notes: history
56 pages
Buy from Top Shelf

History is a tricky thing. I mean it isn’t, really—unless you hope to suss out the truth of a matter. Then you’re basically at the mercy and whimsy of the historiographer, a breed of human known more for storytelling prowess than for commodifying fact.

These men (and women!) are little better than massagers of the plausible. Did the U.S. knowingly engaged in 19th-century chemical warfare against the citizenry of another nation composed of human persons? or did our forefathers use any practical and available means to eradicate a plague of damned, dirty savages? History! Was America founded by a bunch of born-again Christians or was our nation to be a bastion of pluralism? Did Eli Whitney invent the cotton gin or was he caught turkey-handed drinking gin made from cotton? Did the Reformation start because a town prankster named Luther nailed ninety-five bags of feces to a door in Wittenburg? These are the stories we know because historians decided to tell these stories.

Think of all the stories we’re missing out on because their writers couldn’t find publishers for whatever reason. Think of all the Facts we’re missing out on. Thankfully, Dan R. James was as disturbed by this prospect as I and saw fit to do something about it. Something amazing. In fact, he wrote and drew a book detailing just one history that you in all likelihood would never have encountered otherwise. That book is The Octopi and the Ocean and the historical tale it unravels is breath-taking and world-shifting.

You might even wet your pants in fear and joy and no undo anticipation. And then you’ll clean your pants because nobody likes a person with wet pants.

The Octopi And The Ocean narrates the events that led to the cephalopodic stewardship of our planet—and it may be a version of these events unfamiliar to most of its certain audience. Of course the foundation to James’ work was laid out in both the recent papers by Rayard and Bernson—presented at the Philadelphia conference in 1996 and 1998 (respectively). Both Rayard and Bernson made allusion to superorder selachimorpha and hinted at the reason we only find these once fearsome creatures habitating in the Caspian Sea and the freshwater gullies of the Great Lakes—as well as in numerous fastfood drive-thrus and legal offices. James also harkens back to the once-imagined-as-spurious work of Marcus O. Klebond, drafter of the 1843 philological society’s Treatise on Shellfish and Other Tasty Treats that Are Not the Octopi Who Rule This Earth with Grave Benevolence from Below the Briny Deep. (The reader will note that it was Klebond who first suggested that the Octopi had known true love and that it was this powerful monogamous affection that gave them their righteous strength.)

In any case, yes. It was Dan R. James who pieced again these clues together and forged what the back of his book describes as:

"The long-awaited true story of the octopi. With each turn of the page, the reader dives to new depths of previously well known facts of this intriguingly historic tale."

And there you have it friends. Intrigue. History. Lies. Truth. And really, how different are these things in the end. Not so much if they all make one feel so buoyant and comforted as when one turns the final page of this glorious tome and is able to revel in its mysteries and joys. Just as when we first discovered that Gerald Ford had never existed and therefore could not have been assassinated by the base coward John Hinkley.

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