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The Dam Keeper


The Dam Keeper

THE DAM KEEPER is a lovely little graphic novel tale from Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi. Kondo, an art director for Pixar, and Tsutsumi, who has also art directed for Pixar amongst other companies, directed a short film on which the book is based. The story follows Pig, a…well…pig who has been trained from birth to man a dam surrounding his hometown of Sunrise Valley. Outside the tall dam, a dark, deadly, man-eating fog constantly threatens to spill over and consume the inhabitants. Twice a day, Pig must wind up the windmill and blow the deadly fog away.The real story, however, starts as the fog begins acting very differently than in Pig’s father’s records. The Dam Keeper does an excellent job introducing us into Pig’s world, showing us his daily struggle as he tries, with varying degrees of success, to balance everyday tasks at school with his awesome responsibility as dam keeper. When two schoolmates, well Fox (his unrequited best friend) and Hippo (the local bully) arrive unexpectedly to see the dam, all three are swept out into the fog as a black tidal wave strikes the dam.

"The real star of the story is, unequivocally, the art....While the art alone is worth the cover price the story will keep you waiting for the second chapter."

The real star of the story is, unequivocally, the art. It is unclear who is actually producing the visuals, but it reminiscent of Vermeer in that the artist or artists seem to be painting light. From the eerie darkness of the fog, to the sunlight almost literally pouring into Sunrise Valley, lighting is the star of the show. The solemnness of the dam, the cheery school hall and the haunting corroded forests are all expertly visualized on the page. The cartooning of the characters is delightful, very simple yet highly expressive.

THE DAM KEEPER is an exciting action ride that hides a story about responsibility, family, friendship and perseverance. You’ll love the quiet moments as well as the dramatic ones. While the art alone is worth the cover price the story will keep you waiting for the second chapter. This series belongs in everyone’s library.

Reviewed by Michael Lee Harris on July 24, 2018

The Dam Keeper
by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi