#49 – The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot


The Tale of One Bad Rat is one of the shortest books in the entire top 100 list but don’t be fooled by its mere four issue run – this book has some of the deepest themes out of any in the list. This isn’t light reading; like many great books it is a story that takes you to some dark places and makes scathing comments on the grim reality of the world we live in.

The story of One Bad Rat is about Helen Potter, one of hundreds of Beatrix Potter references scattered through the book, and she is young girl who runs away from home to escape a mother doesn’t care about her and an abusive father. In her journey across the country, which takes her to London and the Lake district, she has to face some of the dangers you would imagine wait a young girl on her own and this is where the tale is at its darkest.

Depending on the kind of graphic novels you usually read, One Bad Rat will probably be a completely new experience for you. It has no fantasy elements, no super heroes, and all of the locations and characters within it were drawn from real life by the author Bryan Talbot. Consequently, the ‘real’ feel of the characters is conveyed within the book and it means you feel drawn to Helen and you really care about her struggles.

The writing in One Bad Rat is superb, its artwork is beautiful and simplistic, and the story has something to say about the world. It really is a must-read for every graphic novel fan, even if fantasy and superheroes are usually your thing. If you enjoy this I’d also recommend picking up Alice in Sunderland which was also written by Bryan Talbot and came in at #89 in my list.