Darwin’s Diaries 1: The Eye of the Celts. Graphic Novel Review

Darwins_Diaries_Vol1DARWIN’S DIARIES 1 – THE EYE OF THE CELTS by Sylvain Runberg, Eduardo Ocaňa & Tariq Bellaoui

Cinebook, pb, £6.99.


Reviewed by Selina Lock


It is 1860 and Charles Darwin has published his latest theory to much uproar from the scientific and religious communities. Meanwhile, a vicious predator is killing workers laying a new railway line in Yorkshire. Darwin’s skills as a naturalist are called upon by the Prime Minister to identify the unknown animal and stop superstitious rumours from spreading.


The main storyline surrounding the mysterious creature and gruesome deaths is set against a volatile political backdrop. Women’s rights, worker’s rights, the march of industrial progress and its capitalist drivers are all touched upon. Druidism, local beliefs and a darker side to Darwin are also thrown into the mix.


The artwork is intricately detailed and does a superb job of representing the Victorian era, with muted colours that match the atmosphere of the story. The portrayals of the main characters are distinctive and expressive.


I was a little surprised to find Yorkshire being presented as an exotic location for wild beast attacks, but as Darwin himself says in the story “proximity doesn’t exclude the unexpected…” As Cinebook specialise in translating European comic books and this was originally a French publication it also gives us a non-British perspective on the idea and era.


I suspect those with an interest and wide knowledge of Darwin may not take kindly to certain aspects of his characterisation, but I assume it will be furthering the storyline at some point.


I found this an absorbing and interesting read, and look forward to to seeing how the volume one cliffhanger resolves.