cover image The Little Red Fish

The Little Red Fish

James Moffitt and Bizhan Kodabandeh. Rosarium, $19.95 (168p) ISBN 979-8-9866146-2-5

In the mode of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, this vibrant graphic novel wears its allegorical form on its sleeve. The politics and perils for marine life on a Persian Gulf reef stand in for the tumult leading to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. The reef’s fish, under the direction of their leader Khari, live in fear of watchful herons, who kill those who stray too close to the surface—until a protector arrives: Manuchehr, a fish who can transform into a hawk (he uses the power of an orb that represents the will of the reef’s residents). Manuchehr helps the fish form a plan to drive away the herons, while treacherous eels foment suspicion against him. As the deadly rebellion against the herons and their king rages, so does a power struggle between supporters of Khari and those of Manuchehr’s protégé, the Little Red Fish. When the Heron King’s crown is captured in a daring raid, the fish debate whether they should employ the crown to defeat the herons or turn away from the corrupting influence of authoritarianism (“Tyranny begets tyranny”). The bold, color-saturated art carries this fantasy-infused political fable. It’s a dynamic, incisive, and moving addition to the allegorical tradition. (Aug.)