Maui: Legends of the Outcast
by Chris Slane & Robert Sullivan : Reviews & Articles
LIANZA judges

Young Persons Fiction Award finalist:

Maui: Legends of the Outcast tells of the wondrous deeds of this celebrated trickster-hero in his challenges of the forces of nature. Cartoonist Chris Slane and poet Robert Sullivan have combined their award-winning talents to produce n exhilarating and highly original graphic novel, which deals with birth, death, violence, mythology, creation and destruction. This dark and mysterious book gives the creation stories of maui a new perspective which will be popular with secondary school students.


Russell Clark Award finalist:

Chris Slane has married a depiction of the traditional cycle of Maui myths with a dynamic and contemporary graphic style. His approach has a style unique to New Zealand - there is expression and movement throughout and colour has been Introduced in a manner that adds to the overall design. This Is a courageous production from Godwit that validates an Illustrative format, relevant and intensely appealing to older children, teenagers and the elusive 'generation X'. It has been beautifully designed and produced right down to the end papers which enhance the composition.

Bart Beaty, COMICS JOURNAL

I don't pretend to know what is going on the comics scene of New Zealand, so I'm not exactly sure how these things work. It may just be that a book like Maui: Legends of the Outcast is simply one of those amazing flukes that is occasionally tossed by the capricious gods of sequential art into the hands of unsuspecting comics readers as a test of the faithful. In the case of a book like this one it is tempting to believe in divine providence because it is too difficult to believe that a book this elegant, bold and mature could simply materialize out of nowhere.

Maui: Legends of the Outcast is a European-style hardcover album produced by artist Chris Slane and writer Robert Sullivan which tells a number of bound-together tales of Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, an outcast trickster of Maori mythology. There are a number of different myths told here (including a confrontation with the Goddess of Fire to the capturingof the Sun in a giant net) and it is a credit to Sullivan's skill at telling these tales that the book holds together remarkably well as a single cohesive narrative line encompassing the life and death of Maui in just forty-eight pages.

What is most remarkable about the book, however, is the art by Chris Slane. Chock full of thick and heavy blacks that seem to rage across the page, it is all aggression, energy and power. Yet the sharp kineticism of the rendering is tempered by the subtlety of the colouring which is predominantly defined by muted greens and browns, highlighted by pastel monochrome purples and blues.The combination of frenzied linework and muted colour palate is just delicious. It may turn out not to be a gift from the gods after all is said and done, but it is the work of a supremely confident cartooning duo. And sometimes that's just as satisfying.

June 1997

Outcast in Ink
Dylan Horrocks, Pavement Magazine Feature

The quintessential Maori outcast, Maui, is now the hero of one of New Zealand's first graphic novels. There's something very appealing about Maui. He's rude, he's arrogant and he has no respect for authority. No wonder he's popular with cartoonists.

Back in the '70s. Dick Frizzell drew a comic book version of Maui's exploits for the School Journal. It was kind of like Conan 
the Barbarian goes bush. And Anthony Ellison's recent gag strip in a
weekly women's magazine stars a Dennis the Menace-like
pre-pubescent Maui. But now there's Maui - Legends of the
Outcast, a 48-page, full-colour, hardback graphic novel. And
the old trickster-hero has gone back to his roots.

The creation of cartoonist Chris Slane and poet Robert Sullivan, Maui
recounts the best-known of the Maui legends in wild, brooding pictures and dialogue that moves from ritualised chant to playful irreverence -very much like its hero. And it's a rollicking read, taking Maui from an ill-starred birth to his infamous end between the thighs of Hine nui te PO, with plenty of gods, magic and ancestor-abuse thrown in.
Not that it treats its subject frivolously. The book's been "five years in the
making", much of it spent in research. After many rewrites, including a version set in the present, the pair ended up sticking to the original "staunch legends". It wasn't until the last couple of drafts that we lost 'bro'," chuckles Slane.

How did they find working on a graphic novel? "It's an immense amount of work compared to political cartooning," exclaims Slane. Sullivan looks similarly exhausted by the experience. "I'm a poet and poetry's driven by the ego," he explains wryly. "So it was very difficult coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't my work of art. It was our work of art and my part was secondary. It should be driven graphically, rather than by the text. And I did enjoy the minimalness of the text because it meant I had to pare it right down. Every word had to count." What was the appeal of the Maui tales?

"There are all sorts of serious lessons to be learned from these legends to do with finding your roots," explains Sullivan. "Maui is a trickster-hero but what he does is important for defining the Maori world."
Adds Slane: "Maui's a rebel, an upstart. He breaks rules, breaks tapu to
gain power. Some of his popularity may be to do with the way he overturns status, the powers that be."

Early drafts played up the satirical potential of the story. "Then we got all
serious because we started doing some research!" laughs Sullivan. "After a while, it became clear that I didn't have the authority to take all that symbolism and put it into some other context without more consultation."

Most New Zealanders are used to the Maui legends being presented as
entertaining children's stories. How do the authors feel about converting an oral tradition of storytellling into a new form all over again, this time a visual one? If you have 12 people sitting around a campfire, listening to these stories, then you get 12 different images coming from all these verbal metaphors and descriptions," says Slane. "It's like we're just two of those listeners around the fire, showing the pictures the story's created in our heads." Concludes Sullivan reverently: "We're just Maui's progeny." 

Dylan Horrocks review in Pavement Dec, 1996

This is the first time a 'proper’ book publisher in New Zealand has embraced the 'graphic novel’ thing , and it'll probably be described as the 'First New Zealand Graphic Novel.' It isn't, of course; Stephen Ballantyne and Bob Kerr's Tin Tin -inspired Terry and the Gunrunners came out, when I was still a kid, and there've been plenty of black and white self-published sagas like Tim Bollinger's 79-page 'Absolute Heroes', Lawrence Clark' s 'The Frame' and so on. Of course, riot being the first doesn't make it any less impressive. Sullivan and Slane provide a straightforward retelling of the legends, which allows the power of the stories to come through undiluted. The artwork is bursting with energy and confidence, and Slane' s sense of design and colour give each page real graphic strength.

My only criticism is the length. With only 48 pages to tell so many powerful tales, it's a bit like skating over the surface without ever really engaging the depths of the legends. Slane's storytelling is best when he really goes to town on the visual drama ( like the full-page capture of Te Ika-a-Maui ) or carefully paces a scene; building up steadily to a climax (eg. his battle with the goddess of fire). But these things need space to be done properly, and even in the examples I've mentioned, he never gets the room to linger over a particular moment, to fully explore an event and its aftermath. In the end, it feels more like a breathless synopsis than a novel or more appropriately - an epic poem. Still, I wouldn't blame Slane for despairing at the suggestion it should have been three times as long. As it is, it was five years work and many a sleepless night, I'm sure. So forget I ever said it; just go out and buy this book (you can see more of Maui near the front of this issue of Pavement) .

(Unedited) 23.Jan 1997

Dylan Horrocks - Hicksville

This full-colour graphic novel wasn’t the first to be published in New Zealand, but with its luscious, brooding artwork, ambitious format and utterly indigenous story, Maui represented a coming-of-age for New Zealand comics. One can only hope that other local publishers follow the lead of Godwit (and overseas publishing giants like Random House and Penguin) in recognising the potential and significance of graphic novels.

Maui’s Tale In Graphic Detail.
The Dominion
WK Hastings is a Wellington writer and critic. Dec 1996

What do you give a teenaged skateboard dude who is into global youth culture for Christmas? A book? You’ve got to be kidding. A book about indigenous Aotearoa history? Get real.

What about a “graphic novel” that’s got kneecappings, slaves called “maggots, self-mutilation, hints of incest, and a man who climbs into a giant vagina? Perfect.

Chris Slane (cartoonist) and Robert Sullivan (poet) tell the story of Maui in a graphic novel. Graphic novels are not read like books. They have to be taken, and reviewed on their own terms. They require a more roving eye and a holistic approach to gathering information from text and pictures. They impress the reader as art as much as straight textual narrative....

Graphic novels, however, speak most loudly to teenagers and twenty-somethings, and this graphic novel is the perfect way to inculcate Maori legend into global youth.

Sullivan certainly keeps the momentum up in the text. The characters often speak very modern English. On an expedition to slow down the sun, one of Maui’s brothers is worried that they will be “fried like chips”. The narrative is carried by the characters, with very little voice-over from on high.

Slane’s drawing is confidently angular, and gives an edgy, sharp feel to thousand-year-old tales. It is surprisingly dark drawing- many panels are as much as 30 per cent black ink- but this suits the subtly shaded flat colouring. This is much better than attempting to mimic a stereotypical Maori artist style.

Bill Paynter’s lettering is crisp and unlike many graphic novels, there is a wonderful absence of exclamation points! ( Handwriting by Slane, font by Paynter - CS) Mix sharp art, add pacy, witty writing, mix in good technical layout and colour and you get something more than is ingredients. best of all, maui exposes what I never knew to be an earthy, lusty, violent rip-roaringly good story to much wider, younger non-Maori audience.

The story is not just good because it is maori and it is not special because it is graphic. Both the story and the way it is told can hold their own anywhere with examples of a great tale well delivered in this medium. This is a deceptively sophisticated little number.

Tradition, with flair.

Pat Whyte Wairarapa Times-Age, 22/4/97

SUBTITLED "A graphic novel", this is indeed graphic in both senses of the term.

Using a layout similar to that of a comic strip, Slane and Sullivan have presented the reader with a very successful version of the Maui mythology.

Maui has been allowed to take the traditional mythological role in all its hard-edged strength.

Maui is the trickster of Maori lore, taking a role similar to that of coyote in Native American myths, or raven among tribes in British Colombia north of Vancouver. He also confronts Hine-Nui-Te-Po in an effort to bring eternal life for his people. His failure brought into the world, the cycle of birth and death, completing the exploits of Maui the outcast.

The average reader of New Zealand mythology may have thought themselves familiar with the story of Maui, but it may pay to think again.

The version of Maui under review is violent, powerful and filled with the strength of belief and conviction, carrying truth without needing confirmation or reassurance.

The text, written to show rather than tell, uses conversational modes with skill.

Illustrations that are dark, almost two-toned, are almost primeval in their effectiveness. Between the two modes, words and pictures, prehistory is evoked in a way that I've not seen before.

Maui: Legends of the Outcast is an authentic work of traditional lore, retold with flair.

Published by Godwit. Hardcovered, unpaged.

Gripping Yarns
NZ Listener feature By Philip Matthews

Maui battles big themes - and some very bad weather - to resurface in the short attention era.

Forty-eight pages of birth, death, violence, mythology, creation, destruction and some very, very unpleasant weather: artist Chris Slane and poet Robert Sullivan have dragged a legend kicking and screaming into the short-attention-span century. Maui: Legends of the Outcast, published this month by Godwit, is a graphic novel of the creation stories of Maui.

Of course, some might say that calling a comic a graphic novel is like raising the tone of rock music by handing it to a symphony orchestra (Jaz Coleman alert). "Well, it depends on how seriously you treat it," says Slane, who is an acknowledged fan of the father of all graphic novels, Art Speigelman's Holocaust saga Maus. "It has been a misused term.''

But, if the themes are big enough and the weather's bad enough, call it Shakespeare. "I think we have a right to call it a novel," Sullivan says. "Because it gives it that status. It comes from a greater story -the creation story and how we view the world. His saga is part of the greater saga. It's not just a fairy story for Maori people. It is actually quite serious. There are lessons to be drawn from Maui's actions."

And the actions in Legends of the Outcast are the familiar stories crammed into a tidy chronological timeline. From Maui's abandonment as a baby - tossed to the depths of the sea, left to the elements - to robbing his grandmother of her jawbone (while she lives), which he uses to haul in the famous land-fish. Changing his shape, stealing fire, regulating the movement of the sun, creating mortality -it is visceral material at the best of times, and pumped up to another level by vivid, sometimes horrifying images (the grandmother is huge and zombie-like, the beach in the opening pages is a windswept hell), with Slane's style owing more to European art comics than superhero pulp.

Quite nasty stuff, all in all. "Yeah, gripping yarns," says Slane with a laugh. He came to the project five years ago, reasonably cold. Sullivan, who came on board a little later, is Maori and more familiar with Maui - "I felt quite close to the character, because he's part of my childhood." Over the five years they scraped together the time to keep the graphic novel alive. Slane had commercial illustration work to do, Sullivan moved to Wellington to study librarianship and both had more children. They kept in touch through fax and, over the past year, with Sullivan back in Auckland, they burnt the midnight oil to meet the deadline. While Si111ivan melted the story down to its base elements, which is where a background in poetry helps - "I like the intensity of the language in this format. We have to use as few words as possible" - Slane came up with storyboards and thumb-nail sketches, until his final version of the artwork was handed to digital artist Bill Paynter, who scanned it all in and gave it back to them on a CD. "Not only do we get a book," jokes Slane, "but we get a record as well."

Paynter turned Slane's handwriting into a typeface called "Slane Wobbly" and added the type on screen. "Most American comics are done that way now," Slane says. "They look handwritten, but they're not actually handwritten."

The publishers optimistically predict, given the huge popularity of the Hercules and Xena TV series, that Illustrations from the strips: Maui "destroys the old way of doing things, but invents a new one". Maui's time may have finally come. 'Hercules is a different kind of hero," Slane says. "He's the tough guy using his strength."

"Maui's more like Odysseus," Sullivan says, "using his intelligence and his cunning, whereas Hercules is a bit of an ox."

But the story certainly has the mythic element that has worked in everything from Moses to The Lion King: the abandoned hero returns with a magical link to the great beyond. "The further out he's thrown." Slane says, "the more strength it gives him when he comes back.

'He's a real anarchist in a way. I think that was part of the appeal. There are moral messages that I didn't realise when I came to it. I came with a satirical view and I realised that there was humour, a mischievous humour, but a moral element as well. He destroys the old way of things, but invents a new one."

"He helped define the world for Maori people," Sullivan says. "He's part of that cycle of myths where you have the creation of the world. the separation of land and water, and he helps define things like how long the day is by slowing down the sun.

"Most Maori can, in some way, relate themselves back to the gods, the ones who are in touch with their roots. So, when we talk about their families, we've got to get it right."

Still, liberties can be taken. "The stories are in the public domain. We've drawn on lots of versions. It really is public property. But, even today, there's always going to be an oral version out there we could never try to take."

The huge project is wrapped up, but all this thinking about mythology has set Sullivan off - to his next volume, which may be called Star Waka. "Now that the Maul timeline is off the fridge, I can think about being a poet again."

23/11/1996



From Maui to Darth Maul
By Tim Bollinger, Pavement magazine
Chris Slane’s comic adventures in Aotearoa have transported him to a galaxy far, far away...

Eight years ago the Godwit Press published Maui: Legends of the Outcast, a graphic novel by Chris Slane and Robert Sullivan. Slane was a political cartoonist who’d been designing puppets for TV. Sullivan was a poet of Ngapuhi/ Irish ancestry. Together their work proved a hit, winning accolades from as far away as the United States. The Comics Journal described the Maui book as a ‘gift from the gods’, finding it "difficult to believe that a book this elegant, bold and mature could simply materialize out of nowhere." Of course, it didn’t. Maui’s sophistication and elegance had much to do with Slane’s fluid artwork and keen sense of narrative imagery, developed over many years in the trade.

Slane had been introduced to cartooning at primary school when it was Carl Barks’ Disney artwork and the War Picture Library series that first got him hooked. "Going to a school friend’s house there was a cellar literally full of classic British war comics," Slane recalls. " My friend eventually got bored but I spent hours in there looking at the great detailed art."

Later, he showed up at Auckland University’s Craccum offices, filling the gaps in the copy with drawings on deadline night for then-editor Louise Chunn. After finishing a degree in Town Planning, Slane wrote and drew a cartoon book for Auckland Regional Council landscape architects which apparently sealed his fate once and for all. He dropped town planning and took up a career as a cartoonist. Slane has since won several Qantas awards for his cartoons and is currently editorial cartoonist for the NZ Listener. But the Maui book is his most sustained piece of comic artwork to date."At the time of working on Maui, I was reading Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Mckean, Jaques Tardi, George Pratt, and I found Mike Mignola’s graphic style very compelling," Slane says.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the first time that the Maui character had been rendered as a comic hero. In the 1970s Dick Frizzel had been commissioned to do a series of Maui stories in comic form for the School Journals and Slane took the opportunity to look up the local pop art painter to see that he wasn’t repeating something that had already been done before. "Dick invited me to his studio and showed me his original boards for his Maui - fantastic draughtsmanship! He had been greatly impressed by the Marvel school of dynamic figure drawing," Slane recalls. "Frizzel approached Maui as a kind of Maori superman, whereas Robert and I wanted to emphasize Maui’s role as the outsider - a damaged spirit who returns in an human form to plague the society which rejected him. We wanted to get away from the view of the legends as simply fairy stories for children with a Maori flavour. Our reading of the symbolism pushed us in a darker and hopefully more dramatic direction."

New Zealand publishing requirements for the Maui book demanded a glossy hard-cover format suitable for bookshops and local libraries rather than the traditional paper-bound format of most American comics. This gave the finished production a classy European feel and flavour. "I greatly admired those European graphic albums," says Slane, whose luscious designs took full advantage of the book’s quality production values.

Eight years on, Maui is still selling overseas. Last year Slane did a deal with Steve Malley of Antipodes Publishing to distribute it in the United States. This was followed by an invitation to illustrate a story for Dark Horse’s Star Wars Tales series. "Lucas Films approved me after seeing the Maui book," Slane says. American writer, Christian Read scripted the story ('Nameless' in Star Wars Tales #10, 2001) which built upon the Darth Maul character originally devised for the Phantom Menace film. Slane set about to use what he’d learned on the Maui project to help bring the Star Wars universe to life.

More than any other cartoon work he’d done before, the Star Wars comic won the approval and respect of Slane's children. The job also posed some new and interesting challenges for the artist. "At first, the emphasis for me was just getting an existing character right from all angles, angles you never see in the film, while giving him my own twist," Slane says. "Next, I wanted to emphasise the uneasy predator-threat feeling you get looking at the movie Darth Maul - the camouflaged tiger stalking you in the jungle. In his case it must have been a red-coloured jungle planet, I imagine. In the background I added elements of an alien-kiwi bush as scenery."

Colours were rendered in the States by Guillia Brusco and Matt Hollingsworth, from one of the studios that colours Mike Mingola’s Hellboy, a key influence upon the look and feel of Slane's original Maui comic. You can see some of these pages on www.slane.co.nz or visit the New Zealand cartoonists website on www.nzcartoons.co.nz where Slane and other local editorial cartoonists showcase their portfolios, sell originals and help raise the general profile of the art form. May the force be with them.

GONE FISHING

Ancient legend meets high technology in Chris Slane’s graphic novel Maui, with text by Robert Sullivan. Vicki Earle discovers why the project took three years.

Quote Unquote DEC 96 1 JAN 97

Comics are just for kids. Right? Wrong. Talk to cartoonist Chris Slane and poet Robert Sullivan and you'll probably come away with quite different view. And their recently released Maui: Legends Of The Outcast is certainly likely to challenge many of the stereotypes surrounding the genre and, indeed, attitudes concerning Maui legend.

Maui is a graphic novel that tells of the wondrous deeds of the legendary Polynesian demi-god Maui. The book contains eight of the 13 Maui stories - Sullivan recently discovered another three - and tells them in a way that many will be relatively unfamiliar with: "A lot is usually taken out for children," says Sullivan. "This is Maui with the extra, original bits in.''

The collaboration of Sullivan and Slane was inspired by Godwit Publishing, who knew, and liked, the work of both men. Used to working in isolation, the two came to enjoy working as a team, and found that as their three-year project neared completion their "vision" merged. For Sullivan, the collaboration also involved learning a new medium - compared with writing, Slane suggests, cartooning is more akin to doing a dramatisation or screenplay.

Sullivan's first task in the project was to develop a storyline that encompassed all the key events of the Maui story. He tried to use the kind of words that teenagers would today, without incorporating too much jargon. "We didn't want it to date," he says. "Hopefully, what we have ended up with is timeless modern language."

Slane's job was to translate the text into thumbnail sketches in a rough comic-book layout, and then into a full-size storyboard with dialogue "bubbles". Then, when he and Sullivan were equally satisfied with the flow and pace of the stories, he proceeded to render the base line artwork with pen, brush and ink.

At this point, computer technology took over, in the form of the design expertise of Bill and Jonathan Paynter. The two share premises, but not usually projects, with Slane. In this instance, however, Bill instantly recognised the advantages of computer technology and offered his services. The father-and-son team used their expertise in colorising cartoons, after which Bill Paynter designed a font, dubbed "Slane Wobbly", to give the dialogue a uniform appearance, and to save time.

'Chris was labouring away," says Paynter. "Doing the lettering for each page alone was taking about a day and a half. And I knew that there would be plenty of editing." The fact that both Paynters are also cartoonists was a distinct advantage. "We were totally sympathetic regarding what Chris wanted. He had a vision and it was up to us to interpret it, and to stay within the boundaries of what he wanted."

The general feeling is that if they had been technicians things may have been less straightforward. The advantages of computer technology really became evident, however, once the book was completed, at which point it was loaded onto a CD-Rom and despatched to Hong Kong for printing. "Usually you'd be sending off a great pile of material and photographs," says Slane. So he put the disc in a large packet, just to make sure that it still looked important.

The completed book is not what you would expect, particularly if you're used to the Tintin/Asterix style of cartooning. Primary colours are absent, the overall tone being dark. Slane explains this by saying that something that struck him with the story was the amount of emotional trauma contained within it: "The subject matter called for something a little more serious, a bit more dramatic."

Maui represents the synthesis of legend, artistic partnership and technology. For those of you who weren't allowed to read "comics" as a child, maybe now is the time to make a change.

  • Greg McElhatton http://www.gregmce.com, 1/14/2000

    When I was in second grade, I had a friend whose family had just moved to the United States from New Zealand. Our teacher used it as an excuse to read us a book about New Zealand's myths and legends, and I remember being fascinated. It's now quite a few years later, but reading Maui: Legends of the Outcast brings back that same thrill.

    Maui tells the story of Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, who could best be described as the New Zealand trickster-god. Maui was originally left for dead by his mother, but manages to survive against all odds. As an adult, he shows that his cunning was not limited to childhood; he outwits family, beasts, and gods alike. Unlike some trickster myths, Maui's antics are aimed to help his
    people, giving them fire, new lands, and sunlight. Maui's author Robert Sullivan is a poet, and his craftsmanship shows here. The early sections of this hardcover graphic novel are narrated in sparse (but effective) verse, giving the events an extremely strong punch. You get the feeling that this is an important story, and in terms of the land's mythologies, it is. Even after moving to a more traditional narrative structure, Sullivan manages to give Maui's tales a tone of power and import.

    Chris Slane's art is perfect for Maui. It sounds strange, but his art feels somehow primal, as if we're getting a glimpse into the past of New Zealand. His heavy brush strokes and use of dark colors give the characters an appearance which makes them look less human and more iconic; it's a great decision, fitting the story perfectly.

    Westhampton House represents a lot of high quality books in the United States, and Maui is no exception. Those interested in South Pacific myths, or just a really good graphic novel from the other side of the world should definitely buy this book. Maui: Legends of the Outcast is available from Mars Import.

Denise L. Voskuil-Marr, rec.arts.comics.alternative, 1998

This comic has something for everyone. It's in the tres-hip hardcover album format, so it looks like you're reading a Eurocomic or art book. It's got fighting, disasters (fire, flood, famine), giant monsters, nudity, trickery, and a superhero (who's not in spandex). Seriously, though, this is a good book. It's a collection of myths about the demigod Maui (who is evidently well-known through much of the Oceania region, and is the one who is the namesake of the Hawaiian island), weaving them together into a story of his life. Maui is the Trickster figure in myths in this region, and he is shown bedeviling divine personages and fighting great battles during his life. In the process, many natural processes (like the frequency of the rising and setting of the sun) and even their landscape are explained.

The writer, Robert Sullivan, joins together many legends about Maui, and writes fairly decent dialogue, if a bit mixed at times (a blend of slang-y, informal speech with more formal speech one often sees in myths). He presents Maui as a devilish type who still shows his divinity. The art is angular, almost blocky, and uses large amounts of black as well as subtle color. Unlike some who use a lot of black, however (Xander Cannon comes to mind), it isn't hard to tell what is going on; the artist, Chris Slane, achieves a good balance and clarity. The angular style reminds me somewhat of the style of one of the Sandman artists, whose name is slipping my mind at the moment (Hempel, perhaps?), but is excellent at creating a feeling of passion and unreality. At first, I had trouble telling Maui apart from his brothers, but this was probably because I was reading fast in my eagerness (start by using the hairstyles, and you can move to the different body shapes from there). The artist has a good sense of pacing and "camera angles," and does a great job of telling this tale.

This was created in New Zealand, so it'll be hard to find. You can try the publishing company (Godwit Publishing Ltd., 15 Rawene Road, P.O. Box 34-683, Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand), or try ordering it from a bookstore using the ISBN.

Correspondence school extract, 1997:

"Dialogue...sounds more lively and realistic, more like the sort of language people would really use when speaking."