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The Barefoot Serpent

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  136 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
The life of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa combined with a story of a friendship between a small girl and boy in Hawaii. The story of a small girl and her one-day friendship with a strange boy while on vacation with her family in Hawaii. Their lives are forever changed as they explore the island and themselves. Bookended by full-color biographical excerpts from the life ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 5th 2003 by Top Shelf Productions (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 205)
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Jan Philipzig
Jun 07, 2016 Jan Philipzig rated it it was ok
Shelves: top-shelf, family
This book contains two stories that at first glance do not appear to have much in common. For starters, their narrative tones and illustration styles differ fundamentally; their pages are even made from different kinds of paper stock. As it turns out, though, they share the theme of losing a loved one. A two-part biography of film director Akira Kurosawa, who struggled to overcome his brother's suicide, forms the frame, while the embedded story features a young girl trying to deal with the loss ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Dov rated it really liked it
Hmmmm. This book defies genre and age categories. It's short, strange, both a biography and something of an allegorical tale. A lot happening in such a slim volume and a bit risky in it's juxtapositions. I was between a 3 and a 4 but I appreciated the contrast in color schemes, and difference in pacing between the biographical parts and the center story. And I enjoyed the filmic qualities of both. I am not sure how I feel about the repetition of "finished (and done) with the world, all right" an ...more
Seth T.
Nov 05, 2015 Seth T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
"I know now what he must have been feeling. He was a brother whom I loved very much and I have never gotten over feeling his loss."—Akira Kurosawa, regarding his elder brother Heigo.
The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse

I have never personally experienced a close and permanent personal loss. My whole apprehension of such experiences derives from film and literature.1 Certainly I have lost relatives to the grave—though none of tremendous personal meaning. I have been devastated by the ends of romantic affairs, but even the close of t
David Schaafsma
Nov 13, 2015 David Schaafsma rated it it was ok
A two story book about grief, one about a small girl, the other about Akira Kurosawa, the filmmaker. I guess you might say it is ambitious, as it creates two very different looking styles, appropriate to the characters in their respective stories. But I couldn't quite get into it. I love Kurosawa, as Morse does, and I get the point of this, and I do know grief. . . but I just couldn't get into it.
Susan Rose
This is a graphic novel with duel narratives. The first is a biography of the filmmaker Akira Kurosawa the second is the story of a family trying to to recover from loss.

I didn't really see why these two stories were put together, and I didn't feel enough time was devoted to either one. Essentially I felt like the biographical section was supposed to be more informative than it was and I felt like the other story was supposed to be more emotionally resonant than it was.

This one just wasn't for
Andy Shuping
May 01, 2011 Andy Shuping rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
Cross posted from ComicsForge

Now you know you have a different type of book on your hands when one of the blurbs on the back cover is by Don Cheadle. That's right, the actor. Plus Scott Mosier, producer of films like Clerks, Chasing Amy, etc. How often do you see that happen for a graphic novel?? And there's a good reason for having Hollywood show up to review a book. This novel is a mix of a biography about the filmmaker Akira Kuroswa and the story of a family moving on after a tragedy. You wou
Matt Hartzell
Oct 19, 2014 Matt Hartzell rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Comic fans, Kurosawa fans
Shelves: ogn-indie
I really enjoyed The Barefoot Serpent. The book deals with very difficult issues but remains hopeful at the end. I loved that aspect of the book. I don't know much about Kurosawa, but his biography book-ending the main story was a nice touch. I also appreciated that Morse took a page to reflect on some of the story and to point out some of his homages to Kurosawa's films. Those references were lost on me, and it's great that Morse was not so pretentious as to not offer some insight to the reader ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Crabbygirl rated it liked it
too bad this book is out of print...
touted as a classic in the realm of the graphic novel, i was curious to see it.
i connected more with the story set on hawaii, but i'm guessing someone who is familliar with the films of akira kurosawa, or even just a film studies student, would get alot out of it.
Oct 10, 2012 Morgan rated it really liked it
A bittersweet story of a family coming to terms with loss, strangely bookended by a very minimal biography of Akira Kurosawa. I understand how Scott Morse sees the connections but really the Kurosawa part, while visually gorgeous, doesn't add much to the story for me. I'm sure that the family story was intended to reveal something about the Kurosawa, and I'm sure that he'd say I'm missing the point, but honestly the side story is far more noteworthy to me and easily stands on its own. That said, ...more
Sep 27, 2008 Hope rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hope by: jumped off a library shelf at me
This is a lovely example of a story told more in images than words. It's both a biography of Akira Kurosawa, and an alegorical story about healing. I just wish I were more familiar with Kurosawa's work - I think I missed a lot, not being familiar with the context. Its very much well worth a read.

The story-telling has a fairy-tale quality to it. It's much more about feelings and ideas. I'm not sure I'd choose it as a children's book - the ideas are mature, although not 'adult' - but it helps to
Apr 11, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I don't really have words for this. I'll try. The pages about Akira Kurosawa are beautiful with thoughtful details. and sorrow. and beauty. and pain. And then there is a separate story about a little Hawaiian girl illustrated in black and white inserted in between those stunning Akira Kurosawa pages. Do these belong together? I don't know. But after reading this, I'll most likely ready everything Scott Morse writes/illustrates.
Emilia P
Jan 12, 2010 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
I've never seen any Kurosawa, so I didn't get the references to that, but on the heels of a trip to Hawaii, this sparsely worded tale of a young girl's adventure away from the tourist beaches into more magical, friendlier back roads of the island was quite sweet. The layout was a little weird - two long panels per page, and I don't really remember the story, but it left me feeling good and was unique. And that is four star worthy.
Sep 27, 2008 Bryan rated it it was ok
A story of loss and haunting bookended by a biographical sketch of Akira Kurosawa. Scott Morse's graphic novels have admirable ambition and scope but leave me uninvolved. There is a dreamy distance from his characters that prevents me from connecting directly. He has style and some nice character design. But his layouts are confusing at times and his storytelling is not compelling.
Ginger Haller
This was the weirdest thing i have ever read. it is a graphical novel about this family that is on vacation in Hawaii and the daughter meets a boy that lives there. it was probably the worst book i have ver read. it also had a mini biography of a movie producer, who i don't think had anything to do with the story. ?????? do not read this.
Oct 05, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it
Weird juxtaposition of subjects, but I could see it better after Morse explained it in the afterword. The story in the middle is very sweet- spare text, proclamatory but not heavy-handed, subtle hints at substory that fleshed out the characters and their backgrounds without distracting from the flow of events...
Aug 08, 2008 Dawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I loved this book. Having a deep-seated love for both Hawaii and Kurosawa films, this book was right up my alley. Scott Morse's art has so much charm while still carrying the weight of the melancholy subject matter. I love his confident line work through out the book. It looks effortless and playful.
Dec 11, 2013 R rated it really liked it
Very interesting little graphic novel. I guess it's entirely symbolic, which is good, because you feel as though you're not quite getting it otherwise. Once I read all of the meanings behind everything, it made much more sense and was quite interesting. I loved the characters and Hawaiian culture in it.
May 20, 2008 Cat rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphicnovels
I didn't really get this book. In the end the author explains how he was trying to create a type of biography about Kurosawa using the story of a girl at the beach who has lost her brother. I think if you have to explain it, you didn't do a very good job of teling it the first time around.
May 16, 2013 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: comic-gn-manga
I guess I can't read enough into the internal story to understand how it relates to Kurosawa. I believe I would have found this more interesting if the entire work would have focused on his life rather than breaking for the fictional story.
Though the framed story is an interesting concept, in this circumstance, the two stories did not seem to work together well. I would have preferred to read an entire graphic based solely around the life of Kurosawa.
Mar 13, 2011 Karla rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Scott Morse pays tribute to Japanese film maker Kurosawa in this story of a couple and their child trying to move on after a tragic death in the family.
Oct 12, 2008 Loyd rated it liked it
A very gentle book with wonderful illustrations by Scott Morse. It takes you by surprise that it's actually a book about the life of Akira Kurosawa.

Oct 01, 2007 Trebro rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphicnovels
I didn't know enough about the source material to really enjoy this one. See my review here:
Ryan Haupt
Jan 28, 2010 Ryan Haupt rated it liked it
I haven't seen enough Kurosawa to really appreciate this book. Regardless, the art was pretty and the story was cute.
Melissa Shelley
Oct 17, 2009 Melissa Shelley rated it it was ok
I wish I knew more about the source material.. maybe it would have made more sense?? Maybe.
Dec 01, 2008 Tammy rated it it was amazing
A beautifully illustrated story that speaks on several levels. Not just for graphic novel fans!
Mar 10, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
i have to admit i didn't understand this book it makes me want to see kurosawa's movies
Chris rated it really liked it
Aug 29, 2016
Dean rated it it was ok
Aug 23, 2016
Lula added it
Aug 20, 2016
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Scott Morse (sometimes known as C. Scott Morse or C. S. Morse) is an American animator, filmmaker, and comic book artist/writer.

Much of Morse's published work consists of stand-alone graphic novels, although he is perhaps best known for his epic series Soulwind, a story serialised in a sequence of graphic novels, which was nominated for both the Eisner and Ignatz awards.
More about Scott Morse...

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