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The Tale Of One Bad Rat

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,828 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Running away from the nightmare of sexual abuse, Helen Potter finds herself treading in the footsteps of the children's storyteller, Beatrix Potter. Across the decades, two lives touch, and Helen discovers that the strength of two is far greater than that of one. ...more
Published January 1st 1996 by Titan Books (UK) (first published September 30th 1991)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,828 ratings  ·  226 reviews

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Tippy Jackson
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, drama, comic



The art was spectacular. The story too much on the nose, for the most part. I suppose where it strays from reality for me was when daughter confronts her dad and he has a sort of "what have I done" moment and then she moves on with her life and begins her process of healing. This was a little too simplistic for me and didn't match what I've experienced or encountered with others, which is closer to confrontation leads to denial, more abuse, chastisement, criticism, hatred etc. an
Seth T.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
The Tale of One Bad Rat is one of those classics of the medium, one of those books that was an indelible footnote in the quest to prove that comics could be about more than just superheroes and melodrama. Whether Bryan Talbot's intent or not, One Bad Rat became one of the arguments for comics being a medium of communication worth the same level of serious consideration as literature. Or if not literature, then at least the same sober reflection that cinema could garner. In a way, that's kind of ...more
Bon Tom
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Comics don't get much better than this, or more important, for that matter. It's one of those books everyone should read for various reasons. The inclusion of pet rat was just fantastic. And, paradoxically, somehow real as broken bone even after he continued to follow the main protagonist as imaginary friend. Perhaps, even more after that. As other reviewers said, this is either very well researched, or told from personally experienced perspective. ...more
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, let’s see. The basic premise, according to Talbot, was “a homeless girl with a synchronistic link with Beatrix Potter follows Potter’s escape into her new life in the Lakes.” He goes on to admit that having Helen flee sexual abuse at the hands of her father was a plot device to get her homeless, but that it is a common cause of teenage homelessness.

Fine then. So it’s common. That explains the cliché way he dealt with it? I don’t think so.

And I’ll tell you what I really think:

Dov Zeller
I'm between a 3 and a 4 in the gr stars. This book does many things beautifully and well, and also sometimes it feels like a dated manual of some kind, detailing the negative affects of abuse. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just the book gets a little klunky in moments and then resolves kind of quickly.

That said, Talbot does some delicate and beautiful storytelling in here. Helen, the protagonist, has run away from home, fleeing the abuse and neglect of her parents. She manages to keep he
Sooraya Evans
Bottled up emotions... it's best to let it out. I didn't quite like how Helen confronted her abuser though. A talk. That's all? I was expecting something violent. Now, that would be more satisfying :)

I also don't see the point of all those boring facts about rats (thrown in here and there) throughout random conversation between characters. Felt unnecessary.

But still, an overall good read.
Rachel Nabors
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was truly a work of art.

I remember my mother wanted to read it back in my childhood, but she never picked up any of the issues. So I was quite excited when I found a battered collection of them at my new library.

Bryan Talbot handles this touching story of childhood lost, molestation, and street living with a realism and humanity that I've not seen from authors before. Most turn their stories into Lifetime movies, almost making caricatures of the people involved. And perhaps that's the stran
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Graphic Novel (Capital G, Capital N) made me cry.

I cried because I felt the suffering of the main character Helen Potter.
I cried because I felt joy at her overcoming her adversities.
I cried because this was a perfect example of how the graphic medium can be; just as mature and well drafted as any Novel out there.
Then I cried when I had finished reading it, just because.
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a graphic novel centred around a survivor of parental emotional/sexual abuse, Helen,who loves Beatrix Potter and empathises with rats. It follows her journey in dealing with, and eventually healing from, this abuse.

The positives first: the art was good and gave a solid sense of Britain in the Nineties, and some of the character moments/elements depicting reaction to abuse and trauma were well done. The fake Beatrix Potter book at the end was perfect. I was glad to see a narrative where t
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young woman, Helen, flees her cruel, cold stepmother and her sexually abusive father, becoming a ward of the streets. Following the trail of Beatrix Potter, her favorite author, Helen survives drunken statesmen, police, squatter houses, and opportunistic "good" Samaritans, at last reaching her promised land in the countryside and finding healing there.

This hits a bit close to home, as several people close to me have histories that mirror portions of this book: sexual assault, a life on the str
Intense, and no doubt groundbreaking for the time. Yay for bringing abuse stories into the foreground. These stories are necessary. Appreciated the rat as metaphor. Obviously triggering for some. The ending is a bit hard to believe, but probably necessary. Cheers for color illustration, and integrating literature and it's impact into story. Pretty tough to read. ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The artwork was beautifull! Also I loved the explanation of the author at the end of the book. it is very nice to read that an authoer makes such deliberate choices producing a book.

Some things went a bit too fast in my opinion (the time she needed to resolve some issues), but overall it is a beautifull book nicely connecting a children stories, Beatrix Potter, with more serious themes, sexual abuse and homelessness.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping, emotional tale, with amazing artwork throughout
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book for the story as well as the making of it that Talbot describes in the end!
Sam Quixote
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A 16 year old girl called Helen Potter leaves home, running from an abusive father and a mother who doesn't care. She finds herself begging on the streets of London and, along with her pet rat and a bag full of Beatrix Potter books, she begins a journey similar to Potter's out of her horrible situation into a place where she is safe and happy both in mind and body.

Bryan Talbot does a fantastic job depicting the horrors of street life in London. The sprawl, the crazies who are out there preying
I got to work this morning and just had to pick up from where I was reading last night. I read some before the students came. I happened to be outside another teacher's room. She looked over my shoulder and commented, "I just think it is so funny that you are reading a comic book at school." I did not have a chance to respond, but if she only knew! Plus, it is a graphic novel. I had to read this book after hearing my classmates talk about it. When I heard it talked about in class, so different t ...more
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, really
This is a remarkable book, and Talbot -- as far as I'm concerned -- never topped it. The story, though it may come across as a little pop-psych by its climax, is engaging and the illustration is the best Talbot ever created, lush yet simple at the same time. It is telling that this superb work is worlds away from his usually more sci-fi outings.
If there's a single drawback to reading this, it's that I still feel it'd be a more interesting read were I more (or at all) familiar with the works of B
Stewart Tame
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely stuff! This book has earned its reputation, and I'm sorry I never got around to reading it until now. A young runaway in London with a pet rat embarks on a journey that will take her in the footsteps of Beatrix Potter. It's a journey of self discovery and involves her coming to terms with the incestuous abuses of her father that drove her from home in the first place. In the wrong hands, this could have been heavy and fraught with Message. Talbot's skills as a writer/artist are much bette ...more

This was not the kind of book you love. It is the kind of book that moves you. When Eisner began writing graphic novels, he had books like this in mind. This is a book first, and comic second. It tells a story that needs to be told.

It's actually for this work that I have created a new shelf, dubbed "important." I'll be slowly moving over other books from classics, and contemporary novels which deserve to be read. A story that needed to be told was here.

I think this will be used in classroom
A moving, originally told, and strikingly drawn comic that weaves together the story of young teenage runaway and sexual abuse survivor with the biography and stories of Beatrix Potter. Highly recommended for all teens and adults.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend this one enough. Here Brain Talbot deals with issues of child abuse in such an incredible and honest way. Fans of Beatrix Potter will enjoy how the story is framed and narrated. ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For its time, it was a progressive graphic novel. Now, though, some portions feel a tad clumsy in their writing. Still, good intentions, and all that.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
my heart ached while reading this, i enjoyed it so much.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
it's one thing to feature a character who's a survivor of sexual abuse. it's another thing to use that character's history as a cheap plot device. ...more
Arpad Okay
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Diary of a Teenage Girl
Shelves: comics, geek
Absolutely gripping story of a runaway. Helen Potter using storybooks, circumstance, and resilience to overcome the psychological fallout of abuse- to try to lead a happy life. A girl and her rat.

This story is three things. Something loved, something fascinating, something meaningful. Talbot wanted to tell a tale of the Lake Country, using the miserable youth and liberated adulthood of Beatrix Potter and its relation to the North as a means to linger on Hill Top, told by a sexually abused homele
Jul 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not often that a book manages to capture the emotional journey and psychological struggles that come with sexual abuse. Bryan Talbot, however, has managed to capture the universal voice of suffering more adequately in this book than any other I have ever read.

Bryan Talbot has often been declared the grandfather of the British graphic novel and played a pivotal role in the British (and international) comic scene. But for an artist/author who is known for works such as Nemesis the Warlock, L
Cath Elsworth
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read graphic novels. I picked this one up on a whim when I was in a comic shop buying Pokemon cards for my son!
It blew me away. The art was phenomenal. The story moved me to actual tears. I've worked with abuse survivors and yes I agree with some of the criticism levelled at this novel- that the healing process is not as simplistic as made out to be in One Bad Rat, but I doubt Helen's recovery will be simplistic and I'm sure her story doesnt end with her living happily ever after, she w
Kelly Rice
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
I thought about abandoning this when I was a quarter way through. The story is a bit flat, a bit two-dimensional and simply lacking. But then the story isn't about this girl's journey really, it's about the rat.

This definitely isn't a comic for everyone. It doesn't hide its preaching and it has all the tell-tale signs of characters based on real people. But this doesn't dissolve into some After School Special (thankfully).

I's not a deep thinker and doesn't try to offer solutions or arguments.
Nick Phillips
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why on earth it has taken me til now to read this I really could not say. Bryan Talbot is one of the greatest storytellers that the UK has produced and his work, which is never less than brilliant, channels the heart of modern England while reflecting where we have come from. The Tale of One Bad Rat sits between narrative and documentary, showing the storytelling techniques which will later be seen to great effect in Alice in Sunderland. It also tells a story which (sadly) is still just as relev ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at random from a graphic novel display at my library and decided to give it a go. References to Beatrix Potter are woven into this tale of a teen who runs away from abuse at home and tries to find her way in the world. I loved the way Potter was woven into the story and really enjoyed the book. I felt like one important scene might have needed a bit more to it, but it wasn't enough to check my admiration for the work as a whole. Worth checking out, too, is the author's note at t ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot 1 6 Dec 05, 2015 07:33PM  

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Talbot began his comics work in the underground comix scene of the late 1960s. In 1969 his first work appeared as illustrations in Mallorn, the British Tolkien Society magazine, followed in 1972 by a weekly strip in his college newspaper.

He continued in the scene after leaving college, producing Brainstorm Comix, the first three of which formed The Chester P. Hackenbush Trilogy (a character rework

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