The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City

( 2 )


If you’re visiting the flying city of Amperstam without the latest printing of The Lurker’s Guide, you might as well be lost. This one-sheet is written, edited, and printed by Ashe, a girl raised on the streets of the flying city, and is dedicated to revealing its hidden treasures and deepest secrets—including many that the overcontrolling government doesn’t want anyone to know. The stakes are raised when Ashe accidentally uncovers the horror of exactly how Amperstam travels among the skies and garners the ...

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The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City

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If you’re visiting the flying city of Amperstam without the latest printing of The Lurker’s Guide, you might as well be lost. This one-sheet is written, edited, and printed by Ashe, a girl raised on the streets of the flying city, and is dedicated to revealing its hidden treasures and deepest secrets—including many that the overcontrolling government doesn’t want anyone to know. The stakes are raised when Ashe accidentally uncovers the horror of exactly how Amperstam travels among the skies and garners the attention of those who would rather that secret be kept in the hands of the city’s powerful leaders.

Soon Ashe is on the run from thugs and assassins, faced with the choice of imperiling her life just to keep publishing, or giving in to the suggestion of a rich patron that she trade in her voice and identity for a quiet, comfortable life. It’s a war of confusion for Ashe, but one thing is very clear: just because you live in a flying city, you can’t always keep your head in the clouds.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the afterword, Axelrod and Walker compare the world they’ve created to that of the legendary Transmetropolitan series. It’s a reasonable comparison as both are driven in part by their surrounding cities and focus on a crusading journalist. In the case of this graphic novel, the city is Amperstam, the only flying city in a world of da Vinci–like airships. The journalist is Ashe, a young reporter from the streets whose insistence on uncovering uncomfortable truths is the bane of the city’s leader, the Provost, especially when she discovers a terrible secret about Amperstam that could bring the entire city literally crashing to the ground. Axelrod and Walker take a “drop everybody in the pool and see who swims” approach to introducing the book, hurling a slew of names, places, and acts of political intrigue at the reader. If you can get past this opening section, the book becomes a fun adventure, but things work out all too easily for the main character, making it difficult to feel any real sense of danger or stakes as Ashe digs deeper into the Provost’s secrets. As the first in a series about Amperstam, it’s an adequate setup, however. (May)
VOYA - Rebecca O'Neil
Ashe has grown up as a clouddog—a street kid on the flying city of Amperstam. She writes and publishes an underground, hand-printed broadsheet, The Lurker's Guide, an unflinchingly honest look at city life that is not appreciated by the government. With the help of her pilot friend, Tolban, she spies, flirts, and fistfights in pursuit of a good scoop. When she unwittingly stumbles across the biggest story of her life—the gruesome secret of what makes the city fly—she must weigh the dangers of revealing her discovery or allowing the citizens to continue to live in ignorance. This steampunk adventure graphic novel from Axelrod ( and Walker (artwork in The Sons of Liberty graphic novels) is preceded by podcasts featuring the same world and characters. Unfamiliarity with the podcasts may explain some of the confusing transitions, scene changes, and unexplained details in the graphic novel, but on the whole, it stands alone fairly well. The fantastical setting could be better appreciated in full color (the Amulet and Bone series have spoiled readers in this department), but Walker's art features a crisp black line and a good eye for detail, especially in the wonderfully anachronistic costumes of the characters. Teens who enjoyed the Hales's Rapunzel's Revenge (Bloomsbury, 2008/Voya October 2008) and Daisy Kutter: The Last Train (Viper, 2005/Voya December 2005) will appreciate the wry, humorous script, imaginative setting, and impetuous heroine, especially if they love steampunk but are not quite ready for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. Reviewer: Rebecca O'Neil
From the Publisher
“Axelrod and Walker use rich visual details of luxury and the street life to underscore just how divided the city really is. With a spunky, headstrong female lead and an abundance of steampunk touches—airships, ray guns, and printing presses—this original graphic novel hits all the right buttons...or should we say levers?”


The Battle of Blood and Ink is a great read. Engaging heroine, sinister adversary, mysterious sky captain, intriguing world, fascinating setting—all taking flight in the first dozen pages. I very much want to see what happens next and where the story leads, not just for this volume but many more to come. Bravo, Axelrod and Walker!”

—Chris Claremont, award-winning writer of Uncanny X-Men

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765331304
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

JARED AXELROD is an author, illustrator, graphic designer, sculptor, costume designer, podcaster, and quite a few other things. He is a founding member of the daily flash-fiction website 365 TOMORROWS, and the writer and producer of the science fiction podcasts “The Voice ff Free Planet X” and the serial “Aliens You Will Meet,” as well as “Fables of the Flying City,” a podcast set in the world of The Battle of Blood and Ink. He lives in Philadelphia.

STEVE WALKER illustrated the graphic novel Sons of Liberty by Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos. He has done work for Image Comics and has been featured in Dr. Sketchy’s Official Rainy Day Coloring Book. He attends several comic conventions a year, where he sells commissioned drawings of superheroes. Walker lives in Philadelphia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Ashe and her daring in a city of secrets, and she seeks them out.

    Ashe is riding, while Tolban flies, around the city with other airships around them. Captain Skold is coming in, requesting permission to dock and asylum on the city after the hit his ship has taken by Vrussians getting to Apmerstam. The Provost is ignoring the request! Even with offer of money and supplies from Captain Skold, The Provost still resists. Captain Skold has something The Provost wants more than service and Ashe learns what it is. Ashe smells a story, and something more and dives into the depths of the flying city to find what it is.

    The Provost left me skeptical about her in the last of the podcasts, and here we pick up where I don't trust her again. Ashe knows the Provost has done worse than what she's doing now, making slaves, and she is set on proving it and publishing it.

    We do get to see the press page that Ashe publishes. The ACTUAL press page as it's published. This is neat to see her put things in her own words, and gives us the overall feel of what we see in the comic images and statements said by the characters.

    We see the famous flying city in black and white. At last! It's awesome to see it after listening to the podcasts. Now I get to see all the different areas of the city I learned of in the podcasts as we follow everyone around to these areas. And yes, each section of town is noted so you know where you are. We see many of the characters: Tolban and his flying, Cardor from the hotel in his dress, and many others finally have a face.

    The tattoo's on Ashes arms have all ways been a curiosity for me, here we see early in the book a design, created by someone we know, that is close to that on Ashe's arms. It brings the wonder back to the front of my mind with these similar designs and those on Ashe. What are they doing? How did Ashe get them too? Now I am curious with all that we have learned about the dreadful engine and these symbols, and the hints from Hanner Gatling that Ashe's answers are here as well. All is answered here.

    The engine room!!! If you've been following my thoughts on the podcast, you know I've become increasingly curious about this room. What powers the engine? What happens to people down here? Well, it's here! It's all put together right here. I love seeing the secrets of the city, and how they might tie to Ashe.

    Oh Ashe! We learn more about her past. We also learn the truth of Ashe's tattoos. Ashe has a nose for trouble, and finds it. Trouble and a great story. She finds herself in many scraps, and I love her for it. One tough lady.

    We learn a little saying of kids on the flying city. "Through thick and thin, Through blood and ink, Clouddogs rule, And coppers stink!" The saying even has been adjusted to who they want to say stinks as well. Such world and culture growth here threw pictures and words.

    I have to say this story still surprised me with happenings to our friends. Then in the end! Yes, it was a shocker to me to see what happened. I really liked that. Didn't know a graphic novel could hold so much suspense and story to tell. I really liked what I learned here, and the story told.

    I do hope we get more adventures of Ashe in the future, and of what becomes of the flying city now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    A well enjoyed graphic novel

    As a fan of all things steampunk, I was thrilled to get my hands on this graphic novel. I read it in one sitting, and can't wait to read what I'm sure will be more wonderful works by this author. The characters are well developed and the storyline flows smoothly.

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