- Posted by Johanna on January 28, 2006 at 8:26 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Drawn and Quarterly; $29.95 US
This anthology series consists of softcover coffee table books that contain a wide sampling of beautiful work.
The latest starts off with a Monsieur Jean story by the team of Dupuy & Berberian. Jean is an author with a motley collection of friends. He’s been living in New York City, taking care of his daughter while her mother works, but he’s visiting Paris to catch up with an old friend and his son. The friend is working on an one-man show as a memorial to an old comedian, while Jean has flashbacks to the birth of his daughter and is mistaken for a gay parent.
The cartoony figures are wonderfully expressive, but it’s the rich color, shown to advantage on heavy paper, that most draws the reader. The story is like the best possible family sitcom, with everyday activities honestly portrayed. (Think of an older, more settled Seinfeld.) The humor seems to be more found than constructed, attesting to the skill of the authors. Themes of family intertwine with meditations on progress and popular culture.
In the rest of the book, R. Sikoryak, an incredibly talented mimic, presents “The Crypt of Bronte”, a retelling of Wuthering Heights in the style of a classic EC horror comic. Michel Rabagliati (Paul Has a Summer Job) also contributes a story, a flashback in which a teenage Paul, looking to kill time with a friend, rides subways, hangs around a department store pulling pranks, and roams the deserted site of the 1967 Expo.
There’s also a short piece translated from the Japanese about a geisha supporting a writer and an Israeli cartoonist’s thoughtful take on how atrocities can so quickly become part of everyday life. The rest of the book, almost half, is an appreciation of Albert Chartier, a long-running magazine contributor of cartoons about Quebec rural life. His work is polished and humorous, and it’s a great chance to experience something one would otherwise have never seen.