- Posted by Johanna on January 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Andi Watson; art by Simon Gane
- PUBLISHER: SLG Publishing; $10.95 US
There’s much to appreciate about Paris. It’s the story of two young women finding themselves and falling in love while creating art in the French city of the title. Andi Watson writes; Simon Gane draws. That latter is why it took me so long to get to the book, and why I don’t love it.
Gane’s art is detailed but flat. Although it uses grey tones to distinguish items, people, and background, to my eye, it all runs together, especially in the larger panels setting the stage. I wanted to be swept away by the romance of Paris, but the opening scenes felt like cliches that could happen in any city. I found myself skimming the book, reading only the text, when I didn’t stop and force myself to look at the pictures and puzzle out what they showed. There’s a lot in the detail, but it requires commitment to discover.
Juliet is studying art in Paris. To pay for school, she paints portraits on commission. Her latest subject is Deborah, an English heiress chaperoned abroad by a boring, ritual-bound aunt. The two share an appreciation for art, but Deborah’s being prepped to marry well as her only function in life.
The foreign city serves as a place where normal rules don’t apply, an escape from others’ expectations. Juliet’s trying to follow a dream, while Deborah’s just enjoying some time away from a regulated life.
As Greg McElhatton points out, it’s important to note that the story is set in the 1950s, which helps explain why some of the reactions seem so quaint. That’s only noted on the back cover, though, not in the text. Once you know that, you can see it in the clothes, for example, but many of the wannabe-bohemian outfits are also reflective of student choices throughout the decades.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot here to like, but it’s not as welcoming as I would have hoped. Perhaps that’s a subtle commentary on Paris’ notorious love/hate relationship with foreigners. The story is also slight; I was left wondering just how the two were going to handle the various obstacles mentioned or alluded to in the story, since none of them are resolved on the page. (Did Deborah marry? What happened to her relationship with her brother? How did Juliet’s family react? What do the two live on?)
The book also includes a section translating the French dialogue and noting titles and creators of the artworks shown, as well as some additional images of the characters. Some preview pages can be seen in this interview with Andi Watson. Simon Gane was interviewed by Tom Spurgeon. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)