Paris

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.)


7 Responses to “Paris”

  1. Rob McMonigal Says:

    You did a better job of reviewing this than I did–since I didn’t like it much at all, I was a lot harsher in my comments.

    I think my strong disappointment came from reading and loving about 4 or 5 other Watson books when I got to this one.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I see that! I think our biggest point of disagreement is that you think Juliet giving up, going home, and painting hardware store signs would be an ok ending. That’s only if you assume that she doesn’t really want to be an artist, that it’s some kind of lark or time-killer for who until she finally “settles down”. On the other hand, if you assume that she really is meant to be a painter, then settling for store signs would be soul-killing.

    I agree that this is certainly a weak example of Watson, as are most of his script-only books. And thank you for the compliment!

  3. Rob McMonigal Says:

    I agree it would have been soul killing, I just felt it would have been a better ending–at least that way, we’re not stuck in a Hollywood B movie nearly so much as the actual ending. And since Juliet isn’t given much of a personality beyond “gay artist” I did’t have a lot of sympathy to lend her. :(

  4. Hsifeng Says:

    Johanna Says:

    “…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?)”

    This review reminds me of another novel about an artist moving to France to seek her fortune, Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood – except that one’s set in 1986, the artist’s art is writing, and the ending does get resolved very well on the page. :)

    Johanna Says:

    “I see that! I think our biggest point of disagreement is that you think Juliet giving up, going home, and painting hardware store signs would be an ok ending. That’s only if you assume that she doesn’t really want to be an artist, that it’s some kind of lark or time-killer for who until she finally ‘settles down’.”

    I see that too. Hmm…what if Juliet wouldn’t really want to be a sign painter, and sign painting is a day job until she finally “settles down” as an established artist?

  5. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Jan. 5, 2009: Endless parade of worry Says:

    [...] [Review] Paris Link: Johanna Draper Carlson [...]

  6. January 2011 Previews: Indie Month, DC and IDW Recommendations, and Snark ยป Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Paris (Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing) [...]

  7. January 2013 Previews » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] first of two reoffers of Andi Watson works available this month, Paris is a romance set in the city of lights among two art [...]

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