One of the benefits of a digital-only publisher like Europe Comics (particularly one republishing works that already have a track record, but in English) is that they can experiment with a wider range of story types and subjects. Aude Picault’s Limited Edition has strong appeal to a market under-served by traditional American comics: the adult woman.
It’s the story of Claire, an over-thirty French woman who wants to find the right guy and settle down to raise a family. Most of the guys she meets, though, aren’t interested in the long term. Her feelings are complicated by her work as a neonatal nurse, where she cares for babies struggling to survive and families under stress.
She starts a relationship with Franck, eventually moving in with him, but as she interacts with his family and others around her, she’s stymied by gender expectations, with overworked mothers and babies already judged by stereotypes and guys who aren’t willing to work to give their partners an orgasm. We know things are a struggle when he tells his friend the classically wrong “she’s crazy” for wanting him to participate in making dinner or cleaning up.
The portrait of her life is well-paced, with enough attention given to everyday details, such as shopping — having to fix for oneself or buying treats that aren’t appreciated are both key moments with different emotional impact — but with things moving along briskly in the big picture. She suffers common mood swings, from dreaming that the new date is the right guy to feeling that “no one’s ever going to want me.”
At times, I felt it was a little predictable, but these things are stereotypical because they apply to so many people. And at those times, I took pleasure in the art. The rounded figures are appealing and approachable. The pages are open, sequential but without panels, driven by conversation and expression. The amount of white space makes the story very comfortable to read, and the wordless sequences are clear and often show universal experience, as when Claire puts effort into preparing for a special occasion. The characters are quickly introduced but understandably distinct.
There’s a scene in particular with her mother that sums up key generational differences, with the divorced mother explaining how marriage worked differently in their generation. She illustrates the value in wanting to get things right, to find the right person and not settle, a welcoming message that sets Limited Edition apart from the traditional women’s story/romantic comedy.
There are preview pages at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)