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Grandville: Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot - official homepage

Review of Grandville: Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot

As I mentioned in my review of the first Grandville graphic novel, one of the most satisfying benefits to running Bryan's fanpage for him is getting sent review copies of his work, in advance of publication, direct from the publishers.

Of course, the commensurate duty is to review the books here on the fanpage, but this is not exactly onerous seeing as how I would have paid for them out of my own money and reviewed them anyway if I wasn't running the site!

Anyway: to business! - Grandville: Mon Amour opens just three weeks after the momentous events at the end of the first Grandville book. Detective Inspector LeBrock is on a prolonged bender - having made "a rather alarming dent in your unfeasibly large collection of single malt whiskies" as his assistant Ratzi puts it, due to his inability to save the beautiful Sarah from the minions of Bonaparte.

Ratzi goes to work on him with a subtle blend of harsh sunlight, viciously strong coffee, well-done bacon - and a keen awareness of LeBrock's nature. Because he's not here for a social call, - he's come with bad news: the psychopathic serial killer Mad Dog Mastock has escaped as he was being led to the guillotine, and Scotland Yard has put "Thicko" Stoatson in charge of recapturing him.

LeBrock caught Mad Dog in the first place and it took six constables to pull him off - in fact it's never stated explicitly but it is implied that Mad Dog's eye was put out when he was arrested by LeBrock.

LeBrock and Ratzi travel to Paris - the "Grandville" of the title to once more track down the serial killer and once again get caught up in a case with ramifications far deeper than it appears at first. The book tells its story with huge verve and panache and at the end I was left thinking that it was substantially shorter than the first Grandville - but Bryan assured me they were the same length. I think my perception was due to the way the story carries you along without a chance to draw breath, and builds inexorably to it's climax.

And as ever with Bryan's work, this is the kind of book that repays multiple reads: the second read through is the one that you promise yourself on the first read through when you are too enthralled with the story to stop and enjoy the breathtaking artwork; the third read through lets you linger over some of the just gorgeous panels that you'd mentally bookmarked, but then the story starts to tug at your eyeballs again, and you find yourself rushing through to the end once again, caught up in the hands of a master storyteller. So you pick it up for the forth and fifth times and that's when you finally get a chance to see the details and sight-gags and references that you'd missed in the previous readings. And then you end up reading it again cover to cover, because to just dip into this book without revelling in the story in it's entirety just feels wrong.

Overall I give this an unhesitating recommendation: this is the kind of comic you want to buy for other people to introduce them to our beloved medium at the top of it's game; tell them to not mess about with those unending soap operas that are the superhero comics with issue numbers in the 500's; this has no backstory and is not trying to suck you in to buy the same title every single month; it is pure and exuberant storytelling in a dark and passionate world that seems at times to be lurking at the edge of perception...

One other thing I need to comment on here is the amazing range of emotions conveyed by the anthropomorphic inhabitants of Grandville; if you'd told me before reading this that I would see a terrified cat, or a gloating dog, or a grief stricken badger, or a drunken, lecherous walrus - I'd have disbelieved you. Another facet of Bryan's talent is making these animals utterly realistic - insofar as that term can be applied in the case of bipedal, sentient animals - and, well - human. Their deep natures can in many cases be deduced from what animal they are, but Bryan's characterisation does not rest on such a superficial crutch. The emotion and range of feelings displayed in Grandville - as well as the usual vivid, detailed scenes Bryan paints - make it more real than many superhero comics I have read.

Go buy this - you will not regret it. It blends elements of alternate history, the anthropomorphic tradition, detective-noir, and modern ultra-violence into an utterly beguiling tale.

In fact, my only worry is... - how long we gonna have to wait for Grandville 3?!


Or you could always return to the Grandville homepage.