Archive for the ‘Graphic novel’ Category

I have wanted to read ‘Jeremiah‘ ever since I discovered it, because it was written and illustrated by one of my favourite Belgian artists, Hermann. I finally got around to reading the first omnibus volume.

The volume I read had the first three comics in the series. The story is set in America, in a post-apocalyptical world, which has resulted probably because of a nuclear war. It looks like people are back in the nineteenth century. Jeremiah is a young man who lives in a village, who is noble, innocent and naive. He meets Kurdy, who is streetsmart and who is aware of the ways of the world. The stories follow the adventures of these two as they get entangled into one event after another. Hermann said in an interview that he worked on many Westerns before he created ‘Jeremiah’ and we can see that influence here, because the story is filled with lots of Western elements.

There is good news and bad news. The good news first. The main characters are interesting and well-developed. The dialogue is interesting and humorous. The places where the events of the story happen have been depicted so beautifully. And the most important thing, of course. The artwork. Hermann has a very distinctive style, and that is the reason I love his art. That distinctive style, the vintage Hermann artwork is unfurled in all its glory here. It is beautiful and exquisite. The colours are vivid and spectacular. It is a pleasure to look at every panel. I loved it.

Now the bad news. I found all the stories mostly middling. They started off well and were fascinating till around one-third of the way but after that they meandered away into some kind complexity which was hard to understand, because the story started with so much promise. In the first story, the villain was a cartoonish character which was disappointing. In the third story, I felt that the story didn’t fit into the spirit of the series and at some point the story became too complex for its own good. I liked the second story the best – it was like an old-fashioned Western.

I am hoping that the plot will improve as we venture deeper into the series. I have the second volume of this series too, and I hope to read it sometime soon.

I am sharing some pages of the book so that you can get a feel for its artwork.

Have you read the ‘Jeremiah‘ series? What do you think about it? Do you like Belgian comics?

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I read a little bit of ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine’ by Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud many years back. I remember liking it very much, but it was very long compared to the other comics I used to read – the typical comic that I read at that time was between 32 and 62 pages long, while this one was around 100 pages long – and so I got distracted halfway through and never got around to finishing it. I finally picked it up again today, and finished reading it in one sitting.

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘ is one of the famous stories in the Blueberry series. In this story Blueberry is temporarily stationed in a town in Arizona to help in upholding the law. His friend and assistant, the old man Jimmy, is his deputy. There is a brawl in the bar and two people are trying to kill each other. Blueberry stops the fight, and a rrests one of the people involved. The fight seems to be about a goldmine in the land of Apaches that this man has discovered. No one believes this man, but then one thing leads to another, strange men come to the town looking for this man, and before long, both the good guys and the bad are on their way to this mythical goldmine filled with secret treasure. What happens after that forms the rest of the story.

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘ is an old-fashioned Western. There is a small town, there is the desert, there is the mountain, there is a bar brawl, there are horse-riders-chasing scenes, there are Apaches, there is secret treasure – all the enjoyable elements of a classic Western are present. It is intricately plotted, the action moves at a beautiful pace, there are twists and turns and there is a surprising revelation at the end. The artwork by Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud is very interesting and unique and received a lot of acclaim when this book and the Blueberry series first came out, because of its realistic portrayal of the places and characters.

I enjoyed reading ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘. I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped to – I really loved the first part when I read it the first time years back but it didn’t have the same impact on me now – but I still enjoyed reading it. I am glad I finally read it and I got to finish the book. Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud’s artwork is an acquired taste – my favourite Belgian comic artists are William Vance and Hermann – but hopefully one day I’ll be able to appreciate it better.

I am sharing some of the pages of the book so that you can get a feel for the story and the artwork. If you want to read the book, you can find it here.

Have you read ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘? What do you think about it?

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I have wanted to read ‘Batchalo‘ by Michaël Le Galli and Arnaud Bétend, for a long time, and today I took it down from my bookshelf and read it in one breath.

In February 1939, a caravan of Tzigane gypsies (Hungarian gypsies) come and camp in the outskirts of a small village in Bohemia. They visit that village regularly to sell the beautiful stuff they make. But this time, a couple of children in the village go missing. The villagers suspect the tziganes. When the villages visit the tziganes to ask about it, they discover that the tziganes are closing camp and leaving. This leads to suspicions that the tziganes might have stolen their children. But after some questioning, the tziganes reveal that some of their own children who have been playing with the village children have gone missing too, and so they are going in search of the missing children. The village policeman, Josef, who is also the narrator of the story, joins them, because his own son is one of the missing children. What adventures befall the tziganes and Josef? Are they able to find the missing children? The answers to these are revealed in the rest of the story.

Batchalo‘ is a beautiful, poignant, heartbreaking story. It is an account of the life and the culture and the mythology of the gypsies – a community who don’t belong to any country, who have their own culture and beliefs, and who believe in freedom and living under the open sky – how the Nazis try suppressing them, and what happens in the aftermath. We see the events unfolding through the eyes of Josef, the policeman. Though I liked Josef, my favourite character was Silenka, the gypsy medicine woman and witch who takes Josef under her wing. She is strong, inspiring, fearless, and speaks her mind. The sepia-tinted artwork by Arnaud Bétend is exquisite and is a visual treat which sets a melancholic, atmospheric tone to the story. I read that it took him four years to complete the artwork featured in the book.

I loved ‘Batchalo‘. It is one of my favourite graphic novels. I want to read more about the European gypsy community and the Tzigane community now. I am sharing the first few pages of the book, so that you can get a feel for its artwork and atmospheric tone.

Have you read ‘Batchalo‘? What do you think about it?

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