Crossing Borders: Italians, Parisians and Frenchmen


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Mattotti’s Pinocchio hits the road, The Alliance Of The Curious hits Paris and Alan’s War refrains from hitting Germans.

Animated Pinocchio by Mattotti

It took him a long time to complete but much lauded Italian comics master Lorenzo Mattotti's animated version of Pinocchio is finally hitting the road. Directed by Enzo d'Alò, Pinocchio stays true to the original book by Collodi, stepping away from the Disney version that is the most known version probably.

Stating that the production and design work on Pinocchio was both a labour of love and a back breaker, it is clear that this version will be totally different from what we have seen on the 2D screen before. Here’s a clip from Youtube:

The Alliance Of The Curious

Intelligent action comics are a rare gem among the fast paced widescreen storytelling approach today. In The Alliance Of The Curious, artist and writer Philippe Riche just drops you into the story and takes it from there. No elaborate setups or no info dumping, you learn everything you need to know by reading between the lines of the rather sparse conversations: dealers in antiquity, living Neanderthals, battle for the heir of the count of Paris, Paris Hilton-lookalike assassination squad. 

Three antique dealers team up to work on the most bizarre and obscure of cases. Their current investigation begins when they find a reliquary in the house of a deceased elderly woman. The box contains a mysterious skull and a hair whose DNA analysis reveal that both belong to a Neanderthal man…a contemporary one…

Apart from the fact that he shares a date of birth with your humble reviewer, I must admit to knowing almost nothing about the man but his grasp of the comic language is superb. Drawn in a loose chunky line with nods to la ligne claire - f.i. there’s not one single block of solid colour in the whole book -, he delineates both background and figures with an undeniable grace. Their elongated appearances enhance their fluidity as the action flows from panel to panel, page to page.

Riche keeps the tempo of the story livid without ever bogging down the story with unnecessary details, the antique dealers stumble into one situation after another - not always of their own doing - and the dialogue is terse and funny. Though isn’t complicated in the slightest and things progress nicely from one scene to another, there’s also an element of unbridled fun to The Alliance Of The Curious that enriches the atmosphere and draws the reader in. Riche seems to bask in the tropes of the age old mystery and is unashamed to wrap it up into an action adventure story. 

The Alliance Of The Curious is a boisterous romp through both old and new Paris where story and picture work together to alchemically create a fun and intelligent action adventure story exploring the dark genealogy of the Counts of Paris.

The Alliance Of The Curious by Philippe Riche is an oversized deluxe hardcover counting 96 pages. It is published by Humanoids Inc. and retails for $29.95.

Alan’s War Vol. 3

Now that Emmanuel Guibert’s newest Alan book entitled L’Enfance D’Alan - The Childhood Of Alan - has received the annual award for best French graphic novel of 2012 from the French comics critics, it is time to revisit Guibert’s last part in his Alan’s War trilogy. In this latest volume, Alan travels back to the States only to find that it no longer comprises of what he wants in life. His travels and meetings have broadened his horizons and after attending a seminary on pastorship, he takes off and once more travels abroad with the army.

There’s a sadness permeating this volume stemming from the regret of Alan of all the years of forgotten and missed friendships caused by his late reconversion away from his life in the ministry. This third volume actually jumps ahead a fair bit in time in the third part of the book and brings the life of Alan literally to a close with Alan’s death, ending with a few pages from the authors point of view. It is a heartrending and sweet conclusion to a biographic series that expands your vision on the world and it will broaden outlook on people. 

If you are interested in how Guibert comes to his exceptional and unique drawing style for Alan's War, here's a great Youtube video where Guibert walks you through the process.

This review was based on the Alan’s War Vol.3 published in Dutch by Sylvester Strips. It is published in english by First Second collecting all 3 volumes in a 336 pages tpb.

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