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Rohan at the Louvre

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Rohan at the Louvre

Credits

  • Words: Hirohiko Araki
  • Art: Hirohiko Araki
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing
  • Price: $19.99
  • Release Date: Apr 25, 2012

NBM’s latest ComicsLit offering excavates the darkest secrets of the Louvre in Hirohiko Araki’s surreal meditation on creative inspiration.

For their most recent graphic novel in their series commissioned by the Louvre, NBM looked farther afield than previous editions. The first non-French creator to complete a book in the series, celebrated Japanese mangaka Hirohiko Araki turns in a kaleidoscopic exploration of the creative process as his famous character Rohan embarks on a most intimate quest to find a mysterious painting rumored to exist in the bowels of the Louvre.

More a fantastic rumination on the nature of inspiration and its place in the creative process, than a history lesson or examination of a particular artist, as past offerings in the Louvre collection have tended to be, Rohan at the Louvre sets itself apart both in visual tone and story content. Araki draws on the conventions of his native Japanese manga to dazzling effect, utilizing jarring visual transitions with intuitive ease and building innovative layouts that capitalize on the reversed reading direction of right-to-left. It takes a little getting used to for someone unaccustomed to reading comics "backwards," but once you settle into the rhythm, the reversal somehow helps support the descent into Araki’s twisted imagination.

Araki rendering is an interesting mix of eastern and western influences. A refreshing departure from the usual over-exaggerated, animated Japanese style, Araki’s figures feel as if they have true weight to them, as he twists and contorts their postures a little more with each page. As Rohan descends further into the depths of the Louvre’s labyrinthine system of sub-basements and his own creative sinkhole, Araki’s figures become more grotesque and improbable; each supporting cast member succumbing to a horrible darkness from their ancestral past with surreal, truly unsettling ultra-violence.

A definite departure from past offerings in their Louvre series, Araki’s Rohan at the Louvre is a refreshing, visceral exploration of the concept of the artistic muse and the desperate lengths most of us will go to capture and hold onto inspiration.

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