söndag 26 december 2010

Nicolas de Crécy: Glacial Period

Thousands of years from now, an expedition moves over a frozen wasteland. In it we find, among others,  an older, somewhat arrogant and bossy expedition leader, the young daughter of the man financing the expedition, and some dog-pig hybrids with excellent senses of smell (incorporating C-14 capability) and the ability to speak. Much of what has gone before has now been forgotten, and the expedition is looking for artifacts of the past to help them understand it better.

There are tensions within the party. One of the dog-pigs, Hulk (named in honor of what is believed to be an ancient god), is a glutton who's in love with the financier's daughter, Juliette, and resents the bossy behavior of the expedition leader, Gregor. He is also an object of scorn for the other pig-dogs for being a fat glutton. Meanwhile, several of the men in the expedition have a soft spot for Juliette, and tensions are rising...

Hulk gets separated from the larger group, and drops down into what turns out to be the Louvre's statuary collection. The main group discovers the Louvre's paintings and, ignorant of the history behind them, starts speculating about their meaning. Their interpretation turns out to be one expedition member reading them in sequence like a comic strip, and making up a logical and somewhat ridiculous "history" of sorts of what happened to the people of the past. Meanwhile, Hulk gets a more accurate historical recap by the statuary, which has somehow come alive during its long wait under the snow.

Where de Crécy really shines is with the art – he's very good with the colors without getting flashy, they simply work very well with his story-telling – and in depicting the relationships within groups. I know he's been getting some rave reviews for the absurd elements of his story, but I'm not all that keen on them. It works OK with the statuary coming alive and telling Hulk their story, but that's mainly – again – because he's good at depicting tensions and relationships in that particular group, as well. The segment where one expedition member lays out his theory about what the Louvre paintings depict is somewhat amusing as he is, in fact, using the classical art as panels in a comic strip, but that's really all it is. The strangers-misinterpreting-alien-or-old-artefacts story vehicle is not very original, it's been done in horror/science fiction comics before – in fact, throw in some bare breasts and bottoms and decrease the light-heartedness a bit and this could conceivably have been published in the pages of the old Heavy Metal. The book also suffers a bit from not being printed in the traditional large French album format; the pages depicting the old paintings as comics panels especially so.

So in summary: not quite a great book, but a really good one that deserves to be read, mainly for de Crécy's wonderful art, his handling of relationships and his warm eye for little humanly absurd details – like the museum statuary taking Hulk to see the nearest thing they have to a living human being, a guard-in-training who'd every morning sit and admire a particular painting and who died while doing so. These are the best parts of his story, and I would have preferred it if he'd concentrated more on these in a more "straight" story, and reined in his playfulness a bit.


(You want to learn some more about de Crécy's work, Paul Gravett is always worth reading. Here is another review – which correctly points out that de Crécy doesn't follow through properly on the relationships he establishes in the first part of the book, but the solution to that should IMHO have been to cut the satire about using the paintings as a narrative of past events to make room for following through on those relationships. Again, I see some relationship with quite a few Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal stories here.)

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar