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The genesis of Tardi's genius,
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This review is from: The Arctic Marauder (Adventures of Jerome Plumier) (Hardcover)
The world of comics or graphic novels strange. I would have to admit that I can't stand the Marvel style characters who seem to take themselves too seriously as well as having a strong aversion to their Right Wing perspective of things. To me they glorify everything that is wrong with America. On the otherhand, I find the French BD totally compelling whether they might be books about the history of aviation or infamous French Queens. One of the champions of French BD has been Jacques Tardi who is probably best known for his character Adele Blanc Sec as well the shockingly honest depictions of the First World War. Tardi's "Artic Marauder" pre-dates ABS but is very much in the same vein with it's depiction of unlikely heroes, fantastic Victorian contraptions and science fiction.
I suppose the biggest surprise was approaching Tardi in an English translation as opposed to the French which can be a bit difficult. The reason for this is that the text if full of character and includes a large amount of slang - he is the Charles Dickens of graphic novels. I find the style of writing to be very amusing and also tongue in cheek. The idosyncratic writing really adds colour to the narrative and it is clear that Tardi has expertly re-cast the old Victorian penny-dreadfuls in to graphic novel form. If I'm honest, the ABS volumes have the edge over this earlier effort but the best stories regarding his heroine certainly build upon this book.
In it's favour the illustrations are absolutely beautiful and the black and white images serve to add to the story. You could imagine that if the Victorian's had graphic novels, they would look like this. My only reservation is that the story lacks the sophistication and convuluted nature of ABS but this nine-volume series really shows Tardi at the top of his game. Certainly, Tardi's creations had become far more sophisticated in ABS but it is worthwhile remembering that this was written in 1974. I would still rate this as five stars and this English -translation is nicely presented in a high quality edition. It is genuinely a think of beauty. All in all, this story may have taken it's cues from Jules Verne, but the spin is very much Tardi's own and is demonstrative as to why is he rightly considered to be such a great artist by many.