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on 6 January 2010
"Grandville" is the name of the French city where two detectives go to investigate the murder of a British Ambassador. They dodge street gangs, save a damsel in distress, uncover yet more murders while picking up clues, and avoid being corpses themselves. In short, your usual detective story.

What makes this so much more than average is the stunning artwork Talbot's created. Motorised carriages, robots, airships, antiquated yet futuristic weaponry, panoramic views of Victorian streets populated with colourful animal headed people, highly detailed crowd scenes and polished buildings all presented on glossy, high quality paper.

I won't describe the background to this strange world as it'll take ages but it's fascinating and the detective characters are interesting and though Brock is perhaps an amalgam of popular detectives (Holmes, Marlowe, Hammer) he's compelling enough to be different in his own right. Readability is something few graphic novelists have in them but Talbot's work is so detailed you'll miss certain references that you'll discover upon going back. There's a lot of references to children's books that anyone who's familiar with them will enjoy like Beatrix Potter's characters and Herge's Snowy (presented here as an opium addicted tramp).

Possibly my favourite Bryan Talbot book and good place to start if you're new. Very accessible, very layered, a superb book and one of the highlights of comics in 2009.
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on 17 December 2011
The caption and the other reviewers have already said a lot about Grandville, so I'll just settle for a dissection of what I think is good and bad about it.

What I think is good about it:

DI Archie LeBrock; the hero of the story. Razor sharp wits, charismatic, massively strong, tough as old boots and easy to respect.
Steampunk concept; I love science fiction and classic technology so the blending of both is, for me, creative genius.
Upright, talking animals; I've always loved animal stories and this takes it to a whole new level.
The political intrigue plot; classic whodunnit style with two posh, very British detectives trying to unravel it (one's a badger and one's a rat!) There's mysteries, peril and fights aplenty.
The quality of the graphic novel art; the storyline is clearly told, unconfusing while at the same time and beautifully illustrated.
The hot-blooded aspects; the book features romantic toussles and saucy Parisian showgirls in corsets and suspenders!
The subtleties; e.g., a xenophobic eagle referencing Manet's "Bar at the Folies Bergere", references to Rupert Bear and Tintin, famous paintings with animal instead of human faces. You have to read it more than once to catch anything, even though the story is simple to follow.
Even the less believable things don't ruin the story; e.g. black and white television in a supposedly Victorian setting, the obvious contemporary political references, a hog-nosed bat in a hoop skirt at a peace rally, a fish with hands and feet waiting tables, bird with hands wearing suits.

What I think is bad about it:

Little or nothing.
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Grandville is a lavishly presented and beautifully drawn Steam Punk graphic novel from Bryan Talbot.

The tale is set in an alternative universe of talking animals (where hairless talking chimps are a novelty) where Britain was conquered by Napolean and was part of the French empire for centuries before gaining independence and introduces a tale of conspiracy being investigated by Inspector LeBrock as he searches and battles his way through an alternative Paris in search of a group of murderers.

The book is present in hardback and is very sturdy and well presented. With good writing, fun characters and wonderful artwork this is a real treat. Well worth a look.
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on 20 December 2009
This is a really good read set in a dystopian, imaginary parallel universe where animals rule and humans clean up after them. Throw in some revisionist history - What if Napoleonic France had conquered Britain? Mix in some elements of 9/11 attacks and conspiracy theories. Have the conspiracy investigated by a Sherlock Holmes style badger and you are almost there.

superb artwork, great story, and this is a wonderful hardcover edition. Worth buying and deserving of a place in most graphic novel collections. Time may prove this to be a classic, but for the moment, it's simply a barstorming read.
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on 28 June 2013
Grandville is a anthropomorphic steam-punk graphic novel. This was a risk for me. I have read some anthropomorphic comics before, mostly books by Jason, but steam-punk? My knowledge of that genre falls into two sides: Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which I loved and the film Wild Wild West with Will Smith which is just nonsense.

Detective-Inspector LeBrock works out of Scotland Yard. This case sees him chase a band of killers through Paris. LeBrock is a badger and an occasionally scary one at that. I wondered if Talbot was making a subconscious statement about badger-culling here (!).

The book was inspired by an French 19thC illustrator, Gerard who worked under the name of J J Grandville, but the book also checks Conan Doyle, Tarantino and other anthropomorphic characters like Rupert the Bear. At one point a character even mutter "Badgers?! We don't need no steenkin' badgers!"

The artwork is absolutely stunning. It is bold, colourful and lavish. The characters, costumes and landscapes are fantastically detailed. Sometimes I lost the plot of the story as I waded in the artwork and for that reason I feel a little disappointed. I think I have to re-read this book again and again for it all to sink in. And that's no bad thing.
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on 12 October 2009
This tale bristles with references and knowing winks to things as diverse as Sherlock Holmes, Blazing Saddles and Rupert. I could just as easily have cited X-men and H G Wells.

It's also full of original wit and thinking, all adding up to make a great adventure, a Ripping Yarn even.

The thrust of the plot pulled me through quickly on the first reading, but I knew as I went that I'd be returning to read again a savour the finer details.

To date I've read two Bryan Talbot books, each with its own a distinct style, but both excellent and each highly recommendable, especially to those new to graphic novels.
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on 11 October 2009
A violent conspiracy theory based in a society where Napolean defeated the British, before a rebellion led the UK to being declared an independent republic, in which almost all the characters are animals and the lead character is a brutal British badger detective.

What's not to love.

The conspiracy itself is a bit hackneyed, but I am assuming this is an entertainment rather than a serious barb cast at the war on terror so am not going to write any pompous critique of that.

I hear Talbot is planning to produce more volumes. I hope he does.
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on 3 December 2015
No Spoilers. The blurb for this says it’s a mix of Arthur Conan Doyle, Rupert Bear and Quinten Tarintino and believe it or not that is a perfect description of this graphic novel. It’s also quite pulp and trashy but proudly and deliberately and of course it works. I really loved this, the artwork is gorgeous and my hardback edition has an excellent print. Only fault is that I often wished it would slow down and flesh out the characters a little more as I feel they are more interesting and deeper than we get to see. Everyone knows this is a masterpiece and a very highly praised graphic novel, I was just so surprised that it more than lived up to its reputation. A must read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 August 2011
Although several friends are great fans of the graphic novel, I have never read many in the past. However, my eye was caught by Bryan Talbot's Grandville when visiting a science fiction exhibition at the British Library in which it features. So off to Amazon it was to get a copy - and I'm mighty glad I did for it is a fantastically inventive and sumptuous graphical treat.

There are some niggles about this steampunk tale for sure - the plot is little more that a caricature of a left-wing conspiracy theory and the cover of the book is poorly done (wonky sticker on the back, very easily scuffed edges and spine).

But ignore those and enjoy instead the beautifully drawn and reproduced pictures inside of a world where France won the Napoleonic wars, Victorian technology still dominates (it's a world of steam cars and airships) and the Earth is inhabited by anthropomorphised animals.

There are many sly allusions in Talbot's imaginary world, such as the regular appearance of famous works of art on the walls which have had humans replaced with animals in them. Talbot does this sort of referential detail with real skill - if you understand the references, they add to the enjoyment, and if you don't understand the references, then no matter - the scene still looks good and makes sense as far as the story goes. Rather like Terry Pratchett, Bryan Talbot can satirise without baffling the less knowledgeable reader with obscure detail in the way works more traditionally viewed as having literary merit can do.

So enjoy the world of detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard (badger) as he mixes Sherlock Holmes with Rambo to save, if not the world, at least Britain.
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on 17 October 2009
First of all, this is a hardback which is well worth the expense. The covers are substantial and great to look at, and the artwork within is printed on luxurious, high-quality paper which is a very pleasant surprise.

As to the story, Bryan Talbot has written and illustrated another memorable and individual piece of fiction, drawing on some quality Victorian (and more recent) inspiration to create a story that tips knowing winks to its source material, in much the same fashion as Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. There is a lot more humour to be found here however, including some wonderfully bad puns which sound entirely appropriate in the period setting.

The setting itself is unique, peopled as it is by anthropomorphised animals in an alternate Europe which evokes Talbot's own Luther Arkwright. His artwork is simple but beautifully done and entirely appropriate, allowing the odd bit of Herge to slip in without a ripple. The animal characters are largely charming, particularly softly-spoken but hard-hitting badger protagonist DI LeBrock, and their relationship with humans is a hoot. The plot has terrific pace, and is punctuated with moments of sudden and brutal violence. If this tale were populated entirely by humans this might seem run-of-the-mill, but when the hurt is being given and taken by animals, it takes on a more disconcerting tone, only adding to the otherworldly nature of Grandville.

Altogether this is a great read, denied a star as it's too short to allow the plot to twist as much as it wants to. I shall certainly be keeping an eye out for the next Detective Inspector LeBrock novel, in glorious hardback. Top-hole.
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