This graphic novel probably would have past me by if it wasn’t for all the hype around the movie based on the same story. The movie won the Palme d’or which is the highest prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and has helped rush Arsenal Pulp Press to release an English translation though in time for the movies international d’but.
The comic version was originally published in 2010 and is the first book to get a big release by French author and artist Julie Maroh who has previously self published her work.
One of the best things I like about this book is that it’s a classic European comic with the mature story and style of art I’ve only seen in few comics. It’s the first French graphic novel I’ve read and from reading a lot of science fiction comics recently it’s a nice change to read something that’s grounded. Although it isn’t based on a true story it is a classic tale of forbidden love.
Julie Maroh started working on this book when she was 19 and it then took five years to complete. Taking that in account and the fact it’s hand drawn makes the consistency and beautiful artwork throughout even more impressive.
The artwork is so well thought out and paced just like the story. Julie has used a lot of art techniques to make the book something really special. The book starts off with dull colours and then moved to black and white with flashes of blue similar to how Frank Miller used odd bits of colour in Sin City. Julie Maroh uses the splashes of colour to highlight parts of the page as a lot of it is flash backs and read through a girls diary so the blue bits symbolise memorable parts of the story, mainly the other girls hair who she falls in love with. Then towards the end when things look a bit brighter in the story the colour fills the pages.
I love the artwork and I would buy the book for it alone. It’s a book for mature readers and Julie Maroh draws a natural woman’s figure the only way a woman can which helps when there is this much nudity in a comic.
Story wise it’s not like any graphic novel I’ve read before but would like to read again. I’m a fan of science fiction and super hero comics but it’s nice to read something grounded like this. It’s like a modern day Romero a Juliet in a lot of ways it’s themed about first love and forbidden love along with people being pulled in different directions be their feelings.
Julie Maroh has given a lot of thought into the characters giving you all the important details about them to make the story work. Although it’s based on flash backs it’s all very recent to them and you don’t know about their past other than what’s in the book which is all that’s needed to tell the story.
It ends tragically but it’s a clean end which completes the story very well. I haven’t seen the movie but have heard the ending is a lot less dramatic which would take away a lot of function away from the story in terms of all the flash backs and use of the diary. The movie sounds like it follows a similor story but the way it is told sounds very different to the book and misses out bits which made the comic really worth reading.
The movie seems to be a lot more popular at the moment and once it is released on DVD and available to a wider audience it will bring a lot more attention to this highly awesome book.
Overall it’s an awesome graphic novel with some beautiful artwork and a well thought out story so I’d highly recommend reading it if you can track down a copy. It’s one of those books that will convince a lot of people to learn French just so you can read the original version. Julie Maroh is going to be massively popular in the future and I’m looking forward to what she does in the future, if she did ever cross over to the science fiction or super hero genres of comics it would be epic but I can’t see that happening.
Posted by Adi Mursec on December 10, 2013
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