Grandville by Bryan Talbot

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Grandville by Bryan Talbot

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A quick and quirky read from this consummate artiste of the graphic novel, with a badger unravelling crimes galore. Do not confuse this with the Open All Hours TV programme.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 104 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
ISBN: 978-0224084888

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A dead body found in rural England leads D I LeBrock to urban France, where he is destined to unravel a conspiracy of revolution, treason, and propaganda of potentially global reach. What is the truth behind the fall of a famous tower under air attack a few years ago? Why are so many suspicious suicides coming to attention? And will LeBrock be helped or hindered by his being, as his name suggests, a badger?

This is an unusual title for Talbot, giving us a slightly old-fashioned tale in slightly old-fashioned (but certainly not out-moded) style, with anthropomorphised animals, steampunk, and more. It strikes as a sort of balance between his earlier fantasy illustration work, and his more personal, revolutionary, state-of-the-nation titles.

It still manages to pack in a hefty dose of modern, sociopolitical concerns (as highlighted by my mention of the tower earlier) in among the genre entertainment, added to which are enjoyably painful puns, references to artistes who are his and my favourites, and a great in-joke for fans of sequential arts.

And it all looks great. I have reasons to quibble over some of the scale - our badger managing to headbut a nasty elephant at one time - but otherwise everything is fine. It is all done with great skill, somewhere between ligne claire and something more detailed, likewise the colouring and design are balanced between the regular and the finely crafted, the realistic and the artistic.

It may seem slight when shelved next to his more recent work, such as Alice in Sunderland - it certainly seems a striking change in approach yet again, and is all the welcome for it. It's a thriller with Talbot's personal touches and artistic tastes and concerns layered on, and I know of nobody else's in British comics that one could prefer.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

A very different graphic novel with other animals in that is equally worth reading is Pride of Baghdad by Brian K Vaughan.

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