Paris by Maarten vande Wiele

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Paris by Maarten vande Wiele

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A raunchy and ridiculously enjoyable read, this holds the crown at the moment for graphic novels that don't sound like they could be any good but are. But then, that's only as fleeting as fashion...
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 216 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Knockabout
ISBN: 9780861661732

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In the category of graphic novels not to be seen reading in public, Paris is way up there. With a gaudy pink and silver glitz cover, and a lot of blowjobs and sex inside, it's not one for the daily commute. But, even though it's subject matter is merely the unlikely choice of the rags-to-riches-to-rags tale of three Parisian starlets, it is certainly worth a decent perusal. Hope was a juvenile beauty queen, and could now work in fashion were it not for scars due to a car crash, and Faith wishes for the vicarious life of pop stardom, and it's no spoiler to report who and what they find will disappoint them. Chastity, the most sarcastically-named character in comix, is happy enough destroying herself.

It's quite daft how much I enjoyed this book, when you realise my aversion to the naivety of the Hello, Heat, and - more commonly - the Who-the-F***? world the heroines aspire to. The naivety is perfectly captured by the model on the front cover, a be-bereted doll in a Little Black Dress, with the Eiffel Tower on the front, which has its skeletal arched legs straddling her crotch area, arcing up to present a penis at the top blatantly squirting a radio antenna of semen into her smiling face.

Nothing inside catches the point, ethos and design of the book so well, however. Design is clearly the point, as each fashion label the cast is depicted in is clearly annotated in footnotes. The ugly scenes of coke, orgies and size zeroes bitch-slapping seem perfect matches for Wiele's style, which, while not to my usual taste, is perfectly apt for wide-eyed, glassy-featured wastrels. Bold black and white, with occasional texturing, brings the blatant immediacy of a tabloid funny page, only a thumbed turn or two away from the celebrity gossip pages so easily captured herein.

So while it's not exactly going to be my favourite graphic title, for the surprising way it engaged me with a theme that leaves me cold, a plot making a virtue of told-you-so predictability, and characters you wouldn't give the time of day to in real life, this really does come across as a successful book. It's a hefty medium-sized volume, with a cover halfway between paper- and hardback, and Knockabout have done Wiele well. (I forgive them some lapses in translating the footnotes, but all the English-language relettering looks great.) I won't be papped with it walking down the street, but for someone else it could easily happen.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For similar subjects, we love OK! Magazine. No, sorry, we don't, but The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger remains the sine qua non of fashion-based tawdryness. Daahlings.

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Buy Paris by Maarten vande Wiele at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Paris by Maarten vande Wiele at


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