The Celestial Bibendum by Nicolas de Crecy

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The Celestial Bibendum by Nicolas de Crecy

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A disabled seal, talking heads on pigs, the embodiment of dying cities and the devil - it could only be a more obscure graphic novel.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 200 Date: May 2012
Publisher: Knockabout
ISBN: 9780861661756

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Diego is new to town. He's a seal, on crutches, but don't raise an eyebrow at that - you won't have enough left to raise at what follows, when he is hounded by a singing professorial claque who go about grooming him for being a very public, hopeful figure. Observing all of this is the devil (a dwarf in check dungarees, of course), who wants Diego for his own purposes...

This is de Crecy letting himself loose, and then some. The narrator is a disembowelled head, who gets squished then seems to meet himself, and rides around on a pig. The city ruler is made of his own populus, and needs injections of his own public when ill - I was reminded of an old comic with Clive Barker having people physically forming walking cities, but this is again that and then some. And as for the plot, it is all you could imagine regarding seals, devils, professors on pigs, and nobody able to end the book without at times being not who they seem to be - and, yes, you guessed it - then some.

Which is a polite way of saying it's just a bit too out there. I was quickly out of eyebrows, however inherent the interest there should be in the devil trying to kill off the representation of hope and love. I've been to cities peopled by animals before (from Mouseguard to Grandville via the most close comparison, Guarnido's Blacksad, but the dogs here only add to the controlling human forms to make this just too weird a city to completely enjoy.

There's no complaint about the artwork, the full colour paint- and inkworks lavishly producing de Crecy's odd beauty on jumbo pages. There's detail galore in the city, too, and the art can easily cope with all the weirdness the plot demands of it. But that plot is what I couldn't fully engage with, for too much was just too bizarre. It ends with some humorous, derogatory lines about failures of stories, and if I didn't enjoy the design and the more fathomable story strands, I might well quote them, but I'll leave then where they are - in a challenging mess of eyebrow-tiring oddness.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The best graphic novel for the completely, successfully odd, stranger-in-a-strange city story, remains The Arrival by Shaun Tan.

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Buy The Celestial Bibendum by Nicolas de Crecy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Celestial Bibendum by Nicolas de Crecy at


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