|Growing up I never really got into comics all that much and the most I ever got into superheroes was Batman, Ninja Turtles and Zorro. I grew out of the first two by the time I was 8 or 9 although I still like the Turtle movies and I love Zorro (which is not really a comic or typical superhero), but Zorro is a culture thing (and no, I am not saying that other comics are non-cultural). Another thing I might mention: comics of all sorts in Europe differ greatly from those in other parts of the world like the U.S., especially in France where illustration work for comics is a particularly revered position/skill in the art world.
Although I never did read comic books as a kid, I knew how they were laid out for the most part and when I read the description of this book, I thought it was going to be a book with blocks of text and some nice interpretive illustrations placed in here and there. No. This graphic novel is in the style of a comic book. The story is rather interesting as it revolves around a conjuror who has to deal with his own inner demons as well as those of everyday life. The settings are rather realistic cities during specific periods of time, so this is not your typical comic book where the cities are made up (such as Gotham City in the Batman world).
There are many different themes covered in this story as it goes along and the things you will find include fantasy (not far-flung, but fantasy nonetheless), surrealism, deja vu, hallucinations, erotica (more on this later), horror/murder scenes, magic (sorcery) and conjuring, among other things. As I mentioned earlier with the way this book is written, it is laid out like a comic book but it reads more like a novel. The story is a progressive one so it is not something that you could read by jumping from the middle sections to the front and back again; in other words, part 4 will not make sense without first reading 1, 2 and 3 in order. Having said that, the story was pretty well-written with a nice flow that made it easy to follow the story line.
The story is richly illustrated in full color by the art of Francois Boucq. Since I have never really been into comic books I cannot draw a parallel to compare it to, but if you are familiar with the American newspaper comics, these illustrations are close to some of the more detailed comic strips only much better in resolution. I found that the layout of the text and the illustrations was easy to follow and only had trouble on a page or two making sure I was reading it in the right order.
Earlier I mentioned erotica - let me define that here. Let me just start by saying that this book is not necessarily meant for younger readers (even the back of the cover says it is suggested for mature readers) because among some of the more complicated issues that the book deals with is sex. There are erotic scenes and partial nudity depicted in the book. In my opinion they were in good taste for what they are but you may not share that view; they are, however, definitely mature material and parents that might purchase this for their younger children need to read it first.
The story itself takes up 79 pages by my count, starting on page 3 and ending on 82, preceeded by a Foreword and a special note to American readers by the author, Jerome Charyn. The booklet is perfect bound in soft cover with a smooth matte finish, it has a full color illustration on the front and a smaller illustration on the back with some information on the story and its history. The price of $14.95/USD is very good for a booklet of this quality.
If you are not familiar with the work of Francois Boucq or Jerome Charyn, they have background information on the inside rear cover for each of them, as well as information in the Foreword and the Note by the author.
If you are into comics and/or graphic novels that cover a variety of themes and are richly illustrated, this is for you!
Suggestions from the ReviewerDISCLAIMER: This graphic novel is suggested for mature readers!