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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New York, Mon Amour (Graphic Novel)

By: Jacques Tardi (artist on all, plus author on one), Bejamin Legrand (auhtor of Cockroach Killer), Dominique Grange (author of It's So Hard and Hung's Murder)

 Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1 edition (July 2, 2012)

Hardcover 82 pages

Finished 9/12/2017

Amazon Listing

    Collecting four graphic short stories from one of the most influential French artists. I have to assume that the title is ironic considering the New York City as depicted in these tales is anything but romantic. Taking place in the late 70s - early 80s, New York, with all of that era’s decaying infrastructure, grime, moral lapses, and crime. The City that Never Sleeps here is a cesspool and the art reflects that. Drawn in black and white, with various shades of grey, the art itself seems slimy, as if handling it could give you a tapeworm. This reflects the tenor of the stories perfectly. 

    The first tale, Cockroach Killer, is the longest, taking up fifty of the eighty one pages. It is a paranoid tale, centering on an exterminator who may or may not have overheard details of a worldwide conspiracy, and who may or may not have ended up an unwilling assassin in that conspiracy’s  unfolding. It is a near hallucinatory tale and, like all good stories in this vein, it is open to interpretation.
    The next three are considerably shorter. It’s So Hard (no it’s not pornographic) deals with the trials of a hunchbacked man in the early 80s who otherwise looks like John Lennon. He spends his days in seclusion waiting for the day that the singer falls out of the public eye, so that he can live his life not being mistake for him.
    Manhattan deals with a depressed man who travels to the borough from France for unknown reasons. I think it was just an excuse for the author to draw the city as it features quite a lot of the old New York landscapes in the background. It is a simple tale, told well. 
Author and artist Jacques Tardi
    The last, Hung’s Murder, deals with a mother who comes to New York from a small village in Vietnam to track down and kill the marine who killed her son and raped her. It is an emotionally brutal tale and does end as you would expect.
Tardi’s work is inspirational, even if grimy. It simply is more proof that the French are always ahead of us in artistic forms. Not enough of this stuff gets translated into English. This is the reason I’m relearning the language, because of all of the great material I’m missing out on. 

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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