Monday, 24 May 2010

Grandville: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Talbot

Grandville: A Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard Scientific-Romance Thriller, is the latest graphic novel by Bryan Talbot. Inspired by nineteenth-century French illustrator Gerard, who worked under the nom de plum J.J. Greandville, the novel is the story of DI LeBrock on the hunt for the ruthless killers of a British diplomat. All fairly standard so far, but that is all that is standard in this graphic novel...

The first stand out point of the book is the characters themselves. Talbot has substituted the majority of the characters with animals instead of humans, whilst humans in the book are referred to as under-developed 'dough-faces', who are little better than slaves and have no citizens rights. The use of anthropomorphous animals is done excellently, with some hilarious results such as the drug dealing horse and the poodle hooker!

Another key part of the book is it's setting. Based mainly in France, Grandville is an alternate history story, set in a world where Napoleon won the war and Britain is little more than a colony that has just won independence. Alternate histories are a real favourite of mine, if done well, and Grandville does is perfectly. You are made aware of the worlds history early on, and the plot is largely based around the politics of this alternate timeline, but you are not smothered by it, which is something that has blighted many other books. If an author keeps emphasising the differences of their world to ours, it somehow looses it's sense of reality. The same can be said of the fact that this graphic novel falls into the category of 'steampunk', but Talbot understates this fact and it almost becomes unnoticeable, whilst managing to be an integral part of the story.

I was originally unimpressed by the artwork in Grandville, in fact it almost put me off completely, but whilst reading the book I realised how engrossing and beautifully detailed it is, with deep, rich colours and a great sense of pace. I particularly like both the blood and the movement effects, which are done perfectly. Talbot is clearly a masterful artist.

All in all I loved Grandville. It is a graphic novel I have been wanting to read for a long while and I am so glad I finally have. If anything, my only gripe is with the length of the book, I feel it could have been fleshed out more, it could have gone deeper into the heart of the story and we could have learnt more about the brilliant Detective-Inspector LeBrock. Fingers crossed that this is not a one off, as I can't wait for more Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard Scientific-Romance Thrillers!

Highly Recommended.

P.S. I love the front cover of this book!

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