Thursday, July 08, 2010

Grandville by Bryan Talbot

This book was SO much fun to read! How's that for an opening? I don't usually gravitate toward graphic novels and often find graphics amidst words a bit distracting, so I was rather surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'm not an experienced graphic novel reader and can count the number of reads in this format on one hand. Yeah, a real newbie. I also have no experience reviewing the format ... but I'll try.

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw Grandville at the bookstore was the cover art. Very appropriate for a graphic novel I would think. Of course, it didn't take me long to note the subtitle: A Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard Scientific-Romance Thriller. Now that just sounds cool ... a detective inspector, Scotland Yard, and scientific-romance thriller ... with the Eiffel Tower and dirigibles on the cover no less. Yup, definitely cool. Then I opened the book and fell in love. The graphics. Oh my, the graphics. I have no idea how to objectively judge graphic novel art, but I can judge it subjectively. Kind of like my skill at judging wine. If I like it, then it's good *smile*. So, please keep this in mind as you read my comments.

OK, back to the graphics. The colors are bold and the artist appears to consider color in matching the mood of the scene presented. Some frames use a warm tone, like this one:

Other frames use cool tones, like this night time rooftop frame:

I love the depictions of an English village. You might be able to see the character mowing his lawn in the yard across the street:

I was enamored by all the details. Grandville has plenty to look at and deserves extra time in order to notice those details. I'm assuming that the artwork in a graphic novel should be a major part of the storytelling but I have seen some that do not seem to follow this rule, so perhaps that is just my preference. Either way, the artwork in Grandville is definitely a part of the telling.

Another thing that stood out to me was the way the artist captures action. Wow! The frames practically move. You've really just got to see it for yourself. I don't think I can adequately describe it to you using words

You might be wondering about the story. The story is fairly simple, but it kept me wondering what would happen next. I see that as a positive sign. The setting is an alternate history that, as alternate histories do, takes liberties with the timeline of real history. Interestingly, it is sometimes inconsistent with its own created history (e.g. Britishisms? Scotland Yard? Really? Even though Napoleon conquered Great Britain? Oh well, it was still charming.). The characters are primarily anthropomorphized animals with very few human characters even appearing. The few humans that do appear are referred to as "doughfaces" and don't seem to be full citizens in Talbot's world. An interesting twist. LeBrock is a badger ... and just wait until you meet the mole! I just loved the mole. I'm a fan of Victoriana and steampunk and truly enjoyed seeing the artist's depictions of these elements. The author's use of current terrorism concerns was interesting. Social satire? I'm not sure if he was poking fun or if he was letting his politics hang out. Just. Not. Sure.

Re-readability? I'll be reading this one a second time just to revisit the art.

Above graphic from Sequel to Bryan Talbot's Grandville Gets a Synopsis

Author website: Bryan Talbot

See what other bloggers have to say:
Shanra at LibriTouches

Have I missed your review? Leave me a link in the comments and I'll add yours.


  1. That cover would grab me, too! Sounds very interesting, Terri. Thanks.

  2. I can't believe I haven't read this yet, especially considering how much I tend to love Talbot's work! The terrorism thing has me intrigued, though. I guess I'll read it and find out how I feel about it :P

  3. Glad you enjoyed this one, Terri :) So this is why you were asking me if I read this one the other day! I've read two of his other books, Alice in Sunderland and The Tale of One Bad Rat and both were quite good!! He's really quite an amazing artist. I really need to get my hands on this one!!

  4. This looks/sounds awesome. Thanks for blogging about it Teri.

  5. Ooh, I have this out from the library right now! I think I'll tackle it this weekend.

  6. ds: I'm a sucker for cover art!

    Nymeth: I will look forward to your thoughts on the story.

    Chris: I've got Alice in Sunderland on my radar. I'm not sure who to give a Bad Blogger point to for this one: you, Nymeth, Shanra? Hmmmm ...

    Diane: Are you a graphic novel reader? It's a new-ish format for me.

    Memory: Oooh! Can't wait to see what you have to say about it. Yes, please read it this weekend ;o)