Across the Ocean: Izneo Pubwatch February

Across the Ocean: Izneo Pubwatch February

Welcome to the February Izneo Pubwatch! We at WWAC have been diving into the latest in European graphic novels translated into English, and I can’t wait to share with you my latest finds. There are also some exciting offers from Izneo this month that you might enjoy. As always, if you haven’t had time yet,

Welcome to the February Izneo Pubwatch! We at WWAC have been diving into the latest in European graphic novels translated into English, and I can’t wait to share with you my latest finds. There are also some exciting offers from Izneo this month that you might enjoy. As always, if you haven’t had time yet, please do check out Izneo’s site, it’ll be fun!

And now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the latest news from Izneo. I’ve also got a few mini-reviews of their newest comics for you to read.

In the News…

Just in time for Valentine’s day, Izneo has a sexy comic book sale till February 15. Stock up on volumes of The Muse, Olympia, The Dream, and more, available from as little as CDN $4 to CDN $8.

For Warhammer fans, Izneo is offering an amazing discount—up to 66%. That means that Warhammer comics that were initially priced at $6 are now available for as little as $1.15! But if you want to avail yourself of this offer, you’d best hurry, as it only lasts till February 4.

Archie Comics fans, rejoice! Izneo has just become your one-stop shop for all things Archie. Alongside Archie digests, Izneo will now host several Archie collections, including The CW’s Riverdale tie-in comics, Sabrina, and Josie and the Pussycats.

Mini-Reviews: Loved It!

The Daughters of Salem: How we sent our children to their deaths Part 1

Cromatik Ltd (letters), Thomas Gilbert (writer and artist), Montana Kane (translation)
Dargaud (French, 2018)
Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Cover for The Daughters of Salem, Written and drawn by Thomas Gilbert. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019 - Four women in long dresses cross a fallen tree to get over a forested cliff
In the peaceful village of Salem, young Abigail is growing into a woman, and she doesn’t like it. She’s being treated differently, has no freedom any more, nor any future. What she does have are her friends, Betty Parris and Bridget Bishop. And then there’s her secret friend—the man in black—but she can’t tell anyone about him.

When the village experiences a series of ecological disasters, the villagers, spurred by the god-fearing Reverend Parris, take up arms against the “devils” they believe are poisoning their land. But these “devils” are the makings of the villagers’ own imagination, and soon those faces begin to take more familiar shapes. As Abigail watches, her peaceful village becomes a hellscape of hatred and murder. Who will be sacrificed next in the name of faith?

The Daughters of Salem is an expectedly dark tale, which resonates with many issues faced by modern women. Though this book isn’t historically accurate, and takes some liberties in its depiction of some of the relationships between the characters, for the most part it works.

I would have preferred for Abigail and Betty’s friendship to be less centred around Abigail’s affection for the man in black. That a 100-page comic book can’t pass the Bechdel-Wallace test is a crying shame. However, I like that for the most part, the female friendships are positive and there is no back-stabbing.

The Daughters of Salem page 52-53. Written and drawn by Thomas Gilbert. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019 - A complex panel in which a snake weaves through various figures, including a crone, a black bear holding a bow, a shadowy female figure, what appears to be misshapen monsters, and an Indigenous American whose speech panels seem to overlay all these images

I love the art. This is not the style that I generally enjoy but it is exactly what this book needs. The whimsical faces and the contrasting colours set the tone for the story and create an excellent sense of atmosphere. I cannot wait to read the next part.

Little Miss Cheery

Cromatik Ltd (letters), Edward Gauvin (translation), Séverine Lambour (colours), Benoit Springer (artist and colours), Zidrou (writer)
Dupuis (French, 2018)
Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Little Miss Cheery cover. Written by Zidrou and drawn by Benoit Springer. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019. - An ostrich holds a human eyeball by the optic nerve from its beak, looking bored or indifferent
Pep is trying to murder his wife. It’s the plan his step-daughter, Beli, and he have concocted so they can be together. Beli has always hated her neglectful mother, and has been in love with her step-father for a long time. Out in the middle of nowhere, it shouldn’t be a problem for Pep to bash his wife’s skull in and dump her body in a well, right? So why does he come back home to find his wife waiting for him?

I was initially wary of coming across yet another story about a murderous husband lusting after his teenaged step-daughter, but that premise simply frames this unusual narrative. If you are expecting a straight-up murder mystery, Little Miss Cheery is so much more than that.

Usually, I’m not a fan of open endings but I love that there is no explanation as to how the wife is still alive despite being killed multiple times. It’s a supernatural angle that elevates Little Miss Cheery.

Though protagonist Pep is the focus here, it is Beli, the teenage femme fatale, who steals the show. Her vitriol towards her mother is so powerful it oozes off the page. And I love her brilliant, scheming mind. She thinks of everything for their plan to murder her mother, down to the last detail.

Little Miss Cheery page 12. Written by Zidrou and drawn by Benoit Springer. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019. - Various panels showing a car driving into "Ostrich Paradise," parking, and a man walking inside a trailer
The art is good and the character work by Benoit Springer is very strong. There is a lot of emotion in Little Miss Cheery, and Springer manages to capture it all. What I found most fascinating, though, was the use of colour. Springer and colourist Séverine Lambour use a variety of hues to wash out scenes, adding a whole different feel to the atmosphere of this book. It can seem overly dark, but that’s the point—this isn’t a bright story! And that’s why I love it.

Mini-Reviews: Meh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Art of Dying

Philippe Berthet (artist), Cromatik Ltd (letters), Dominique David (colours), Matt Madden (translation), Raule (writer and artist)
Dargaud Benelux (French, 2018)
Europe Comics (English, 2019)

The Art of Dying cover. Written and drawn by Raule. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019. - A beareded man with tattooes covering his faced, bald head and neck leans over the face of a pale woman who appears to be in a bathtub filled with blood

French Detective Philippe Martin has just found out he has a daughter, Emma, under the worst circumstances possible—the Barcelona police call him with news that a woman has committed suicide, leaving behind a note that declares Martin as her father.

Martin takes it upon himself to investigate his alleged daughter’s death and it soon becomes clear that it wasn’t suicide—she was murdered. The deeper Martin digs, the closer he gets to uncovering a crime syndicate with international ties. But if Martin gets too close to the truth, he could end up getting burned. Literally.

I like a good murder mystery and The Art of Dying ticks most boxes for me. The story was engaging, and had lots of twists and turns that were completely unexpected. If you’re looking for a page-turner, this is definitely it.

The Art of Dying pages 54 and 55. Written and drawn by Raule. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019. - Panels showing a white-haired man in a suit jacket as he has walks through a hedge maze, where he then fires a gun into the air

The art is gorgeous. I loved every page, and honestly feel like I’ve visited Barcelona, not just read a comic book based there. Writer and artist Raule opens the book with an ode to his beloved city and it shows in every panel. He lovingly recreates numerous locations, not just the touristy spots one would encounter in other books, but the parts we don’t usually see as well.

The only problem I have with this book are the characters. Philippe is a kind of Charles Bronson super-man, able to single-handedly take down an international syndicate he knows nothing about when the Spanish police have been after them for eighteen months. All the women are damsels in distress, and Philippe’s ex-wife is a one-dimensional “crazy ex-girlfriend.” Had the characters been better developed, this would have been the immersive and fun thriller that its premise suggests. Nonetheless, this is a book you might want to check out.

Mini-Reviews: Ugh, no!

Seven Places Without You

Juan Berrio (writer and artist), Fiona Marshall (translation)
Dibbuks Edicione (Spanish, 2018)
Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Seven Places Without You cover. Written and drawn by Juan Berrio. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019. - A woman walks up the stairs, eyes closed, looking melancholy
Elena and Jorge’s relationship is ending. Jorge has practically disappeared, without a single phone call or message to Elena, even though she is living with Jorge in his parents’ home. Clearly it is time for Elena to move out and find a place of her own.

But Elena can’t seem to go anywhere where she doesn’t already share memories with Jorge. These constant reminders of what she had makes her wonder if she is ever going to get him back. Does she even want that?

I wanted to like this book. It’s so melancholic and atmospheric. Elena is sweet and everything about her is relatable—her friends are exactly like the friends most of us have, and her life could belong to any student we know.

As a protagonist, Elena is lovely, but also extremely bland. Her entire personality revolves around the loss of her relationship with Jorge, and it is stretched over such a long graphic novel, Elena comes across as just the kind of pining ex-girlfriend everyone would want to avoid hanging out with.

It doesn’t help that Jorge’s reasons for disappearing are never made clear. Apparently, he’s done this before so is he just a flaky young man or is there something more sinister behind it? We will never know.

Seven Places Without You pages 68 and 69. Written and drawn by Juan Berrio. Published by Europe Comics. January 23, 2019. - Various panels showing a landscape of pale, grey greens, illustarting streets, trees, and a park with no dialogue

I like the art with its pastel shades and its pared back sketches, and it certainly works in the context of a romantic story, though I can’t see this style translating to other genres.

What I really didn’t like about Seven Places Without You was how generic the seven places of the title ended up being. I was expecting something much more profound than parents’ homes and coffee shops. This is probably one you would want to skip.

That’s all for now, folks. Come back next month to see what Izneo has in store for you!

Louis Skye
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