Welcome to the June 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
Izneo has all six volumes of Jeremiah by Hermann available to read right now. Each volume can be purchased for CAD $10.49 each. Don’t miss this ghoulish mystery.
The whole Distant Worlds series is also available on Izneo for a very limited time—until June 9—and on a special discount! Get all five volumes for just CAD $2.99, or buy each volume separately for $3.69.
The first complete volume of Stranger Things: The Other Side by Jody Houser is available on Izneo for CAD $7.49. Enjoy following Will Byers adventures following his return from the Upside Down.
Mini-Reviews: Loved It!
Cromatik Ltd (Letters), Arthur De Pins (Writer and Artist)
Dupuis (French, 2010), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
If you don’t think monsters are real, you’re about to change your mind. The amusement park Zombillenium sees handfuls of people visiting for a good laugh, but those skeletons, zombies, witches, werewolves, and vampires they see are all real. And they’re forever trapped as park workers. Until one mummy gets tired of it all and inadvertently causes the creation of a new and terrifying creature. One that could save the park. Or doom it.
This is so much fun! It’s like an office setting, but with monsters. The creatures all gripe about their long hours, worry about getting laid off, and managers who play favourites. There are board meetings where people share their fears about the park being shut down or downsized. Except it’s all colourful and wild and has everyone’s favourite monsters in it. What’s not to love?
Through Lya’s Eyes: Seeking the Truth
Carbone (Writer), Cromatik Ltd (Letters), Justine Cunha (Artist and Colours), MB Valente (Translation)
Dupuis (French, 2019), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
Lya Breton is starting her internship at a prestigious law firm. But little do the owners of the firm know her real reason for being there: years ago, Lya was left for dead in a hit-and-run. She survived, but was paralyzed. Her parents never followed through with the lawsuit because someone bought them off. Who was it? Lya must get to the bottom of this mystery, but she’s not going to be able to do it alone.
I love a mystery/heist story and this book has elements of both. Lya is a courageous and determined protagonist, who is an unstoppable force, but also someone who recognises when she needs help. Her friends, Antoine and Adèle, are just as brave as Lya, which is good to see. One-man armies can be so dull. And that cliff-hanger! It’s going to be agony waiting for the next installment.
The art is very cartoonish, but I can’t help but love it because it works so well with this story. There’s also a range of facial types and expressions that can be accomplished with it that I couldn’t help but fall in love with on every page.
States of Mind
Emilie Guillon (Writer), Patrice Guillon (Writer), Montana Kane (translation), Sebastien Samson (Artist)
Humanoids (English, 2019)
Camille is a law student in a long-distance relationship who thinks her panic attacks are caused by her being stressed about her studies and pressure from her boyfriend. But when she can no longer bear to live anymore, she and her family realise that there is something very wrong. Camille then goes from one medical centre to another, but every time she is released, she lapses into depression. How will she live a normal life?
This book is a very hard read. The simple black and white illustrations might make you think it’s a light book, but it is anything but. Camille’s journey to finding the right help she needs is harrowing, terrifying, but eventually inspiring. This is a personal story that will resonate with so many people. It is also the kind of book I would give to anyone looking to be educated about mental illness. But be cautious reading it, because the depictions of some acts are graphic even in the cartoonish black and white.
The Master Chocolatier—The Boutique
Chetville (Artist), Eric Corbeyran (Writer), Cromatik Ltd (Letters), Bénédicte Gourdon (Writer), Montana Kane (Translation), Mikl (Colours)
Dargaud-Lombard (French, 2019), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
Alexis Carret works hard as a chocolatier, but all the fame and glory goes to the owner of Perdeaux. Alexis and his colleagues are invisible. But when Perdeaux fires a deaf intern for no reason, Alexis hangs up his apron. Now, he has nothing to do and no way to bring his love of chocolate to life. Fortunately for Alexis, his childhood friend and saviour Clémence steps in. Her new friend, Ben, has a plan for Alexis to start his own shop. But can they trust Ben?
A story about chocolate and mob bosses was always going to be a favourite, but it’s the passionate handling of Alexis’ love of chocolate that made me enjoy this story so much. The creators’ intense research into the taste and art of chocolate comes through on every page. How could I resist?
The art is as decadent as the chocolate described in the text. It’s rich, it’s detailed, it’s got that old-school comic charm that screams lusciousness. Every page is beautiful. I want to read so much more.
Mini-Reviews: Meh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Bugle Boy
Alexandre Clérisse (Writer and Artist), Cromatik Ltd (Letters), Edward Gauvin (Translation)
Dargaud (French, 2009), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
Marcel is 85. He lives alone, except for sporadic visits from his hippie granddaughter. As Marcel navigates old age and the disdain of those around him, he remembers his time during the Second World War when he had to leave behind his beloved bugle. Now, with some help from his granddaughter, Marcel sets out to find the bugle once and for all.
This is a strange little story. Marcel doesn’t fit into the world, nor does he seem to be interested in doing so. He does as he pleases, says what he wants, with little regard to those around him. He talks about the War like it was yesterday, constantly chastising young people about how fortunate they are not to have experienced such horror, while at the same time berating them for their lack of patriotic fervour. As a protagonist, Marcel isn’t always likable, but he is believable.
Though it is laid out as an adventure story, this book is more of a character study of Marcel. Knowing the writer based the tale on his actual grandfather makes it a bit more appealing. But at the end of the day, the story comes across a little like Nebraska in France. It’s not bad, it’s just not memorable.
The art is adorable though—like paper cut-outs against a three-dimensional background. I found myself enjoying all the inconspicuous details that built up Marcel’s world and ramped up the awkwardness of a man out of sync with his surroundings. Have a read, if you like.
Alexandre Carpentier (Colours), Cinebook Ltd (Translation), Design Amorandi (Letters) Jerome Saincantin (Translation), Christophe Simon (Artist), Jean Van Hamme (Writer)
Dargaud-Lombard (French, 2018), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
Kivu is ravaged, both from within and without, as multinationals and mercenaries plunder its resources, its people, and its heritage to fill their own coffers. Corruption and brutality are par for the course, but when two children take matters into their own hands, they inadvertently set into motion events that could change the course of area.
I was in two minds about how to feel about this book. The art is gorgeous, and Christophe Simon’s style is exactly the kind that I absolutely adore. His characters are lifelike with fluid expressions and personalities that come through vividly. It makes the world of the story so real.
Kivu explains in almost unbearably graphic detail what is happening in the region and why. For those who know very little about the area and who so easily dismiss Africa the third world, this book is eye-opening about how complicit the West is with regards to those matters.
But the book falls into the trope of only presenting a white Western point of view. The protagonist of this story is Francois Daans, a Belgian sent by a multinational company to Kivu, who realises that his company and his job are helping to make things in Kivu worse. This makes him an excellent audience stand-in, but we are once again seeing Africa through the eyes of a white man. Worse, it eventually ends up being a white saviour story, and we really don’t need those.
I would still urge people to read the book, however, because it is a good way to learn about what’s happening in Kivu. But find some scholarly articles by Kivu’s residents after.
Mini-Reviews: Ugh, no!
Zarathustra: The Lion that Carried the Flame
Cromatik Ltd (Letters), Montana Kane (Translation), Amad Mir (Artist), Richard Marazano (Writer)
Dargaud (French, 2018), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
In ancient Iran, a former soldier tries to start a new life as a shopkeeper in Gondo-Depe but merchant hierarchies and jealousy keep him down. When the city is attacked by an evil force, the soldier comes to the rescue of a fellow merchant. Little do they know that they are about to find themselves in the midst of a fight between gods.
I wanted to like this book, especially after seeing Richard Marazano at TCAF this year. But alas, the in-authenticity of a story about the Middle East being told by a white European suffuses this book. There is no context, no understanding, no passion for the region or the culture—only a blow by blow account of cause and affect, with a bit of action thrown in. And, of course, the exoticisation of Eastern women that somehow is still prevalent in the 21st century.
Anastasia: Part 1
Dymkołamacze (Letters), Joanna Karpowicz (Artist and Translation), Karolina Kaźmierczak (Translation), Magdalena Lankosz (Writer), Jarek Obważanek (Letters)
kultura gniewu (Polish, 2017), Europe Comics (English, 2019)
Anastasia’s mother is determined that she become a Hollywood star, and she will go to any lengths to achieve her dream, even if it means psychologically tormenting her child. But once Anastasia becomes Hollywood’s newest sensation, she finds herself adapting a little too well to the seedier underbelly.
Hollywood’s exploitation of women is top of mind, especially with the #MeToo campaign. But this story does little to add to what we know about how Hollywood operates. Do we need another story about women being degraded for the pleasure and success of men? We want something more—something that critiques and comments on it.
I like the art, which looks like watercolour on canvas, but the subject matter doesn’t give the artist much room to stretch her wings. I had really hoped for more with this story but I didn’t get it. A solid miss.