I think I’ve actually come across a book that earns the title Graphic Novel. The vast majority of graphic novels I read are simply the fun, super hero types that, in my mind, are simply bound comics (I realize this distinction may make no sense to anyone else, but it works for me). However, Werewolves of Montpellier, by Jason, feels like a graphic novel. It is a story of a likable, if not exactly confident or industrious, expatriate living in a French city and trying to figure out his life, love, etc… I’ve flipped through others of this type that work to be serious, Maus comes to mind, and Persepolis, but what separates this work from the others is that it is completely charming and not so overly serious as to drown the story or emotion out of the work.
The art is simple and telling. Often the silence, the lack of a caption, says more than any words could. There are a couple scenes where the characters are either looking at each other, or sitting in such tense silence, that the panels really grab you. One scene in particular made me laugh at the reality and absurdity of it, and another, on the last page, was packed with unspoken conversation. As far as actual conversation, some of the dialogue exchanges are really, really good. I would quote them here, but I don’t want to ruin it.
In the end, however, it is the plight, sincerity, and charm of the main character that make this work. I immediately read another of Jason’s other works, The Last Musketeer, and, while I enjoyed it, it didn’t have that special something to make it memorable. That’s when I realized that it was the main character I identified with, and it was that same character that made this book so fun for me. I’m actually having a hard time turning it back in, but that would be a bad librarian thing to do, and I will turn it back in today, or tomorrow…
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