Goddamn This War! (2013)

Goddamn This War! is not a traditional graphic novel. Instead, Jacques Tardi uses it as an illustrated novella, recounting a French World War I veteran’s experiences chronologically. Sometimes there are little stories–most of the pages have three wide panels top to bottom (with occasional exceptions)–and sometimes there’s carryover between them, but more often not. Sometimes the carryover is how Tardi juxtaposes panels on facing pages. This book is really well thought out. Most of War is relentless. From the first page, since the narrator is speaking from after the war, there’s no humor. Tardi doesn’t even allow for sarcastic wit, … Continue reading Goddamn This War! (2013)

New York Mon Amour (2008)

New York Mon Amour is an interesting love letter to eighties New York City. It’s both realistic and fanciful. Jacques Tardi–who only actually writes one of the four stories in Mon Amour–varies his style depending on the story’s tone. The first story, “Cockroach Killer,” written by Benjamin Legrand, is hyper-realistic. The story features a lot of hallucinations and incredible imagery, but Tardi’s New York is better than a photograph. There’s a fumetti postscript and one has to wonder if the photographs were some of Tardi’s reference materials. It’s a great story, full of modern urban intrigue, but also a lot … Continue reading New York Mon Amour (2008)

The Eiffel Tower Demon (1976)

When Tardi opens The Eiffel Tower Demon with a recap of the first Adèle Blanc-Sec episode, I should have known he was going to be incredibly complicated again. It was just so nice to understand exactly what had happened, without all the MacGuffin. But Eiffel Tower eventually reveals that previous story was basically all just MacGuffin for this story. I don’t know if Tardi will be able to keep up the continual unravelling in subsequent episodes; Eiffel Tower has a relatively final ending… with epilogues for some of the supporting cast Tardi would have to revise. This story does reveal … Continue reading The Eiffel Tower Demon (1976)

Pterror Over Paris (1976)

Tardi’s approach, in terms of narrative and plotting, to Pterror Over Paris is surprising. For the entire first act, the reader is left without the expected protagonist. Adèle Blanc-Sec doesn’t initially figure into the story of a newly born pterodactyl terrorizing Paris. The majority of the first act is newspaper reports and small scenes of the dinosaur’s adventures. When it first appears, on the second page, it’s kind of cute (Tardi doesn’t do cute often here and it’s subtle), but it soon turns into a vicious killing machine. A young museum employee basically becomes the protagonist for the first half, … Continue reading Pterror Over Paris (1976)

The Arctic Marauder (1974)

It’s hard to know what to expect from The Arctic Marauder. It opens in the late nineteenth century. Tardi gradually establishes the protagonist–one Jérôme Plumier–who is conveniently on a ship traveling through the Arctic Ocean. The ship discovers a startling shipwreck (on an iceberg) and Plumier is part of the investigating boarding party. Now, it did not occur to me Plumier’s presence was contrived until now, sitting after reading Marauder and trying to explain it. Tardi is wholly convincing in ignoring the contrivance of it. Plumier was the only passenger who the story might involve, making his survival essential for … Continue reading The Arctic Marauder (1974)

120, rue de la Gare (1988)

120, rue de la Gare has enough story for three full narratives. Jacques Tardi is adapting a novel–Leo Malet’s 1943 debut–and it’s unclear how much came from the source material and how much Tardi included because of the setting. As a comic, 120 is historical detective fiction. But when Malet published it… the novel was just a detective novel. One assumes Tardi added a lot of historical details, but also a decidedly negative look at his protagonist. 120‘s hero, private detective Nestor Burma, is rude with his friends and frequently gives expository monologues in public. The people around him watch … Continue reading 120, rue de la Gare (1988)

It Was the War of the Trenches (1982-93)

Tardi jumps around quite a bit in It Was the War of the Trenches, but does follow a general sort of narrative progression. Though the stories–it was originally serialized, with some delay, in anthologies–all feature their own characters and situations, they move forward in time. Even when Tardi resets at one point, the subsequent vignettes resume that progression. The book ends with armistice. To say the book is anti-war is something of an absurd understatement. It’s impossible to imagine a pro-war approach to the first World War, but here Tardi does find some–inspiring poetry and songs from 1915, juxtaposed against … Continue reading It Was the War of the Trenches (1982-93)