ON THE ODD HOURS
Written and Illustrated by Eric Liberge
Published by NBM
Reviewed by Avril Brown
ON THE ODD HOURS is the third book in a series of graphic novels which are co-published by the Louvre Museum, and it is a veritable feast for the eyes. Every single page is visually tantalizing and the representations of the ageless works inhabiting the Louvre are drawn with obvious love and reverence. To open this book is to step inside the Louvre and its essence of artistic excellence.
The ‘graphic’ portion of this novel exceeds expectations and the story is an interesting and unique take on the art world, though the plot is unfortunately marred by the presence of an unlikable main character. Bastien is a deaf-mute who entered the Louvre to meet with a man about an internship, but the man he meets and the job he lands are both far different than he was expecting. Fu Zhi Ha is a night guard at the museum who sees a talent inside Bastien to mimic his own rather exceptional task, namely to soothe the souls of the artwork through ancient musical interpretation and a connection with the pieces.
In terms of story lines, this is could be an inspiring tale of how supposed disadvantages can become windows into unexpected worlds. Bastien, however, never seems to prove his worthiness of such opportunities. He consistently asks for trust from those around him but rarely does anything to earn that trust. He hits his girlfriend rather than simply turning his back on her controlling tendencies, he continually takes advantage of his only friend, and he manipulates his boss to where he has no other choice but to trust Bastien for the sake of the sanity of the artwork and its patrons. Fu Zhi Ha, on the other hand, was a character with a richness and history worth telling, and I longed to hear more about this eclectic little Asian arts lover.
Despite a disappointing protagonist, ON THE ODD HOURS remains a book worth delving into. Liberge’s amazingly artistic hand does an extraordinary job of capturing the pieces in the Louvre, thus giving readers a pocket-sized collection of world renowned works. By tapping into the spirit of the pieces, ON THE ODD HOURS delivers an unforgettable visual tour of one of the worlds greatest museums.