Written and Drawn by Christian Durieux and Etienne Davodeau
Published by NBM
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Let’s talk about the good stuff. I mean the really good stuff.
Two new graphic novels from my old employer, NBM Publishing, recently crossed my desk, and not only are they two of the best books I’ve seen from the company in a long time, they are also two of the best books of the year so far.
First up is AN ENCHANTMENT by Christian Durieaux. This is the latest in the series of graphic novels commissioned by the Louvre, and it might be the best one yet. Here we meet the director of the famed museum, as he faces the night of his retirement party. But unwilling to go gently into that good night, he finds himself distracted by a young woman who has evaded security and has made her way into the dark corners of the building. As they tour the place, two conflicting ideas arise in the reader: the young woman is truly a living muse and is giving lift to the breaking heart of this man OR she does not exist, and he is experiencing a delusion as his life concludes on this final night of work. Whatever interpretation you ultimately subscribe to, it is a magnificent piece of work. The art is lovely, the characters and dialogue are rich, and the book sweeps you up and carries you along with its verve. Each entry in the Louvre series has been unique, and has challenged its readers as a work of art should. This one stands above the others in its power to engage.
As someone with a degree in creative non-fiction, and someone who writes that form, I regard those that do immersion journalism well with tremendous respect. The commitment required is extraordinary. So when I tell you that Etienne Davodeau’s THE INITIATES is one of the finest examples of immersion journalism in recent memory, I mean that with all due gravity. Davideau had a brilliant idea: immerse himself in the life of a winemaker friend, Richard Leroy, and in turn, have Richard learn the life of a working comics artist. For a year, Etienne would work the vineyard, studying the art of growing the grapes, fermenting the wine, learning about soil composition, and more. In that time, he began supplying Richard with graphic novels to read and taking him on trips to comic conventions, introducing him to the top artists working in the field today. To say that each man gets an extraordinary education would be an understatement. Honest, educational, entertaining, and pricelessly unique, THE INITIATES is a book that sticks with you long after you put it down. The intelligent reader knows that real life can be just as captivating as fiction, if not more, and this book is a brilliant example of that. An amazing piece of work.