Anybody else read this latest graphic novel from the creator of Luthor Arkwright? I bought a copy yesterday, and it's a lovely-looking piece of work!
It's set in a steampunk parallel universe, where France won the Napoleonic Wars, and is the dominant World power. The UK is a recently independent "small and unimportant country connected to the French Empire by the Channel Railway bridge." The story concerns Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard, journeying to Grandville (Paris,) the most important and largest City in the World, with his adjunct, Detective Roderick Ratzi, to investigate a mysterious murder. Oh yes, a couple of important details; LeBrock is a badger, and Ratzi is, er, a Rat.
The world of Grandville is populated by anthropormorphic animals - Talbot gives one of his inspirations as Rupert the Bear (the opening sequence even takes place in Nutwood, with Rupert's father visible mowing the lawn and trimming his hedge in a couple of frames!) His other named influences are the illustrations of Gerard and Robida, Conan Doyle and Quentin Tarantino, which looks about right to me when reading the book!
Interestingly, humans of a sort are present in this World too. Nicknamed "doughfaces", and treated as menial workers, they're explained as "a hairless breed of chimpanzee that evolved in Angouleme." Curiously, Talbot has drawn the first two doughfaces we see in ligne-claire style, and the one on the right has a very similar face to Tintin. On the next couple of pages, we also see a hotel bellboy who looks very much like the earliest version of Spirou!
We also meet a suspiciously familiar-looking terrier by the name of Snowy Milou, a witness to murder whom LeBrock traces to a seedy opium den. In his drug-induced stupor, Milou talks of strange dreams; "I was...somewhere warm... the Congo I think... I was on the Moon you know... with the doughface... there was a crab... with golden claws... and Captain... Captain... Havoc?"
As you might pick up from the above, this is definitely not one for the children. There's a certain amount of swearing, some fairly bloody violence, and badger sex (!) It looks absolutely stunning, with Talbot showing the same flair for carefully detailed steampunk that he pioneered with Arkwright, and the Gothic Empire storyline for Nemesis the Warlock. The book's presented in a large format similar to European BD albums, which is appropriate, as it's definitely got a distinct European feel to it, quite apart from the setting, and the gorgeous artwork would suffer if it was shrunk down to the standard size for US comic books.
Check out http://www.bryan-talbot.com/grandville/index.php
for more - nice to see that a sequel's in the works already!