Monday, June 18, 2018

In Defense of "Niourk"

I was reading some reviews of the French graphic novel newly translated into English "Niourk." They were unkind at best.

It didn't seem like the writers took into account the historical setting of the original novella---written by a Frenchman during the Cold War. Should that matter? Should you be versed on geo-political history of the setting of the time of a work's creation as a prerequisite? I haven't answered that well enough for myself, but because I did have that background, I knew what I was getting into.

And still I was surprised! It was an original tale, even with a little shark-jumping at the end. One of the female characters is scantily clad for a large portion, and this was taken as issue by one critic as well. All I can say to that is: 1) the French have less hangups on the nearly nude female form; and 2) the character is recovering from some crazy injury during the time of the mostly-naked scenes, and it isn't outside the realm of justifiable.

Anyway, the sweeping deep-time imagery would paper over an awful story, and this is far from awful. Look at this:

In four panels we travel through thousands, if not millions, of years. And that's in the very beginning.

Later we see Manhattan like we never see today:

And again:

I'm a sucker for images like the following, the arteries and veins of today turned into crumbled relics of a bygone era:

And seeing the East River as a meadow makes me smile:

And a sweeping image at the end of the story, a double page spread that would give away too much if you knew what to look for or what you were looking at:

And like I mentioned earlier: imagery like this would make up for some of the story deficiencies if those story problems were severe. The story here isn't the issue, at least not with this reader.

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