As part of our Valentine's season, please read on and discover a tale set in 1950s Paris
Writer: Andi Watson
Art: Simon Gane
Publisher: SLG publishing
What's it about?
Set in 1950s Paris, American art student Juliet is broke, living in a shared flat with bohemian Parisians, and studying at a prestigious art school. One day she is commissioned to paint a portrait of a young English woman named Deborah. Deborah is residing in Paris with her overbearing Aunt, who is also acting as Chaperone. They meet and a soft and gentle romance develops between the art lovers, unfortunately events conspire to keep them apart.
What's good about it?
This is a lovely gentle read with all the drama simmering below the surface. It's not loud, or brash, or demanding your attention like some of the more superhero orientated comics we review here. Instead, as you read this, you will be quietly sucked in, drawn into the world of Paris in the 1950s, full of artists and revolutionaries, and upper class English women bemoaning the state of foreign countries.
Andi Watson gives each character a distinct voice with distinct patterns of speech that portrays their background, personality and attitude to life in just a few short pages. He makes them believable and you end up hoping and praying that Juliet and Deborah will get through this ok. The French speakers are given French vocabulary which helps with the state of immersion that Juliet is experiencing, living in a strange country.
This isn't a book about the difficulties of being gay. It's not a coming out story and it's not about homophobia. The characters happen to be gay but their orientation isn't really important. What is important is their personalities, their loves and their desires in life. In addition to this, there are no sex scenes. It's not a tale about a torrid or steamy gay love affair (that review comes later in the week), instead it's all rather chaste and innocent.
What's bad about it?
Some people might find a lesbian love affair set in the 1950s that doesn't cover homophobia or the social consequences of being gay a bit difficult to believe. However as this isn't a political novel I find that a difficult criticism to swallow. Most scenes take place in the private sphere so the social climate and fears of what others may think isn't really relevant.
I have seen criticisms of the art, specifically that it can be considered a bit flat. Views on art, as in all things, is largely a personal thing. I however would not describe it as flat. I found parts of it quite emotive and other parts quite fluid and full of life. I think the artist does an excellent job of conveying the stiffness of upper class society at the time, as well as the comparative looseness of the French revolutionaries.
What's the art like?
My views on the art are largely detailed above, but to assist you to make up your own mind, have some scans: