Salvatore: Vol. 1: Transports Of Love by Nicolas De Crécy (graphic novel).

January 3, 2014 | By | Reply More

Having thoroughly enjoyed Nicolas De Crécy’s earlier graphic novel ‘Glacial Period’, I was glad to get the chance to review ‘Salvatore: Vol. 1: Transports Of Love’. But to be completely honest, after working through the first few pages, I got rather bored by it and it was months before I made a second attempt at finishing the thing.

SalvatoreTransportsOfLoveGN

That was a surprise, because in many ways this book shares many of the same traits as ‘Glacial Period’, including sophisticated humour, classy artwork and a timeless, even surrealistic storyline that involves anthropomorphic animals touring France in motor cars. But where ‘Glacial Period’ moved along quickly and smoothly, thanks to the universality of art, ‘Salvatore’ is a more difficult read that seems to depend much more on the reader sharing or at least understanding the French sense of humour.

For example, one of the plotlines of the book involves the recovery of a certain spare part from a rare vintage Bentley. The protagonist, a mechanical called Salvatore, reports from his researches that one of these cars is in Kabul where it is being used by the ‘American Army’ as a ‘flagship of the modernity and elegance of Western democracy.’ The joke here is two-fold, a 1932 motor car being anything but modern even in Afghanistan and in the accompanying artwork, this car’s elegance looks completely out of place surrounded by burka-covered women and mediaeval-looking buildings. Couple this with the US Army paint-job and the author’s criticism of American foreign policy would seem to accord well with French public opinion, making the joke even funnier to a French audience than, say, an American one.

On the other hand, De Crécy is nothing if not inventive. The second of the two main plotlines involves an apparently blind mother pig, who’s lost one of her piglets after a hair-raising accident that sent her car flying off a cliff onto the back of a passing airliner and finally plonked her down onto the roof of a Parisian townhouse. The lost piglet eventually ends up in the arms of a poor little rich kid Goth cat who cares for him, while the mother’s continuing search becomes one part of the cliff-hanger ending that finishes the book.

Another unusual aspect is the role humans play in De Crécy’s world of anthropomorphised animals. Instead of being left out altogether, as is often the case in such fantasy worlds, the only human character in the book seems to play the role of a pet, albeit one intelligent enough to wear clothes and use the Internet. It’s a scaled-down human being though, even smaller than Salvatore, who’s meant to be a small, terrier-like dog of some sort, easily outsized by ‘German Shepherds covered in fur and bulging muscles’.

In short, De Crécy is significant cartooning talent and for that reason alone comicbook enthusiasts may well find ‘Salvatore’ enjoyable even if some of the jokes don’t appeal. While the humour is sometimes pointed, it’s more often rather broad, if sophisticated, including such gems as a fat pig working at a slaughterhouse being ‘the first to be slaughtered, a victim of downsizing’. So while I didn’t get through the book on the first pass, second time around I enjoyed it rather more, particularly the artwork, and flipping through it a third time while writing this review, enjoyed it even more.

Neale Monks

December 2013

(pub: NBM Publishing. 96 page graphic novel small enlarged paperback. Price £10.99 (UK), $14.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-56163-593-1)

check out websites: http://www.nbmpublishing.com/ and www.turnaround-uk.com

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Category: Comics

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