Review: Grandville By Bryan Talbot

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When I was an adolescent, I had a guilty secret. Eighty Days Around The World With Willy Fog, a Spanish cartoon taking the seminal Jules Verne novel and anthromorphing it up. And I loved it, even if the title sequence was spoileriffic to the max. Most Brits of my age can sing along to “Fog, I’m the one who made the bet and I know we’ll be exactly right on tiiiime. Fog is my name and I can play with my life in many ways that’s what they saaaayyy..”

Of course they followed it up in the second season by taking the cast of Eighty Days and inserting them into the books Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea which someone been schmooshed together – and had the titles to match. But by then I’d moved onto Akira.

grandville-preview-page31Well Grandville brought me back, smashing me to the ground. Set in a Steampunk Victoriana Anthropormorphic Rupert The Bear World, where humans are Tintin-like hairless chimpanzees, and everything else is a humanoid with an animal head, and skin/hair to match. JJ Grandville was actually a cartoonist of this era who used to draw images like this for political or comic effect. Bryan Talbot used it to create a kind of Sherlock Holmes/Sexton Blake/James Bond action adventure.

I love this comic. It’s big, bold, brash, insanely detailed and has badgers torturing frogs. There are steam powered carriages and robots, gratuitous violence, big explosions, lots of kicking, a decvent ending and Inspector Brock finding a long, long way from Wind In the Willows.

It can be appreciated on so many levels and with so many potential fanbases basically performing bukkake upon the pages, it should appeal to a lot of people. even those who have a problem with a talking snobby French fish butler with legs.

Also, don’t try to work out the evolutionary timelines. It will just mess with your head. But do enjoy.

Grandville is published by Jonathan Cape.