Portugal

Cyril Pedrosa, trans. from the French by Montana Kane. NBM, $39.99 (264p) ISBN 978-1-68112-147-5
A note for all blocked artists: when in doubt, uncover your roots in a foreign country. That’s the magic formula followed by Simon Muchat, the cartoonist beset by midlife ennui in this tour de force from Pedrosa (Equinoxes). A bestseller in his native France, Pedrosa’s semiautobiographical graphic novel unpacks a layered story of memory and identity, following Simon’s creative reawakening through the discovery of his family’s past. Things start accidentally for Simon: in a career slump, he attends a comics convention in Portugal. The country of his parents’ origins, only vaguely remembered from childhood visits, reignites his curiosity and drive. Back home, he discovers shards of family history at a raucous wedding party, enticing him to return to Portugal and extract more lore from distant cousins. The emotionally affecting journey hinges on the unique local characters, who immediately call Simon one of their own. Pedrosa’s loose, expansive writing style is perfectly complemented by his lush, lightly lined drawings, in which people and their stories overlap each other with discursive enthusiasm. Everybody has a lot to say in this graphic novel whose gorgeous art is as full as its story. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2018
Release date: 12/01/2017
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