cover image Fraternity


Juan Díaz Canales and José-Luis Munuera, trans. from the French by Jeremy Melloul. Lion Forge, $19.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-941302-51-4

Canales (Blacksad) and Munuera (Spirou and Fantasio) blend 19th-century American utopian idealism with the preternatural eeriness of the frontier in this dark fantastical tale set in New Fraternity, Ind., a neutral “community experiment” trapped in the chronological and geographical middle of the Civil War. A cast of characters battle for political power and moral superiority: cruel and discontented Sawyer, pragmatist Josiah Walker, a deserting quartet of black Union soldiers, and the ferocious forest monster who has befriended feral child Emile and sympathetic Miss Fanny Zoetrope. The pointed parable of American exceptionalism is highlighted by a driving narrative, strong art, and dramatic turns. Colorist Sedyas contributes a subtle, muted palette of grays, blues, and earth tones, an approximation of soft natural light that’s especially effective when used in alternate panels on a single page, melting boundaries between the literal and figurative light of civilization versus nature. Although Canales’s allusion isn’t subtle—the evil that the brutal, driven Sawyer and his men claim has been brought into the colony by the monster in fact already exists in their hearts—it’s a fine allegory of grand intentions tempered by human weaknesses and prejudices. [em](Oct.) [/em]