cover image Peplum


Blutch, trans from the French by Edward Gauvin. New York Review Comics, $24.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-59017-983-3

Blutch (aka Christian Hincker) is a revered cartoonist in France, but this is only the second of his books to be translated into English. Considered one of his masterworks, it’s a rough continuation of The Satyricon, with Blutch’s own feverish story line providing the counterpoint. Roman Publius Cimber finds the statue of a woman in a cave, and madness and obsession follow—accompanied by faux-Shakespearian dialogue, finely captured by Gauvin’s translation. Blutch’s art is truly exquisite, rendering battles, orgies, and conversations in dense, inky lines akin to Mattotti, but completely his own and completely haunting. The storytelling likewise consists of simple grids of panels. Despite all this clarity, the story is elusive and disjointed, as men, beasts, and monsters all stand in the way of Cimber’s quest for love. The book requires rereading to grasp the scope of storytelling and linework, which is effortless enough to make the greatest American cartoonists jealous. (Apr.)