cover image Farewell, Brindavoine

Farewell, Brindavoine

Tardi , trans. from the French by Jenna Allen. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-68396-433-9

Tardi’s early narrative experimentations from the 1970s, here packaged as a madcap graphic adventure tale, present a spectacular showcase for his visual storytelling, but are plagued by racist caricatures. The first section opens as a mysterious caller visits the dilettante Brindavoine in his cluttered Paris mansion just before WWI. Immediately evident are Tardi’s strengths as a cartoonist: the overstuffed rooms are packed with a bicycle, masks, artifacts, and an angry cat. The stranger presents Brindavoine with a mission, swiftly gets shot through the window, and dies—and Brindavoine’s off to Turkey to fulfill his visitor’s request. There, he meets the Liverpudlian Oswald Carpleasure, who’s constantly high. They drive across the desert, through a series of mishaps and attempts to kill them, to discover the Iron City, an awe-inspiringly surreal Xanadu-like structure built on stilts. Throughout, “ethnic” characters are stereotyped, such as Mongolian-looking hordes with caricatured buckteeth or a naked Black assassin drawn with simian characteristics. The second half marks a tonal shift, as war begins and a traumatized Brindavoine slogs through pits of rotting corpses. Though a fascinating artifact of Tardi’s first forays as a storyteller, the outdated representations make it difficult to enjoy his brilliant art. [em](June) [/em]