From the stack: Glacial Period

I knew if I put together any kind of year-end list prior to January 1, some publisher would drop one more book that should be on it. Sure enough, NBM released Nicolas De Crécy’s Glacial Period on Thursday, proving that the year isn’t over until the fat, genetically modified dog sings.

It’s the first of four books produced in cooperation with the Louvre, inviting comics artists to offer their interpretations of the great institution. De Crécy looks backwards, setting his story far into the future when Europe has been buried under ice and snow. A group of archeologists are tracking down rumors of a great fortress and stumble across the museum.

They’re a group straight out of central casting – the macho adventurer, the heiress, the bookworm, and the hapless assistant – but De Crécy is playful enough to toy with reader expectations of their roles. Familiarity gives way as you see them interact with each other and react to their discovery.

And they aren’t essential to begin with. The real hero is Hulk, the genetically modified dog mentioned earlier. Bespectacled and articulate, the chunky hound can smell history like some of his ancestors could detect truffles. He bristles a bit at the foibles and insensitivities of his human companions, but he’s largely resigned to them. He knows the expedition would be doomed to failure without him.

Glacial Period has something of the rambling quirkiness of Tove Jansson’s Moomin (Drawn & Quarterly). The discovery of the Louvre is fodder for amusing philosophical detours, with the explorers wondering if its creators were literate or merely pictographic in their communication. (Imagine the scholars who found the Lascaux cave paintings evaluating Delacroix and Monet in the same terms.) One arranges the portraits in what he believes is a pictorial history of the culture’s inception, peak, and decline. And De Crécy also extrapolates beyond how the viewer sees art to give equal time, letting the art get its own word in on its audience.

It’s good, imaginative fun, and it’s beautifully rendered. From the stark landscapes of the early pages to the packed imagery of later passages, De Crécy balances composition and detail wonderfully. The palette of soft pastels, moving from cool to warm, is gorgeously applied.

I had some initial reservations about the book’s price — $14.95 for 80 pages – but those faded in the face of the book itself. It’s beautifully produced and carefully annotated; I wouldn’t call it a bargain, but it’s worth it.

Glacial Period is a delightfully imaginative, even loopy look at art. I hope NBM publishes the rest of the graphic novels created through the initiative.

(A preview of the book is available at NBM’s web site. There’s also an article [in French] on the book’s debut at the Louvre at Actua BD, found via The Comics Reporter.)

8 Responses to From the stack: Glacial Period

  1. ChunHyang72 says:

    Looks like I’m going to have to add “Glacial Period” and the “Treasury of Victorian Murder” to my must-read list, alongside “Sexy Voice and Robo.” I’m a sucker for any series with an intelligent dog protagonist.

  2. davidpwelsh says:

    Oh, I’m such a fan of Rick Geary’s books that I wouldn’t even know which Treasury installment to recommend first. Maybe “The Fatal Bullet” about the Lincoln assassination, but they’re all good.

  3. […] David Welsh reviews Nicolas De Crécy’s Glacial Period. […]

  4. […] and I can use it as an opportunity to mention Nicolas De Crécy’s superb Glacial Period (NBM) again. I generally agree that sell-out announcements aren’t really news, but I’m going to side with […]

  5. […] In case you missed it the first time, NBM offers you another crack at Nicolas DeCrécy’s Glacial Period. I’ve run out of ways to summarize how unique and entertaining this book is, so I’ll just point you to this old review. […]

  6. […] PeriodNicolas De Crécy’s Glacial Period came out just in time to make it onto my list of favorite comics from 2006: “I had some initial […]

  7. […] been translating a series of graphic novels created in conjunction with the Louvre museum in Paris. I loved the first, Nicolas De Crécy’s Glacial Period, and thought the second, Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s The Museum […]

  8. […] the Louvre got me thinking about their first in this series, Nicolas de Crécy’s Glacial Period, which is wonderful. So for this week’s license request, I’d like to take a break from Japan and head back to […]

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