Sometimes the only cure for a bad mood is to embrace the gloom. Wear your dad’s old slippers, close the curtains, pour yourself a glass of scotch, tell your better half/roommate/cat/own reflexion to get lost and put your feet up while entering the cynical world of Blacksad, Batman and a bunch of ill-fated lawyers.
Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido – Blacksad
No black mood without Blacksad. The storyline is your typical film noir: set in late 1950s America, it follows the trail of private detective John Blacksad, former street urchin and disillusioned WWII veteran, as he tries to solve murders, thefts and mysterious disappearances across a country ripped to pieces by social inequality, economical depression, racism and political instabilities.
Spicy detail: all characters are animals, revealing chards of their personalities. Blacksad himself is a black cat with a telling white snout, nearly all policemen are dogs such as bloodhounds and German shepherds and the underworld is inhabited by a crawling population of reptiles. Despite these clichés, you keep encountering surprising characters, such as a racist parrot, a poetic bison, a mob boss turtle, a philantropic ram, a rock star cockerel and a voodoo witch monkey.
However dark it may get, the strip is surprisingly colorful, consisting of detailed watercolor drawings you can stare at for hours. And realistic too, despite the antropomorphic dimension. Another surprising thing: as you indulge in your bad mood, following in the footsteps of an equally bad-tempered black cat, you’ll actually start discovering all the hidden humor in the strip ànd may even burst into laughter –although of course you’ll never admit it- halfway through your read. And just like that, once your scotch is emptied and another one of John Blacksad’s cases is filed, you may even feel… dare I say it?… better. So get up, go apologize to your better half/roommate/cat/own reflection and try to imagine which animal you would be.
Enrico Marini – Batman, The Dark Prince Charming
Still gloomy? Let the Joker and his horrific smile have a try!
Ever since Batman first flew through Gotham City in 1939, legions of writers, film makers and artists have tried their hand at rewriting his story. Erico Marini is the first European strip author to do so and I like what he did.
Only opening a small window into the life and adventures of the dark knight, he skips the origins and big storylines and instead focuses on an unsettling event for Bruce Wayne: a former lover suddenly shows up at his doorstep, claiming he fathered her peculiar daughter Alina. The fact that Catwoman is lying naked in his bed upstairs is not making it any less awkward, nor the threat of the Joker, who seems to be on to something when it comes to Batman’s true identity. When the world’s biggest psychopath kidnaps Alina, all hell breaks loose and Wayne sets about a murderous spree through Gotham trying to save her life ànd to find out who she really is to him –loosing every sense of morality and restraint along the way. On top of the overall violence, masterfully drawn in sepia sketches, the Joker is merrily celebrating his lover Harley Quinn’s birthday throughout the story, which brings its own dose of very colorful savagery to the pages.
This two-part Batman story breaks away from both the cape et épée genre of Le Scorpion, Marini’s best known brainchild, and his historic Aigles de Rome saga. Yet its harsh realism is perfect to awaken your senses on a particularly dull afternoon. Why. So. Serious?!?!
Richard Malka & Paul Gillon – l’Ordre de Ciceron
This tale of love, hate and deceit -but above all, of law nerds battling other law nerds- is bizarrely soothing for someone who grew up in a family of lawyers and spent many a family dinner discussing unique legal cases (-such as the one about the escaped mental patient who accidentally set fire to a mill, and the heated debate on who should be held accountable for this. Gotta love your family…)
Anyway, l’Ordre de Ciceron starts as Parisian lawyer Benjamin de Veyrac, in the midst of a hostile takeover by the American giant Steiner-Mac Rae, suddenly finds himself charged with money laundering for the Ukrainian mob. To prove his innocence, he is compelled to dive into his’ and the Steiner family’s dark pasts, which propels him right into 1940s occupied Paris and the deportation of an entire Jewish dynasty of lawyers. You’ll soon discover that nothing is what it seems, amidst all the social injustice of both bygone and present times. A surprisingly exciting read!