GRAPHIC NOVELS

Mitchum

NYRC. Apr. 2020. 232p. ISBN 9781681374444. pap. $24.95. Rated: Teen+. literary
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Iconography drawn from history and popular culture is twisted into a nightmarish vision of North American life in this wildly surreal and brazenly experimental new collection from French cartoonist Blutch (Total Jazz). The story “Hoboken” features a murder investigation, a lecherous Jimmy Stewart hiding inside a detective’s trench coat, a police officer storming a building dressed like Mechagodzilla, and a desperate battle against a malevolent apparition of Robert Mitchum. In “Ballet,” full-page illustrations of a woman dancing obscure what appears to be a cat and mouse battle between two women in the Wild West taking place in the panels behind her. In “Departure,” an anthropomorphic bear comes upon a masked figure worshipping the mummified remains of Steve McQueen, William Holden, and Charlton Heston while wandering through a subway tunnel. Blutch is a master at capturing mood and depicting bodies in motion, altering his illustrative technique as necessary to create a sense of dynamism with clean, swooping lines, or evoke dread with heavy crosshatching.
VERDICT While readers desiring a strong sense of narrative might not be impressed, Blutch successfully elicits a range of emotions through unforgettable illustrations in these stories, first published in French and available in English for the first time.

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