Portrait of a Drunk

Fantagraphics. Apr. 2020. 184p. ISBN 9781683962892. $29.99. literary/fantasy
A bedraggled drifter named Guy awakens at the bottom of a stone staircase and sets off merrily busking and causing mischief until he comes across a well-dressed man he murders and robs. His victim awakens in a murky black void and watches as his killer sets sail as the carpenter aboard a ship commissioned to deliver an ambassador’s ailing bride to Jazira, a middle eastern kingdom. Collaborators Schrauwen (Parallel Lives), Jérôme Mulot and Florent Ruppert (both The Perineum Technique) create a roguish, ridiculous scoundrel in Guy, who carouses and drunkenly cavorts from one misadventure to the next, always at the expense of those he encounters. When his ship is attacked by pirates, Guy joins their crew. When the pirates arrive in Jazira and attempt to swindle the ambassador, Guy’s selfishness leads to bloody carnage. Meanwhile, his original victim finds himself joined in the afterlife by an increasing number of Guy’s victims; together, they begin to plot their vengeance. Gorgeous painted illustration and loosely sketched panels appear side by side, mimicking Guy’s booze-addled incoherence.
VERDICT An uncommonly vicious swashbuckling romp with a cruel protagonist, but absolutely entertaining and fantastically illustrated.
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