West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 56 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover
After a small gap, we are back with one more CineBook issue review, which was part of the batch release in India, last year. CineBook are the only UK publishing company which has proved their stature competing against the overall odds of DC & Marvel influx, by banking on the famed Franco-Belgian era. So there is no wonder their fleet of issues finds it presence more often on our website.
The title to be reviewed in this post is Green Manor, which is part of the “Double Expresso” series from CineBook. Double Expresso, essentially means that it may be a volume of one or two editions, which are originally published in French or other language. The plot revolves around a little known fictional English club called Green Manor, where the story unfolds revealing the secrets behind the thick walls, in the process enlightening the readers of the the greatest con artists Queen Victoria’s England has ever seen.
|Green Manor 1: Assassins and Gentlemen |
|Green Manor 1: BackCover |
Published: May 2008
Green Manor is a brainchild of French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann (b.1972, France). Vehlmann like typical kids, is said to have been fascinated with toys and comics from his childhood. But at the age of 23, he suddenly realized that the childhood love is still not lost in him. He jokingly quotes
“My parents were subscribers of Spirou for years. Leafing an issue, I discovered a contest for writers. Like all budding writers, I first wanted to draw, before realizing that it is one of those which I ridicule better.”
Even though, he ultimately didn’t take part in that contest, it paved the way for shaping his interest. He eventually joined the Spirou Magazine in 1997, and started contributing with various short stories, including writing one adventure for Spirou and Fantasio, a series which was reviewed here at Comicology earlier. Fascinated by his works, Yvan Delporte, who was the Editor-in-Chief of Spirou magazine during the golden age of Franco-Belgian comics, once credited Vehlmann as the "The René Goscinny of the third millennium". Comicologists would recollect Goscinny from his legendary works on Asterix, and Lucky Luke.
While at Spirou, he got his first official break in a full series, when he joined hands with artist Denis Bodart (b.1962, Belgium), to create the Green Manor series. While Vehlmann is known for his intriguing plots, and mystery woven writing style, Denis Bodart is known for his toon-style artwork, while not compromising the seriousness related to the base plot. Refer the Sample Artwork below, to see for yourself. With this distinction, we could safely term Green Manor as a “Comics” Graphic Novel, for the fact that the Toon-styled comic artwork is used to depict a plot-work aimed for mature audience.
n an interview with Character Design, Bodart quotes about the difficulty associated with the artwork of Green Manor, which is typically a series of stories all spanning 7 pages each, as follows:
“I am most proud of the character designs I did for all the characters in the three volumes of Green Manor. The main difficulty resided in the very form of the série ( 16 short stories of 7 pages). In this framework, giving enough consistency to the characters so they get credible since the very first boxes was a real challenge… especially when you known that none would live more than 7 pages. A constraint that generates much frustration as you can easily guess. In the other hand, it also allowed me to explore several graphic possibilities.”
If you are interested to read the complete interview click here.
The 1st volume of Green Manor: Assassins and Gentleman contains 7 short stories, which are narrated as if they were told by a psychotic prisoner, who was an inmate at Green Manor, to a visiting doctor. This gives us a first-hand accounting of the events as they occur, which reveals the blackness lurking in the minds of people rated as the top cream of Victoria’s England.
Despite the subject matter, Green Manor is murder-lite; all the killings are offstage, and there is little gore as witnessed in the stories. But that's not all, the ending strongly suggests that Green Manor is all inside the patient’s head, which puts a different spin on all the stories you have read so far.
This English translation for this French album has been done by Elaine Kemp for CineBook. The translator has taken enough care in maintaining the core storyline to retain its context. The Original French album was released back in 2001 by publishers Dupius titled “Assassins et gentlemen”. Look at the cover art of the original edition, which shows how much rework it has gone through before finding its place as part of the CineBook stable.
CineBook’s professionalism on display.
The duo of Vehlmann & Bodart have totally worked on 3 albums of Green Manor, which all have been released by CineBook in US/UK. With the reception it has garnered with Volume 1, they would be a collectors item, when Volume 2 and 3 finally makes their way to India.