So yesterday, my friends and I visited the Musée de la bande dessinée, put simply, a comic book museum.
Those of you who know me will know that over the past year I have slowly but surely been getting into reading comic books and graphic novels.
Spurred on be the recent influx of comic book films (your Batmans, Avengers and so on, as well as the likes of Sin City) my comic book readings started with some of the classics of the genre, the likes of Watchmen, as well as some of the more well known Marvel and DC titles, such as Batman: Year One.
So a sunny day in Angouleme saw the twelve of us descending the town’s hill side, down a slightly treacherous path leading to the town’s Paper and Comic book museums. Fortunately, for at least some of the members of our group, the paper museum was shut for lunch, meaning that at least for the day, we missed out on the exciting world of paper manufacturing.
Thankfully the comic book museum remained open and, for the reasonable price of €7 each, we spent an hour or two exploring a pretty awesome museum, which, as you might have guessed, I really rather enjoyed!
The museum started with an exhibit on the Moomin, a comic and TV show I remembered from my youth. I won’t lie to you, the Moomin used to freak me out! However, it was interesting looking at the exhibit, and translating what I could from the French descriptions.
The main area of the museum was a more detailed look at the history of comic books, listing the likes of Mad Magazine, Tin Tin, and of course, given that Angouleme is its birth place, the Asterix comics.
This section was right up my street, and it was even better given that there were cards with English descriptions, rather than French. One section even impressed me so much that, later that evening, I visited Amazon.com and purchased a copy of Maus, a graphic novel based on the Nazi concentration camps, with Cats playing the Nazis, and Mice playing the Jews.
On the whole, the trip to Anglouleme, and the comic museum, will probably go down as one of my favourite days of the trip, and inspired me to pick up the Graphic novel I brought with me to France, The Couriers.
The story depicts the near-future world of New York City where two gun toting couriers deliver questionable goods by questionable means. Very heavily influenced by the Hong Kong style of cinema and Japanese manga style comics, The Couriers is an action driven graphic novel that returns the artform of comic books to its pulp/action oriented stories, albeit with an updated modern feel.
I pretty much devoured the relatively thick graphic novel, which has four stories from The Couriers time line: The Couriers, Dirtbike Manifesto, The Ballard of Johnny Funwrecker, and Couscous Express.
Ballard was probably my favourite of the four, showing the origins of the two protagonists and showing how an origin story can be done correctly, adding insight to characters you already know, and filling in a couple of blanks in the their histories.
The Couriers is a book I highly recommend. It has a unique art style that, at first, I feared I wouldn’t enjoy, (I tend to stay away from monochrome in favour of a more colourful palette) yet I found myself drawn in to the hustle and bustle of the New York streets, and the action sequences certainly weren’t dampened for want of colour.
The Couriers is a great example of how comic books and graphic novels can thrive, away from the overshadowing Marvel and DC universes. In this case, Image is the publisher, and The Couriers is another reason why they are fast becoming my favourite.
Spurred on by our trip the museum, I intend to blog about/review more comics and graphic novels as soon as I get my hands on them. In fact, if all goes to plan, there will be a list in the side bar of things you can expect to see reviewed very soon.
So, I will sign off this half diary post, half review, and leave you with encouragement to read more, and go to more museums!