Green Manor by Fabien Vehlmann and Denis Bodart
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
One of the best discoveries I made at this year's BICS was the Cinebook publishing house. Cinebook is dedicated to repackaging and importing the finest comics from continental Europe. In 2008 alone, Cinebook introduced a dozen new series to the British audience - and judging by the sample set I've read, there's not a loser among them.
My favorite of the lot (and this is saying a lot) is Green Manor. The first volume, Assassins and Gentlemen is a collection of macabre short stories about Victorian murders - each packed with clever twists and an entertainingly warped sense of humor. The closest comparison would be if Stanley Ellin started writing Asterix.
The framing device is that all of these villainous misadventures somehow involve members of the "Green Manor" gentleman's club, but, aside from some window-dressing, all of the stories stand completely alone. The writing is by Fabien Vehlmann, who does a terrific job of pacing the mysteries and making sure each is a self-contained gem.
The art, by Denis Bodart, is absolutely perfect. He fillsthe grim backgrounds of Green Manor's sinister London setting with a cast of hilarious caricatures. His style furthers the series' disconcertingly cartoonish vibe, helping Green Manor stay firmly within the realm of black comedy.