I was pleased by a very positive review of THE STORY OF LEE in the Midwest Book Review recently. I’m keen on having my stuff in more libraries, since I rather like libraries – they have books there! The reviewer hoped for sequels, and that is of course our plan – 3 volumes in total.
One of the pleasurable things about THE STORY OF LEE for me is the large amount of ‘artistic’ references i could put in, thanks to the characters preferences or discussions. Including, for instance, the songs ‘Losing Haringey’, ‘(I Can’t Seem) To Make You Mine’, and ‘Bookshop Casanova’ – all by a band called The Clientele. You may have heard them on the haunting opening song to the film ‘The Lakehouse’.
The Clientele’s singer and main song writer, Alasdair MacLean is a friend of mine from my days at Edinburgh University. We used to go to the Florentine Cafe, just off Edinburgh’s historic high street, and discuss our creative dreams. That was in the mid 90’s. How odd and wonderful it is that so many years later we have both managed to keep going within those creative tracks, and make a decent success of it. Especially as most people do not manage to make their young dreams come to fruition (but don’t start me on the way capitalism crushes people’s dreams! Except to say: it very often does…)
Anyway, I’m doing what I always wanted to do, make comic books, and Alasdair is doing what he always wanted to do: make music. Not only that but we even got our worlds to mix, by having him featured in THE STORY OF LEE. He also discussed the book on US radio when the interviewer asked him: “So, tell me about this manga you are in…” He proceeded to enthral her with tales of our old connection back in Scotland, the highs and the lows of it. Art and life intermingling, indeed.
“With gorgeous art intermixing beauty and weirdness, the story turns on the capriciousness of both history and art while providing a sense of a time and place where art ranked up there with liberté, égalité, and fraternité for an entire nation. With nudity and mature content; for academic and adult collections.”
And another Library publication, Foreword, chimes in:
“Ultimately, The Sky Over the Louvre is successful on many levels, for many reasons. But chief among them is the fact that it is an engrossing tale of historical fiction that provides readers with rich and varied rewards.”
“In The Sky Over the Louvre, Carrière builds up a story that uses David as a framework around which to touch on both the history of the Louvre and the complicated political passions of the time. It’s Yslaire’s layout and drafting, though, that really makes the book sing. The players in this drama are all realized as emotive caricatures, and when the story fall silent on the grand sweeping splash pages there’s a chill as the world of late 18th century Paris suddenly becomes real. In this sense it’s very reminiscent of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell in the way that it draws out the texture of the time, from the scum choked gutters to the cramped apartments.
For the fan of dramatic history, The Sky Over the Louvre is not to be missed; a sweeping graphic album that captures the creative and destructive passions of the French Revolution.”
Booklist’s Ray Olson found Sky Over the Louvre to be brought off ‘with singular panache on the part of artist Yslaire… This is bravura serious caricature.” but found scripter Carriere’s story to fall somewhat short of its potential.
“An artistic tour-de-force, yet it also tells the most relatable story we’ve seen from these books so far. What makes SKY work so well is that the creators do a superb job of helping the reader understand the timeframe in which the story takes place. The motivations, the social mores, the clothing, the abject terror… it leaps off the page and surrounds you as you go through the pages.
Highly recommended. Just like all the previous books in the Louvre series.”
And so is Brigid Alverson over at Robot 6 on Comic Book Resources:
“Sky Over the Louvre is the latest in NBM’s series of translations of graphic novels about the Louvre, and I think it’s the best so far. It’s a great read and left me wanting more.”
And then there’s this nice review done live on a radio station in Michigan, here’s the transcript (it’s short).
“Carriere effectively captures the debates of the day, the ways ideological purity can be used to rationalize atrocity, and imbues every seemingly intellectual debate with more than a hint of menace. In an era where a simple cartoon can spur true believers into violence, where a rising pool of writers judge art and entertainment on the basis of politics over anything, The Sky over the Louvre is more than a historical recreation. It’s a graphic novel for our polarized times.”
Recently I started writing the second volume of THE STORY OF LEE which I had already planned out in rough form. In fact, in true Star Wars fashion a bit of part 2 came out BEFORE part 1! The collection ‘Best New Manga vol 2’ a few years ago had a 25 page section from our SOL story that takes place in Edinburgh, the setting for part 2 of THE STORY OF LEE. So, I began to work up the details of that story recently, spurred on by some of the reviews that volume 1 has had.
Those reviews often made the point that the conflict in personality and culture between Matt and Lee was not explored enough in volume 1. Agreed! – as this is a three part story and the full range of such things was never intended to be explored in just the first volume. Wait for the whole spread, in which we will do our best to go into those things more.
A second point in those reviews is that some of the crisis in volume 1 were too easily resolved. Not agreed! – I was tired of all those stories, especially films, were the romantic difficulties were strung out artificially over weeks, months, year even! How cliched that all is. So, I deliberately wrote a story in which the issues were resolved with direct frank discussion, due to some precipitating event – just like they sometimes are in lived experience.
Of course its possible that in doing this I forget some basic storytelling rules or structures. Yes, that may be the case. Or, then again, maybe the story just goes against most reader’s habitual presumptions of what will happen. In which case, I’m glad – we made something a little unusual.
“Creating an effective graphic novel about classic art is no simple task, requiring a writer capable of conveying the drama of the artistic process, and an artist up to the challenge of producing images that do justice to the subject matter. Fortunately, Yslaire and Carriere have both. Will reward those who seek it out.”
“NBM ComicsLit’s partnership with The Louvre museum has produced another outstanding graphic novel. The Sky Over The Louvre almost couldn’t miss. It’s written by celebrated screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (The Tin Drum, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), and drawn by leading French artist Bernar Yslaire (Sambre), and both demonstrate the surefootedness of their experience in both quality and content.”
“De Crécy’s loose, organic illustrations breathe life into his characters and give energy to his panel movement. Verdict: De Crécy’s dry, witty humor combined with his endearing creatures makes a singular and worthy addition to comprehensive graphic novel collections.”
“Made me feel warm and fuzzy. As novel as this situation might be for readers, it’s oddly familiar territory for the creators. Writer Sean Michael Wilson is a Scot living in Japan, and artist Chie Kutsuwada is a Japanese living in London. Their familiarity with the turf wars gives this unpretentious East-meets-West, boy-meets girl story an easy, breezy sense of verisimilitude.”