The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Vol.1 by Jacques Tardi

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Vol.1
by Jacques Tardi
Fantagraphics, 2010

The Fantagraphics translations of Tardi’s albums are welcome, although long overdue. Like any relatively new semi-academic discipline, the history of graphic novels tends to focus on just a few titles and authors at the expense of other, more original creators, and it’s interesting to speculate what influence Tardi’s work would have had if it had been more internationally available when it was first published. This story was briefly available in English twenty years ago, and now that some of Tardi’s previously-untranslated classics are out of the way, it’s Adèle Blanc-Sec’s turn to shine.

Who is Adèle Blanc-Sec? An investigative journalist in Paris in 1911, trying to track down a resurrected pterodactyl who has been terrorising inhabitants by shuffling around awkwardly and going “squawk” killing a whole bunch of people. Like Tintin, although she is a firm and resolute character, things tend to happen to her instead of her instigating them. The settings are detailed and the supporting characters (bumbling policemen and all) are somewhat more interesting than the protagonist. Tardi seems well aware of the basic silliness of the story, as in The Arctic Marauder there are fun episodic cliffhangers, but it’s very hard to get away from Tintin… there’s even a dream sequence which is just as creepy as the one in The Seven Crystal Balls.

This popular series (first published in 1976) has been turned into an interesting-sounding film by Luc Besson, which doesn’t seem to have made it here an account of it a) being in French and b) not starring Milla Jovovich.

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One Response to “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Vol.1 by Jacques Tardi”

  1. I read over my issues* of Cheval Noir that had this story in it a couple years ago. It made me wish that I had the story in a better physical format than those Cheval Noir issues; while also making me glad I at least had those Cheval Noir issues.

    * my issues being a very incomplete set

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