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The Blue Notebook
posted December 27, 2005

Creators: Andre Juillard
Publishing Information: NBM, $13.95
Ordering Numbers: 1561631914

Another classy outing in the ComicsLit series from Terry Nantier and the gang -- more interesting than the Cosey books, and not as graphically involving as the Prado stuff they've done, but a worthy addition to an adult comics reader's library.

In the publicity copy for The Blue Notebook, the publishers compare it to the successful American foreign film imports of two-three years ago, Red and Blue, both of whom featured incredibly gorgeous brunette actresses in moody, emotionally-layered stories. (White is left off the comparison list, perhaps because a subtle distinction between the content of the three films is being made, perhaps because Julie Delpy is a blonde.)

It's a reasonably apt comparison. From my reading, The Blue Notebook is concerned with the ephemeral nature of personal connections between adults. Two acquaintances, Victor and Armand, vie for the attention of a beautiful woman, Louise, whom they glimpse naked in her apartment. The two men joust for her attention, a contest that's only hinted at in the beginning of the album, but made more apparent as the narrative progresses.

The album's best scenes come from a ploy Armand initiates against Victor when Louise and Victor become a couple: sending Louise Victor's diary, which reveals that Victor's pursuit of her was incredibly obsessive -- much more so than Victor revealed in his face-to-face encounters with her. Re-playing scenes we've already seen from a different viewpoint, our understanding of the narrative is deepened in a very satisfying manner.

The other enjoyable aspect of the book is Juillard's art: he has a very elegant line, the backgrounds are rendered in great detail, and he draws attractive figures both male and female (part of the enjoyment of the Red and Blue pictures for most of us). The book kind of lost me in its last chapter, an oblique telling of Armand's demise and Victor meeting with someone new -- just in time for a dramatic, long-shot conclusion featuring Louise. And one's enjoyment of The Blue Notebook may be limited to the entertainment value one receives from Euromovie-style "beautiful people suffering" -- in other words, this isn't really about anything than its own story -- but it's much classier than anything else on the review pile this week, and worth a look.

This review was written in the late 1990s as part of a then-ongoing freelance gig; I apologize if it reads oddly or seems incomplete.