Monday, 27 February 2017

Hearts at Sea by Cyril Pedrosa Review


Jean-Marc has a comfortable job at his family’s toy company and an active social life with friends - except he’s horribly bored. His mother is overbearing, he doesn’t really enjoy playing football with his buddies, and he couldn’t care less about his work. Jean-Marc is lonely for a female partner, stuck in a rut and needs to escape. So he jumps onto a singles cruise and his adventure towards a new life begins…

I really enjoyed Cyril Pedrosa’s Hearts at Sea. I’m sure more than a few people can relate to feeling trapped in their lives and it’s fun to live vicariously through Jean-Marc, particularly as Pedrosa has a good time torturing the poor guy with one awkward interaction after another. Jean-Marc is a very likeable loser too – I was rooting for the guy the whole time even though pretty much every woman he meets is a hopeless disaster! – and I appreciated that Pedrosa stayed away from the fairy-tale ending. Not that it’s a sad finale (it’s actually very hopeful) but Jean-Marc’s problems aren’t all magically solved either, much like real life.

My favourite part of reading French comics is the art – it’s always, always so good. The artwork is extremely expressive and flowing, like the figures are always moving even when standing still – their clothes are moving, their hair is moving, their faces are constantly contorting. You get a visceral sense of the energy of the dance floor in the club which looks like a fire and the people dancing are like flames. It’s not surprising given this vivid art style that Pedrosa used to work for Disney on films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules – their animated movies always feature extremely smooth, energetic art, which is much like Pedrosa’s work here.

There’s a minor criticism in that Hearts at Sea is like a lot of sad bastard comics (a sub-genre I’m a big fan of) and in that regard it’s fairly generic overall. Mostly though I dug this book a lot and I’m sure other fans of slice-of-life/sad bastard comics will too!

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