This is a little gem of a graphic novel. Set in Russia after a world war in the near future that seems to have wiped out most of humanity (here made up of anthropomorphic pigs…) and most of the technology. A small group of survivors have built themselves a true communist society and are trying to make do, while they are all slowly dying from radioactive poisoning. The protagonist is a former soldier who deserted and are now trying to make himself useful by biking around, helping out, solving disputes etc., while coughing worse and worse. It’s sad, beautiful and touching, and really far from many other, more chaotic, action filled post apocalyptic dystopias. I do hope we will see more stories from this world in the future.
Ariol is quickly becoming my favourite children’s comic. Guibert constantly delivers scripts that really feel like they depicts the reality of children, as opposed to all those stories about children, written by adults from a safe distance. In this volume, for instance, I loved the little story of how the hesitant Ariol tries hard to impress the resolute and confident girl he loves, or the one about the obsession of collecting cards that can transcend generational gaps.
Benjamin Bear is a strange little comic, a bit like a childrens’ version of the absurd Cowboy Henk , if anyone can imagine that… The protagonist is an anthropomorphic bear living in an undefined world seemingly without any humans. The comics spans one page each and always end with a joke, even though the path there often contains some kind of lesson about how the physical world works. At the same time, it is absurd on an almost metaphysical level, as everything seems to be possible in Benjamin Bear’s strange world. The images are simple and clear, and the comics are clearly geared towards the youngest readers. As such, I think Benjamin Bear is excellent in that it combines didactic intentions with a great sense of humor and some pure nonsense.