Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Miss Don't Touch Me

Hubert & Kerascoet

Miss Don't Touch Me is a French graphic novel from writer and colorist Hubert, and Kerascoet, a husband-wife art team who have done work on some of Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar's Dungeon books.  Speaking of Joann Sfar, the art on this book very much reminded me of the type of pencils I would see him turn out, loose and willowy and expressive.  This book kind of does several different things, and to fantastic effect, but ultimately, this is a murder mystery.  Someone is cutting women to pieces in 1930's Paris, dubbed the Butcher of the Dances, and Blanche warns her close friend Agatha to quit attending the dances in the suburbs where the murders are occurring.  However, it's something much closer to home that the girls need fear.  While alone in her room one night, Blanche witnesses something chilling through a hole in the wall that looks into the abandoned building behind her.  What she sees will upend her world and send her to uncover the meaning behind the senseless death of her dear friend.  To get closer to the truth, Blanche adopts the role of Miss Don't Touch Me, or a stern punishing English governess, at the Pompadour, a high-class bordello where the Butcher's last victim came from.  Once there, she witnesses behavior that scandalizes her, and makes the acquaintance of several fascinating characters, and many enemies, whose petty jealousies force her to commit acts she didn't think herself capable of.  I love the character of Blanche.  She compromises some aspects of herself to accomplish her goals, but is resilient as ever in working toward them.  She's a capable woman with an honorable endgame, but her methods are certainly questionable, and downright vile at times, yet you can't help but get a certain satisfaction when she does do something a darker character would do, despite her early naivety.  It's a thrilling look at a woman in a difficult situation who no longer has anything left to lose, even if it is all over-the-top and silly in the end.  This book is full of terrific environments and secondary characters who come into their own along the way, each with quirks and oozing personality.  This book has mystery, horror, drama, suspense and is completely riveting throughout, leading to a satisfying climax after all is said and done.  This is a very impressive work that people aren't talking about enough.

No comments: