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cover

Paris


A 120-page graphic novel, SLG, 2007.
Buy at Amazon.

Category: lesbian, slice-of-life.

Author(s): Andi Watson, Simon Gane.
Website: No site

Juliet begins to work (1)

It's something of a cliché to write a love story (mostly) set in Paris, isn't it? Writer Andi Watson and artist Simon Gane have nevertheless done just that, although with a twist: the main characters are two young women from antagonist social backgrounds. Juliet is an American would-be painter from a working-class family, who spends time in Paris to learn the classical ways; Deborah is a Bristish aristo with a fearsome aunt for a chaperone. Both meet in 50's Paris, when Juliet is commissioned to paint a portrait of Deborah.
In this book collecting the 2005 mini-series, Watson, who's now justly famous for a number of books written and drawn by himself (among which some--straight--heartfelt romances), collaborates with Simon Gane, whose work I didn't know before.
By setting their story in a very particular place and time, and one that already feels as magical and timeless as something out of the Arabian Nights for a lot of people, they've added a layer of complexity to what otherwise seems not too original to me. The obstacles faced by the two women are of course the weight of family and society's expectations, as much because they're women as because they fall in love with one. Deborah is supposed to be a good daughter and marry someday or other, and Juliet's parents, while good people, hope she'll come to her senses and abandon her wild dreams of art. In fact, Watson's script feels a bit disjointed to me, and the ending is rather predictable--but then, this is unashamed romance, so what else should we expect?
On the other hand, there are really nice bits of writing, in the dialogues (except for the use of French, which is regularly atrociously translated and often made me feel like buying a Teach Yourself language method for Watson), the characters' behavior, and the specificities of the settings. Much is made of Paris itself, and of the ways of the people in this period. That aspect owes a lot to Gane's work, which is detail and background-heavy, with characters' designs which add to the period atmosphere. The style is angular and very assured, with dense pages begging the reader for a second look. We couldn't be further from Watson's own pared-down style in his recent works like Little Star.
The fact that this is not a straight romance is never spelled out, and in my opinion, that's a nice choice, since it enables the authors to focus on the hardships that arise out of any worthy romance. There's also a fun little gay twist that I didn't see coming, and which probably wouldn't have worked as well in a contemporary setting.
While I think that Paris might not the best script from Watson, it's made all better by Gane's art, and the end result is a very enjoyable trip to a romantic past.

Juliet begins to work (2)
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