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Baloney by Pascal Blanchet

Following White Rapids — named “Best Comic of 2007” by The Onion — Pascal Blanchet brings us Bologne. Winds swirl and darkness reigns over a hamlet perched atop a craggy peak. Russian fatalism sets the tone as Blanchet orchestrates the tale of a village butcher, his disabled daughter, and her tutor, in their doomed uprising against the swaggering Duke Shostakov, local governor and owner of the only heating company in town. Curvy, retro lines and atmospheric, full-page panels evoke plaintive melodies, staccato passages and soaring solos. In a graphic novel about love and despair that is also a homage to the music of the 1930s and 40s, double bassists and trombonists lean into the frame, striking up a score that blends vaudeville with Kurt Weill and Russia’s great modern composers. Rendered in two-color, red and black chiaroscuro, light struggles to emerge from darkness and endurance makes way for heroism, all to no avail. Read Bologne as a reverie composed to the melodies of Prokofiev and Shostakovich: a beautiful conjuring of moods, or a call to arms against the exorbitant rates charged by utilities.

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