by Cyril Pedrosa (2011)
This is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about a young French artist who is suffering writer’s block after the publication of his first book Tres Sombras (Three Shadows). He is frustrated with his teaching job, his relationship with his girlfriend and his life in general. He gets invited to a comic book convention in Portugal – where his family used to spend their summer vacations when he was a child – to promote and sign copies of his book. Not much happens at the convention, but he finds some sort of much needed inner peace and relaxation during his time in Lisbon. The trip allows his creative juices to start flowing again.
He returns to France, makes some changes in his life and eventually returns to Portugal for a wedding. He learns more about his family’s Portuguese roots; he also learns why his grandfather moved to France all those years ago and never returned to Portugal. It isn’t an action-packed read, but a slow, lingering, thoughtful book about a guy figuring out who he is and where he stands in the world. I have to admit, I didn’t get sucked into the story until 25 or 30 pages into it, but then I got really hooked and couldn’t put it down.
The book was originally published in French by Dupuis. My copy (published by NORMA Editorial) is a Spanish translation with a bit of French, Portuguese and English sprinkled throughout. The drawing style is very dreamlike and melancholy; the color scheme is overwhelmingly autumnal and made me nostalgic for those innocent days of youth. All in all, I highly recommend this intimate, poetic tale of family and identity.