Comics / European Comics

Magasin Général vol.1

By Patrick Bérubé
February 24, 2008 - 20:30

We are almost in the middle of the 20th century and most of the province of Québec, Canada is still rural. In a small northern village, the general store owner just died leaving his wife, Marie, to take care of the business alone. In order to keep the store open, Marie will try to respond to everyone’s needs. Not an easy feat for a single woman in this still very conservative society. But on an early winter’s day, after all the men left for the season, Marie picks up a mysterious stranger with a broken motorcycle…

Loisel and Tripp, two of Europe’s master storyteller, really nail it down in this graphic novel when it comes down to depicting the beauty of every day’s life. Every mundane task done by the characters become an ode to a simpler way of living, a way of showing happiness in a sometime unfair world. The creators take the time to introduce every character properly giving us the impression that everyone in the village has a life of his own. From the blacksmith to the priest, from the mayor to the fur trader, everyone seems to occupy an important place in the story.

On the other hand, I have to admit that not much happen in this first volume. But surprisingly, it’s enjoyable. Not everyone can makes an 80 pages introduction and succeed in creating excitement for the next volume but the experience of the creative team makes it happen.

With the art, both creators also worked on the process with Loisel layering out the page with a loose pencil and Tripp adding a finishing touch creating a tighter finish. It’s rare to see two masters putting egos aside to create a common vision. The result is a stunning combination of clear outline and loose pencil. The color also helps a lot in establishing the quiet prevailing tone of the book. Lapierre uses different shades according to the season the action takes place which is quite effective. It also mark the passing of time and thus help the reader understand the rhythm at which the story evolves.

We could summarize this volume as foundation for the next five to come. With an underlying theme that seems to lean toward the collision of tradition and modernism, it will be interesting to see who this mysterious stranger is and what he will bring to this peaceful village. But again, don’t read this graphic novel if you are expecting something else than human drama.

I rate this graphic novel 9.5 out of 10

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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