Laurent, a dashing car salesman for Citroën and a weekend Rally racer, is fired for having an affair with his boss’ wife. He finds a job with Porsches and soon vies for the affection of the daughter of his new boss. Meanwhile, Laurent and Richard, his mechanic and co-pilot are planning to use a Porsches for their next rally, but how will Laurent get the car? Will his advances to his boss’ daughter help him?
Zone rouge is a different kind of motor-related comic. Laurent is best described as Pépé Le Pew. This comic is set in the 1950s, so that may explain Laurent’s attitude towards women. It’s refreshing to see a pure womanizer and jerk in comics. The story, however, is pure talking head and a lot conversations between characters. Much of it does advance the plot, but for a story about car racing, the reading pace was very slow. Much of the text includes minutia about the cars.
In this volume, there was little action. This may be a problem for fans of the genre who expect a lot of car racing. However, Olivier Dauger and his ligne caire style was an interesting experiment. Dauger is experienced in car rendering and similar comics like airplanes and racing. Seeing a ligne claire rendering – that is an artist whose work looks like Tintin or Blake and Mortimer is unusual for this kind of comic.
Dauger’s work reminds me of Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics creators like Adrian Tomine, except it’s put to work to feature cars! Dauger’s clean work was dynamic but I felt that he wasn’t allowed to jump ahead in this story because of the weight talking heads in the plot. The story doesn’t conclude on a cliffhanger but one can assume that in the next volume, there will be much more racing involved.