Review by Frank Plowright
Cedric is a tricky series to review as it’s been consistent from the start of these English language translations, and with minor variations any comments about individual books apply to the series as a whole. Raoul Cauvin continually plots neat little domestic comedies, and Laudec’s cartooning is poised and personality rich. They utilise themes any parent will recognise, here beginning with the school nativity play and ending with regular horror of Cedric’s report card, and manage to find new humorous twists to the familiar. In the opening strip it’s Grandad’s hilarity as one catastrophe after another blights the play, and in the closer it’s Cedric’s confidence he can manipulate his parents despite the school report being as wretched as ever. There’s an earlier appearance for a school report as well.
A reason the stories work so well is that Cauvin doesn’t always depend on a single gag for a single strip, although he can manage those well enough. One of the longer strips included is the story of how Cedric’s parents met, but it’s layered, told in the present day with Grandad fuming as he overhears again how his boastful incompetence led to his now having to live with a son in law he doesn’t like very much. Cauvin also plays well with audience anticipation. In even highly regarded domestic comedies, the repeated line about a box of chocolates in a strip would have led to the eventual appearance of those chocolates, but Cauvin’s a few steps ahead, and drops a smart alternative pay-off.
Despite working on a successful series for over thirty years, Laudec is under-appreciated, certainly as far as English language readers are concerned. He’s a great cartoonist, natural, expressive and inordinately talented. It’s impossible not to be captivated by his charming cast and even were Cauvin a lesser writer, they’d go a long way in convincing the strip was better. Thankfully that’s not required, and the next collection is Isn’t it Past Your Bedtime?