Review by Frank Plowright
This is another graphic novel from early in Melusine’s 24 album career, the fifth, from 1998, and bears the positives and shortcomings of the previously translated material produced when the strip was still finding its feet.
The idea of largely single page gags about an attractive teenage witch is viable, but all too often those gags are obvious and do little more than prompt a half-smile rather than a full-on laugh. Then this is a strip aimed at children, despite the charm and sophistication of Clarke’s cartooning.
Love Potions is a default title generated by front ending several strips on the topic from the material serialised in 1997, none of them particularly notable. It’s also the title of a four page strip closing the book, of which more later. Love is one of several recurring themes, others being Melusine’s friend Cancrelune’s spell-casting and potion making incompetence, a recurring preacher determined to exorcise the cast, and the devastating effects of sunlight on her vampire landlord.
If the results are uninspiring over one page, a mistake is permitting François Gilson to extend his scripts to two pages. Almost every example here could be cut back to just the single page without affecting the basic gag, and there’s never any justifying the extra length by greater humorous content. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the title story. Villagers are menaced by a dragon, Melusine tracks the dragon and discovers it’s in love with another, and the effect of her love potion is to intensify their attraction until the flames within reduce both to ashes simultaneously. The punchline is a ‘burning passion’ joke you could have made yourself. This occupies four pages. Four Pages!
As the series continued the jokes improved, but this is early days, so the appeal is entirely down to Clarke’s artwork. He has a beautifully fluid line ensuring the cast have a grace and poise about them, never seeming stiff or static, and his designs match his technical skill.
Cinebook’s next release skips a few volumes to Tales of the Full Moon.