Review by Win Wiacek
In 2005 French museum the Louvre began an ongoing collaboration with the upstart art form of comics. They invited some of the world’s most accomplished masters of graphic narrative to create new works in response to centuries of acquired treasures residing within their grand repository of arts, history and culture.
The first responder was Nicolas de Crécy: a wünderkind of French comics whose unique take was boldly off-kilter, ingeniously amusing and fantastically sardonic.
Thousands of years from now Earth is a frozen dustheap. Scrabbling through its barren remains come a turbulent group of scientists and archaeologists. The humans are a tendentious bunch, constantly bickering and pontificating on what the lost civilisation they are obsessed with understanding was like. Most have their own theories and are only looking for finds to validate their views.
Far more open and philosophical are the tubby talking dogs who act as frontrunners; hyper-keen noses sniffing out areas where potential finds are buried. Especially sensitive – in every meaning of the term – is Hulk. The rotund canine rogue feels the party’s tensions and when he sleeps he has strange dreams of beautiful old things. When he and expedition leader Juliette are separated from the others during a storm the following calm reveals an ancient structure freshly uncovered. The humans swarm all over the “temple”, expounding grand plans, but the irascible mutt knows this find is mere dross.
Elsewhere Juliette and Gregor imperious alpha male Gregor clash over leadership and studious Joseph suffers for his chivalry when he intervenes. Further violence is only avoided when the unstable landscape shifts and from the icy crust an ancient structure begins to rise. Inside the fabled metropolis all are stunned by the images and artefacts they find. Frantically hypothesising, they plunge deeper into the still-shifting edifice. Entranced and intoxicated by the panoply of pictures and statues, the humans’ imaginations run amok.
Far below them, Hulk is encountering something uncanny and is soon conversing with the oldest objet d’art in the vaults. These relics know that the Louvre is in its tectonic death throes and need his help to save every wonderful “living” treasure which has waited here for patient millennia. Sharing with him the true stories, mistakes and triumphs of the past races of man, dog and anxious, animated exhibits unite in a desperate attempt to save their quintessential timeless splendours from final obliteration.
Accompanied by a formidable and informative List of Works featured in this captivating yarn, this is a bemusing, wide-eyed, light-hearted, epic and engrossing, darkly charming graphic discussion on the nature and value of art and our eternal ever-changing relationship to it. It is also an entrancing, wittily literal shaggy dog story that reads superbly even if you wouldn’t be caught dead in a museum, French or otherwise.