Review by Win Wiacek
Nicolas de Crécy was in the Class of ’87 – the first year to graduate from the École supérieure de l’image d’Angoulême. After a stint at Disney he moved into bande dessinée, enjoying a prolific career including Salvatore, about a dog who’s a grease-monkey.
Salvatore is an absolute wizard with all things metallic and oil-spattered, but a grumpy sod who dislikes customers so much he built his garage on the peak of a mountain to discourage them. However, he is simply so good that they all come anyway, prepared to put up with the hassle and his attitude, if only he will fix their ailing vehicles. Moreover, Salvatore has a secret he needs peace and quiet for and that’s so attractive.
He has plenty of pain in his life but has struggled on, buoyed by an artisan’s dedication and sensibilities. It’s what makes him such an exceedingly good mechanic. One day, the tragically short-sighted widow Amandine pulls into his frosty, cloud bedecked garage with a suspicious knocking in her engine and his life changes for ever. As well as practically blind, Amandine is heavily pregnant with twelve piglets (not unknown for a sow of her breed) and something softens within the cold canine. Offering her the unexpected hospitality of his fondue lunch, the spanner jockey nevertheless succumbs to his one weakness – “borrowing” a surplus part from her vehicle for his great project.
The little mutt has a dream and is prepared to sacrifice his principles to achieve it. Once, he loved and lost Julie. The bitch – don’t know what breed or her pedigree – moved to South America and since then he has devoted all his spare time to building a fantastic vehicle to follow her, where undoubtedly, love will reunite them forever. His super-car is almost ready: the last part necessary can be picked up on the way; all he has to do is reach an understanding with its current owner – a perfectly reasonable bull named Jerome. Amandine, however, has not quite left his life: visually impaired to a comic degree, and heavily pregnant, she cannot be trusted to drive a small family runabout down a snow-capped alpine slope.
Surreal and joyously whimsical, but with a delightfully dark edginess, this lost delight from multi-award winning cartoonist de Crécy is a hypnotically addictive, daftly sophisticated fable of the dangerous accelerant called love and remains one of the best comics you STILL haven’t read.
Funny, gently adventurous, subversively satirical and filled to bursting with empathy and pathos, this beguiling yarn will schmooze itself into your head and make itself far too comfortable to have removed. Salvatore’s story concludes in An Eventful Crossing.