Review by Ian Keogh
Although still the creation of Raoul Cauvin and Willy Lambil, Sallie has a very different tone from the other Bluecoats graphic novels supplied in English to date. It’s more reflective, less comical, and by 2018 Lambil’s cartooning has developed greatly from the 1980s, edging closer to realism and losing some comedic detail. Sallie’s not exactly tired, but it’s certainly laboured in places as Cauvin takes far longer to work toward the jokes, and there’s a greater predictability to them.
Sallie is the dog accompanying a new batch of Union soldiers sent to bolster the troop to which Blutch and Chesterfield belong before an expected attack by the Confederates. She’s loyal, plays well with Blutch’s horse, and captures Chesterfield’s heart.
This has the twists expected in a Bluecoats story, but they’re signposted more obviously, and scenes that are the backbone to the feature are stretched, such as the usual argument between Chesterfield and Blutch regarding their differences of opinion about being soldiers. Cauvin is generally good at ensuring new readers can pick up the basics from any Bluecoats story, but this is like reading one of his earliest efforts where he hadn’t yet quite mastered the possibilities of the cast and their situation.
Likewise, for anyone used to the sheer comedic detail Lambil has provided in every translated story to date, the art will surprise. It’s never less than professional, but it lacks the charm of Lambil’s 1980s work. All artists modify their style gradually, but the jump from the 1980s art of Bull Run to these pages is considerable. The figures are stiffer, and while the individual panels are still filled, and lead to expansive half pages, they just aren’t as memorable.
It’s an interesting glimpse into the modern era Bluecoats, but let’s hope for more classic material in The Draft Riots.