For the Solrad site, an article about The Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, or at least those first four of Jacques Tardi’s stories that Fantagraphics republished in English before the series went on hiatus. I have a soft spot for Luc Besson’s Adèle film, but he didn’t make her the complicated bundle of exasperated irritation that her creator did. The throwaway visual of her sucking her thumb while asleep after she’s spent fifty pages bulldozing through the officious oafs who run French society is the mark of a cartoonist who knows that his character is an innocent heading for a disaster, and it isn’t even her fault.
Tardi’s appalled fascination with World War I as the pit that Europe still hasn’t climbed out of a century later looms over everything he creates, and if Adèle takes a more metaphorical route to the topic than something like It Was the War of the Trenches — which truly has something of Goya about it — then maybe that just makes Adèle’s poignancy sharper. The poilu in the trenches are in hell, but Adèle Blanc-Sec and everyone she encounters while getting caught up in plague cults and mad science and spiritualist ectoplasm in 1912 Paris still has hell to look forward to. The Solrad piece is here.