Thursday, February 01, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #32: Bluesy Lucy by Catel and Veronique Grisseaux

I know cliches only get to be that way because they're durable and common, but, boy howdy! does this book rely heavily on a very cliched cliche for its premise. On the first page, we're at a 30th birthday party for Lucy, a professional woman somewhere in France. (I'm going to assume Paris, for reasons of either laziness or cultural weight -- and you can attribute that laziness to either me or the creators, on your whim.)

She is single, and so of course, within a few pages, breaks down because of that single status. And the rest of the book flows out from there: she's presented like a standard rom-com heroine: a career woman but drifting in her personal life, with a few super-close friends who add their own drama, and, more than anything, mildly obsessed with getting a relationship with her imagined perfect man.

So that all is Bluesy Lucy: this edition was published in English by Humanoids, the Anglo extension of the venerable French publisher Les Humanoides Associes, and created by the two French women creators Catel (just Catel) and Veronique Grisseaux (who mostly just uses her last name). I think this is a translation of the first Lucy book from 2000 (Lucie s’en soucie), from cultural markers, from the fact that Humanoids published that book in France, and just because it feels like one set of stories and not a compilation. But there are three later French albums from 2003-06, so I could be wrong.

I went into Bluesy Lucy hoping it would be something like the distaff version of Monsieur Jean: not autobiographical but informed by the creator's real working lives, honest and real about modern life, including love plots but not defined by them. This book is a little more generic than I was hoping for, telling a story that I've already seen too many times in only slightly different Gallic dress. I'm not seeing much evidence that Catel or Grisseaux saw this as a way to write about their own lives: Lucy is a stock character, familiar from many such stories before. She's fun to spend time with, and her exploits are entertaining -- and probably more so the more you can empathize with her. (And I can't, all that much, being American and male and boringly married for the long term.)

The art, though, is full of energy: spiky and bouncy and crackling like a live wire. It gets to the heart of Lucy's character, and makes her that much more lovable -- she may be a cliche, but she's this specific version of the cliche, alive there on the page.

Bluesy Lucy might not have been all I was hoping from it, but it's a pleasant romantic comedy in comics form, with extra French elan. And I do suspect female readers will react to it better than I did.

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