Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Slalom by Lewis Trondheim

Look, most of what I could say here I just said in writing about Gloomtown. That post has not gone live as I type here, so I'm hoping I will remember to drop a link in time. But, folks, it only went up a couple of days ago, and is probably just three posts back in the history of this blog. It's not gonna be hard to find.

Slalom was the first of the "McConey" books by Lewis Trondheim, his first work published outside of L'Association (which he co-founded and ran), and his first broadly "commercial" comics work - with the caveat that "commercial" meant something radically different in early-90s France (and in Francophone comics in general, in any recent decade) than it generally does in a US context. In lists of the series, I've seen it noted as number "zero;" I have no idea why, or if that means anything in particular. It was originally published in black-and-white in 1993, but Trondheim revised it a few years later, once he was deeper into the series, to bring its look into the series style (color, borders drawn with a ruler, relationship of the original art to printed size, similar things that only bother a creator).

It's contemporary fiction, slice-of-life division: four friends go on a ski holiday together to an unspecified mountainous resort area. They can, and do, drive there, which in a French context means they left probably-Paris to go somewhere in the Alps. US translations of the McConey books sometimes tries to pretend they live in NYC; this one starts and ends on the trip and doesn't attempt to explain where this is or where these friends live.

There's not really a larger story: they meet a couple of girls, and two of the guys have semi-dates with them, that don't lead to much. There's a wolf somewhere in the area, which shuts down the trains for a day or two - but the plot is not about how these regular guys hunt the wolf, or are killed by the wolf, or have a shocking encounter with the wolf. All in all, it's most similar in tone to a long episode of a good sitcom: these are characters with clear personalities, they know each other and bounce off each other, and what happens to them is amusing and fun without having to be deeply plotty.

So they ski for what seems to be a week: Trondheim doesn't even make the amount of time this takes entirely clear. They have fun, but they each have different ideas of what "fun" is - like real people in a real world do. What they do is amusing: if I read this first, it would make me want to read more comics about McConey and his friends, and maybe see what their lives were like day-to-day back in the big city.

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