New York, Mon Amour is a collection of short stories told in comic form, illustrated by Jacques Tardi, a legendary French cartoonist with more than 50 years creating comics, written by his wife Dominique Grange and Benjamin Legrand, a seasoned crime novel writer. It frames the darker side of the city: its crime, the day-to-day struggles and suffering of its citizens. The main story in the collection is called Cockroach Killer and features Walter Eisenhower, a bit of a thoughtless stooge who haphazardly gets into trouble with the mafia while minding his own business, working as an exterminator.
I lived in New York for three years, and I was familiar with Jacques Tardi from his work You Are There so naturally once I discovered New York, Mon Amour, I had to pick it up. I lived in Brooklyn from 2015 to 2017, so I didn’t have the classic experience that we see in movies. My neighborhood was safe, relatively clean, and calm. But part of me always wanted to see the grimier, grittier side of New York. Books like these help the imagination.
Jacques Tardi’s is a hand-drawn, 1950’s cartoon style, reminiscent of Tintin and Will Eisner’s work at the same time, but distinctly European in the way he draws characters and their facial expressions. His line work is clean and crisp in black ink, down to the rivets in the subway trains, the scrapes in a police car’s paint job, and the reflection of the sun on a black leather jacket. He’s a master of traditional comic art, and his style suits the dark, gritty nature of New York’s criminal underground perfectly.
The stories leave you wishing you could turn back the page, to tell the characters not to get off on that floor, not to turn back, not to trust that friend, let alone that stranger. Overall, it’s a book I highly recommend; a valuable addition to any Euro graphic novel collection.
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