It is an old adage in writing to show, not tell. For comic books that advice holds particular merit. Paris Soirees takes that advice to heart and skillfully tells five stories without uttering a word.
Creators Francois Avril and Philippe Petit-Roule take the idea of Paris being the City of Lights and the City of Love and craft stories which are full of color, but turn the ideas of light and love on their head. Each story deals with an individual whose night should be filled with love (whether romantic or a joyful and memorable experience) but instead turns out to be less than what is hoped.
In the first story, a man is taken out for a night on the town with a friend. They hit a fancy night club where all the best acts are either too loud, ruined by the friend, or missed during an unfortunately timed trip to the restroom. What should have been an evening of fun and laughter is nothing but frustration and disappointment. The other stories in the book follow suit, with a tale of a party-goer unable to find a dance partner, two lovers unable to synch up, star-crossed lovers missing their opportunity, and a group of friends trying to have a night out together which is thwarted at every turn.
However, far from being depressing or gloomy for the reader, the stories are a bittersweet reminder that things do not always turn out as planned. In some of the stories the characters find a different type of happiness, much different than what they had planned. In others they gain an appreciation for the simple things in life. As anyone familiar with French cinema, a happy ending does not always equate to the characters falling in love and living happily ever after together.
The stories convey an amazing amount of detail through simple line art. The characters are cartoonish in nature, yet have a sense of design and style which might be more at home in advertising. Each character represents so much that must go unspoken, so the designs reflect attitude, status, relationship, and ambition. The art takes the reader to Paris of the early 1960′s and gives a flavor for the lives of ordinary men and women who long for a little bit more.
Much of the mood is controlled by color and lighting. Monochromatic colors set the feel of a particular scene or panel while light and shadow take the place of dialogue, directing the reader’s attention. The main ideas are expressed through iconography, with pictures and symbols used as words.
Paris Soirees is an ambitious piece of storytelling; the words are gone, but the stories are stronger because of it.
Paris Soirees is an over-sized (16 x 12 inches) and hardcover limited-edition comic (750 copies). Order your copy of Paris Soirees today.