What is it about Belgian comics? The Leaning Girl immediately draws you in. It is part of a greater whole of The Obscure Cities, created by François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, and brought to its English-language incarnation by Steve Smith of Alaxis Press.
The world feels familiar, yet dreamlike. You’ve been here before, surely. It’s a country you’ve been to, maybe? A dream you once had?
The drawing style is precise and architectural; sometimes delicate like in an old-fashoned children’s book. The atmosphere is that of a Jules Verne adventure with a bit of the Little Prince thrown in.You don’t need to know anything about The Obscure Cities to enjoy The Leaning Girl; it stands alone. Adventurers, space cadettes and fans of high-quality graphic novels ought to keep an eye on Alaxis Press – there are plans to publish more of the series and The Leaning Girl is now available to pre-order.
Theleaninggirlreview3One day, a perfectly ordinary girl Mary Von Rathen starts to lean to one side. All attempts to straighten her up result in failure. She cannot stand straight and if forcibly moved to a standing position, she falls over. We follow Mary as she begins to unravel the mystery and the answer turns out to be delightfully outlandish.
Themes of teenage coming-of-age, feeling like an outsider and even cultural displacement are explored through the tale which tells two, apparently parallel, stories – one drawn, one told in photographs. At first it isn’t clear how these two strands relate but I can’t tell you much more without spoiling the plot. The discoveries you make on the way add to the charm. This is fiction that doesn’t under-estimate its reader.
Theleaninggirlreview-4It’s a world that stays with you. It clearly captured Steve Smith who became so convinced the story should be told to a wider audience that he started a Kickstarter project to make it happen:
The Obscure Cities is an internationally acclaimed graphic novel series, having won major awards in Europe and Japan including the Grand Prize Manga in the 2013 Japan Arts Festival. It was the first time that a foreign author or series won this award. The translated The Obscure Cities album was chosen over 457 other entries. I have translated The Leaning Girl ( L’enfant Penchée) into English and have licensed the rights to the entire series with the hope of reintroducing these great stories to the United States and English-speaking countries. This Kickstarter campaign is to help cover the production costs on the first book, The Leaning Girl. I have the blessings of the author and artist, and the licensing rights from their publisher, Casterman, in Belgium.
The Leaning Girl is due to be published on the 1st of March, 2014 (a delay from the original estimate of December 2013) and the best source of current progress will probably be Alaxis Press itself.
*Blogger's note: THIS I would read. It sounds awesome.