Written by Philippe Vandevelde (Tome), illustrated by Jean-Richard Geurts (Janry)
The second volume is Cinebook’s reprinting of the classic tales of Spirou and Fantasio, and it’s no surprise to find out two intrepid adventuring journalists up to their neck in all the trouble the Big Apple can offer. I looked at Volume 1 back here when they found themselves in Australia and had this to say:
“You may recognise the name, you may even recognise the face, but surprisingly, with over 60 years of publishing history, Spirou has received almost no English translation prior to this Cinebook version. But Spirou should have an immediate appeal to anyone familiar with either of those European classics as its light, fast and fun story, with much to grab the attention of any child, lies somewhere in tone and style between Tintin and Asterix, with the high adventure and journalistic background of Tintin, but all the madcap artwork and clever punning of Asterix that extends it’s appeal to adults willing to take a little more time over the pages.”
Here in Volume two our intrepid journos are in New York City, having won a million dollars and a trip to New York. Sadly for them, it’s all just a plot by Mafia Don Cortizone – who’s looking for some truly lucky people to aid him in his struggles against “The Mandarin”.
Cortizone’s luck has turned bad recently, really, really bad. It’s all thanks to the Triad’s resident magician of course, but hapless Cortizone’s hatched a hair-brained plan to buy himself a bit of luck courtesy of a million bucks and a lucky pizza that the two reporters spend their last hard-earned cash on.
(A curse? Oh yes, absolutely …. The visual and word gags just keep coming – “Lucky” Manolo, that perfect raincloud – brilliance from Spirou and Fantasio In New York, published by Cinebook)
So Spirou and Fatasio, along with their squirrel Spip end up on a plane to New York, and swiftly find themselves key players in the affairs of both the Mafia and the Triad. Lucky? They’ll need to be to get out of this one. But of course they do, that’s not the point really here is it? The point is the fun we have as Tome drops his adventuring journos into the melting pot of New York and brings them to the boil.
(The injured Italians milling around, the 13th Floor, the bad day at the races – no wonder Spirou’s beginning to get suspicious. And that’s before the bomb goes off. From Spirou and Fantasio In New York, published by Cinebook)
But despite their position as the main characters in the book, there’s very little of Spiro or Fantasio in this book – but that’s all to the good. The enjoyment (and there’s lots) in Spirou in New York is found in observing just how unlucky these poor Mafioso can be – with Tome working every possible gag into the comic, and packing it with loads of brilliantly ridiculous setups, all brilliantly cartooned by Janry.
Everything in the comic plays up the tremendous streak of bad luck, and just like Asterix, there’s so much fun to be had spotting all those little touches Tome and Janry put into every page, whether it’s the inclement weather that follows the Italians around, their offices on the 13th floor, or Cortizone’s unfortunate accident with a cigar and a hot air balloon.
And so much more besides – the whole thing is an absolute riot, loads of fun from start to finish. I had a great time revelling in the misadventures of the hapless Mafioso, and so will you.
The timing is pretty much perfect all the way through Spirou in New York, whether it’s those perfectly set up visual slapstick setpieces, the carefully constructed (and obviously incredibly well translated) wordplay or the little background visual gags. In fact there’s so much going on that it’s well worth a careful re-read or two. For example, here’s two beautiful pages – 19 pages apart….
Now you could just laugh at the obvious gags on the pages – of the chinese merchant taking advantage of the market’s volatility to make a quick buck or the silly sight gag of Little Italy’s phonebooths. Or you could enjoy, just like I did the second time around, the subtle, but brilliant repeat of the good luck side/bad luck side of the street reflecting the charms/revolvers of that first page.
And Spirou in New York is packed with examples of this. You’ll have a great time spotting them all.
It’s such a cliche to describe this as classic Euro cartooning, much in the mold of Tintin and Asterix, but I really can’t help it. Tha’s simply how it makes me feel. The pages have that same manic intensity of Asterix, lots of panels, lots of action, lots to take in. And the adventuring elements smack of Tintin of course. But Tintin with far more gags.
Spirou In New York just works, quite brilliantly and effectively and made me laugh from the stupid cliche of a front cover right to the end – and that’s a sure sign of a winner.