Sunday, 4 March 2012

Largo Winch

I've been reading lots of blogs reviewing graphic novels and I felt I was missing out on something.  Solution:  go to the expert (my friend Carmen) and ask for some graphic novels, pleaaaseee.  She obliged and gave me the first three issues from the Largo Winch series to read and see what I thought of them.
Now, my experience so far had been Asterix while growing up and some M.A.D. issues as a teenager.  Then literature books started, and that was the end for "non-books".

So, I started with the "Heir" issue, which welcomed me into the world of the W group and Largo Wynczlav.  My initial reaction was that Largo like Patrick Sawyze looked and the man who got him into trouble like an aged M.A.D. character (if they're nothing like that, please forgive my inexperience in discerning illustrated characters...)

Largo's adoptive father, Nerio, is killed and while the future of W group is at stake, Largo finds himself in trouble in Turkey.  Bear in mind this is the 1990's, so some macho style is still lying around:  men are still in super-power suits, drinking and  smoking, while women are drop-dead gorgeous, wearing tiny bathrobes or tight dresses and are always ready to succumb to temptation AND serve coffee... (tiny hint of sarcasm here)

I was surprised at the raw violence depicted in the shooting scenes and all those guns just lying around. Yes, I thought, this is the 1990's of all the TV series which tended to glorify combat and gun use, but I was seriously concerned about the age of the target audience of such graphic novels.  Then again, being a lot older than that audience, I may have become more sensitive to such issues...

In "The W group", Largo comes head to head with the other shareholders of the group, and we get a glimpse in his upbringing, as well as his encounters with Nerio.  This change from the past to the present, as it explains what has actually made Largo, is quite refreshing - it offers a look into a complex personality.  If only again the guns were not totting around like mad, and if only Largo was not playing with a dagger in the meeting room, throwing it in the end into the armchair of a rival shareholder...

The use of various exclamation points in the novels substitutes the body language in the films, and I found this technique very innovative in complementing the little dialogue boxes.  The emphasis on words in super bold characters and the use of words for indicating all types of noise (klak! tak! slam! bzzzz!) reminded me of the 1960's TV series of Batman and Robin.  How ingenious!

And lastly in "O.P.A." (the take-over  bid), a disgraced shareholder tries to buy back all available shares of the W group through a rival company.  Largo avoids a hostile take-over by buying out all the smaller shareholders of this company.  The violence here is more of the financial type, which a) I understand  and b) causes no bodily harm.  Of the three, I would have to say I enjoyed this story much more than the others.  In general, the storyline in all three issues is moderately complex (it can't be more within 50 pages) but the novels logically follow one after the other and depend on previous issues - I suppose this creates the fan base of any graphic novel, waiting impatiently for the next issue (I've witnessed Carmen getting all excited when the latest issue of Largo came out...)

The last point that surprised me was the amount of time it took to read them.  I was under the impression that I could get 50 pages read in half an hour - I was reading in French, but the level of difficulty was not that great (although I did learn some new swearwords!).  Still, it took me about 3 days to read the three issues, to study and marvel at the complexity of the scenes described.  Never again will I regard graphic novels as "non-books"...


  1. Welcome to the wonderful world of graphic novels! I used to like Largo Winch, even though it never got me hooked as XIII did, but I realise now that years later I barely remember a thing - except all the guns and bimbos ;-)

    1. I think that part stays whether one likes the novel or not...




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