14 January 2017

Love: The Dinosaur

Title: Love: The Dinosaur
Authors: Federico Bertolucci, Frédéric Brrémaud (Illustrator)
Year of publishing: 2015
Publisher: Ankama
Source: I requested this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I was combing though the "read now" section on NetGalley, looking for some easy reads, when I stumbled upon this comic book. The first thing that got my attention was the cover art. Obviously. I mean, look at it! I was also intrigued by the title. Why was a comic book that was evidently about dinosaurs titled "Love"? I didn't know, but I intended to find out. 

Love is by far one of the most unusual books I have read. No, scratch that. It's one of the most unusual books I have seen, because you cannot technically read it: there is not one line of dialogue or any written word in it, if you don't count the info page in the beginning. 

How do you create a story with no dialogue or narration? How do you create a story if all of your characters are animals? And I don't mean anthropomorphic animals, but actual realistic animals (and we know that nobody in the animal kingdom, with the exception of a few species of birds can master the art of speech). This is not Jurassic Park, where it's the dinosaurs' appetite for human flesh that makes them so interesting. Instead, the dinos here become characters in their own right. 

We're used to the narrative that is more or less human-centric, and everything that isn't in any way related to our own man-made world becomes mysterious and "prehistoric". We perceive every story in relation to our world and to ourselves, and it can be difficult for us to relate to and immerse ourselves in stories that have absolutely no relationship to our world. And, this must pose a challenge for any author who attempts to write such a story. 

Our main hero is a cute little bird-like dinosaur, called Bambiraptor Feinbergi, and we get to follow him (her? it?) on his adventures as he's hunting for tiny mammals, gets mixed up in some epic fights between a T-Rex and a Diplodocus, and is basically trying to stay alive in a cruel and unforgiving world. Like I said, the dinos are their own characters, and the authors achieve this by giving them their own personalities and quirks, which makes them more relatable to us, and also adds the element of humour to the story. 

Still, the best part about Love is the artwork. This is without a doubt the best artwork I have seen in a comic book so far. The colours are soft, yet vivid, and the imagery is so life-like and real that you can smell the rain as the two-dimensional drops fall down, and it looks as if the big scary dinos are springing from the page. Or in this case, from the screen of my e-reader. Everything about the artwork - the colours, the perspective, and the attention to details suggests that Bertolucci put a lot of love in his work. No pun intended. Did I wish that the dinos were feathered? Yes. And the fact that Bertolucci chose to go with the featherless and now dated version of dinos is my only grievance about Love.

This book is the fourth entry in the Love series, with each book focusing on a specific animal in a specific environment. And I'm curious as to what drove these two guys to create this series. They open with a quote from Moliere's The Misanthrope:

"I become quite melancholy and deeply grieved to see men behave to each other as they do. Everywhere I find nothing but base flattery, injustice, self-interest, deceit and roguery."

and then go on by stating that:

"In the animal kingdom, animals neither love nor hate each other. Love and hate are parts of a natural whole. A supreme balance many consider to be universal. Or even divine. An elemental love. A love that mankind could never experience."

So I wonder if this comic book series is the authors' own way of expressing their love for nature and its simplicity and unassumingness.

My rating: 4 stars

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