Tuesday, January 04, 2011
On the Odd Hours
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 71 pages
Publisher: ComicsLit (April 2010)
Bastien is deaf and uses sign language to communicate.
Like Nicolas Crecy’s Glacial Period (2007) and Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s The Museum Vaults (2008), the third Louvre-sponsored graphic novel is a fantasy, though set in the present, not the future. A guard accosts burly young Bastien—head shaved except for a forelock and goatee—eating within the hallowed gallery. Conveying that he is deaf, Bastien scribbles a note explaining he has an appointment there. Humiliated, he stomps off before his story’s fully checked. But a wizened Chinese man signs to him. The old man, a guard himself and also deaf, is the person Bastien had to meet all along. He expects Bastien to succeed him in watching over the souls of the artworks, which escape canvas, stone, and metal during the odd hours of deep night. Despite misgivings and his girlfriend’s overbearing caretaking, Bastien decides the job’s the perfect fit for him. Virtuosically rendered by Liberge, who merges elegant clear-line figuration, expressionistic pastel coloration, and in the odd-hours sequences, superimposition effects, Bastien’s story powerfully expresses the frustrations of deep hearing impairment and the irrepressible life of great art. --Ray Olson