167 Jay’s Favorites of 2010: Werewolves Of Montpellier
Lest people think my attack on Bigfoot was because of it’s “cutesy” factor– and not what I found to be problems in the writing– I bring to you my second choice for best of 2010: Werewolves Of Montpellier by Jason.
So much has already been written about Jason’s simplistic yet elegant style of drawing and writing that it’s daunting to me to try to add anything to the subject. But I don’t have to: this was one of my favorites last year, and I just have to tell you why.
[Spoilers ahead, if thats the kind of thing you're worried about in a Jason comic.]
The title refers to in Montpellier, France, where the main character Sven lives as a thief who dresses up as a werewolf. He does this so that, if luck may have it that he’s caught in the act, people would be so scared at seeing a werewolf they wouldn’t react to the thievery going on in front of them. All fine, until he draws attention to himself by getting his picture published in the paper.
One night he runs into a werewolf on the rooftops, which confuses the both of them. A brawl ensues and the werewolf falls off the rooftop, hereby setting Sven directly in sites of the city’s other werewolves.
(It should be noted that the Werewolves in this story are more or less just dudes who turn into werewolves every full moon, not uncontrollable beast creatures with a blood lust. Just dudes. Dudes who get all fangy and hairy, but more or less just dudes.)
This being a Jason book, the premise is only a backdrop to the real story: a love story between Sven and his lesbian neighbor, Audrey.
When not stealing jewels he pals around with Audrey, draws vignettes of the city and plays chess with his buddy Igor. Sven is kind of withdrawn, but not in a creepy way– more of a cautious way. He’s a pretty enjoyable guy, doing kind of mundane activities by day, which I assume levels him out from his crazy full moon jaunts as a fake werewolf.
Not wanting to ruin the ending of the story, I would like to focus on why, for me, this was one of the best books of last year.
In the middle of the story, Sven meets one of Audrey’s friends Celine at a party, thrown by Audrey. The two get along, and so Audrey forces Sven to ask Celine out on a date. Sven goes to Celine’s house, where they end up smooching. Celine stops him.
“You’re in love”, she says to Sven. Sven responds: “I am?” Celine takes his hand. “With her. That’s not going to work you know.”
Sven nods. “I know,” he says, as he gets up and leaves.
This one page of the book moved me. When I’m reading, or watching a movie, I tend to drag my personal history into it. It plays on my ability to properly critique, sometimes. But I think the reason stories work in general is because they essentially tell a universal truth that people can relate too, or, minimum, accept as true for that character, even if they disagree. For me, that one page stung a little. I’ve had the experience of going out with a girl, and having her see right through me. She was smart enough to call it quits, too. I was reading a comic, the truth of that moment dragged me out, put me into my own history, then I came back to the story more intensely than I would have imagined when I picked the book up.
Werewolves of Montpellier has a couple of other moments like this as well. A lot of Jason books tend to do this to me: I’ll be in the middle of some ridiculous story about werewolves, or time traveling to kill Hitler, and in the middle of it I get dragged out and remember a stupid or wonderful moment in my own life. Which is kind of wonderful writing, in my opinion.
1.I have been plagued for about two months now about an ending to a script, that will effect the beginning of the script, when I am not writing these things, I am contemplating driving my car into a wall in hopes that it will kick start my horrid brain into some ending I can live with.
I just wanted you to know how I suffer. I’m like an artist and shit.
2.Soundtrack to this writing was a compilation called “All Tore Up: unrequited love, Tormented Romance, Tragedy and Tear Jerkers 1955-1968” which is just the most amazing songs from the blues and funk end of the musical spectrum Songs with grown men sobbing into the mic about love gone bad, hearts buried. Woman who were done wrong, and moving on. Singing out their hearts even though they effectively don’t have one anymore. It’s oddly not depressing. More of a “Better you than me” thing going on.