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Past Glories

Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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Reviewed By Jonathan Ellis

Click For Larger ImageBy Frederic Boilet
Published by Fanfare & Ponent Mon
144 pages Black & White - $ 13.99 U.S.

Having read some other reviews of this book I’ve noticed that how much you enjoy this work can really reflect your own experience with relationships. It seems that those who have loved and lost or have a past with the unattainable may treat this book with a bit more cynicism, so be warned.

Yukiko’s Spinach is a romance that takes place between two adults, not some Breakfast Club teenage attraction, but rather two lovers trying to make the best of the time they have together. This graphic novel is part love story and part affair. Yukiko is torn between two men, one whom she loves and another whom she really, really likes. This story is told by the man who loves her but whom she only likes. Yukiko’s Spinach is like a walk in a park with an old flame. A subtle love story without the trappings many other stories tend to fall into and then try to save with comedy or suspense. There’s no need for overt melodrama or unnecessary violence, Yukiko’s Spinach is a simple account of the time one man got to spend with the woman he loved… or perhaps merely desired? That’s one question you’ll find your heart and brain fighting over as you read this.

For those unfamiliar with Boilet, he is an author and mangaka who uses video and photography in creating his artwork. Boilet’s photo-realism artwork not only looks lovely but also gives the story a very unique ‘behind the camera’ perspective, actually putting the reader in the shoes of the artist. At times creating an atmosphere of voyeurism but also producing an environment that seems to simulate a direct interaction with the reader. While the use of edited photos in comic art can seem overdone, depending on the artist, this does not occur with Boilet. You can clearly see the actual effort involved here, as opposed to a simple photoshop filter.

Certainly one of the shining points of this book for me was that the story appears to take place in real time. The behind the camera perspective reinforces this but Boilet actually takes you along in the story as he lives it. The creation of the very comic you are reading actually begins its creation within the context of the very comic you are reading.

Overall, the book is quite splendid. Not only the artwork but also the perspective, HIS perspective, and the details – even the title – which is the result of a French man speaking Japanese with the inherent inability to pronounce an ‘H’ while speaking.

I certainly felt this to be one of the shining stars of the past year and look forward to what else Ponent Mon [A multi-lingual publisher] sends our way in the New Year. As for those looking for a little added incentive, check out these preview pages from Yukiko’s Spinach for an idea of what to look forward to.

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Jonathan Ellis is Co-Editor in Chief for PopImage

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E-Mail Us - Send us an e-mail commenting on this article. - Website of Artist Frederic Boilet
Ponent - Publisher of Yukiko's Spinach

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