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Ordinary Victories: What is Precious

by Manu Larcenet

Publisher: NBM

Format: Softcover, 7 x 9, full color, $15.95

ISBN: 978-1-56163-533-7

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly

Completing the story that began with the award-winning Ordinary Victories (2005), this album from French-Belgian Larcenet shows depressive, panic-prone photographer Marco continuing to search for reasons to stay alive. The overall style resembles that of Herge's Tin-Tin: realistic setting (though sketched rather roughly) through which cartoony characters move. Larcenet's characters, however, resemble the Peanuts cast—if readers can imagine a shaggier, big-nosed Charlie Brown trying to cope with his father's suicide, his girlfriend's need to have a baby and his sense of political irrelevance. Marco tries to do right by his family responsibilities while discovering how his photos honorably testify to the value of his subjects so that his profession has significance. The story doesn't tie things up neatly by giving one pat solution to the question of why we should go on living. Instead, it accomplishes something that comics can do especially well by juxtaposing bits of life, panels that celebrate happiness next to ones drenched in anger, necessary solitude balanced by companionship. By uniting those conflicting images together within himself, Marco discovers the strength to go on. This is a subtle, powerful work, using the tools of comic art beautifully.