Saturday, 14 April 2012

Graphic Novel Review: 'Afrika' by Hermann Huppen


Afrika
by Hermann Huppen

Published: March, 2012
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
Format: E-Book
Pages: 64



Art
Cover Art: I love the cover. It is simple, poignant and really reflects the tone and style of the novel as a whole.

I found the art work in this comic incredibly beautiful. The medium used appears to be watercolour and the colours really evoke a sense of Africa; earthy and neutral and yet also bright and sensual:


The animals are really captured beautifully too; the bulls haunches are shining in the sun and the tiger looks as though it is stepping out of the page. I really loved looking at the images whilst I was reading as they really added depth to the narrative.


Plot Synopsis


A misanthropic European expatriate, Dario Ferrer, acts as guardian of a Tanzanian wildlife preserve. Accompanied by Charlotte, a naive European journalist, Ferrer discovers a village under fire from mysterious agents of the foreign-backed government. Ferrer and Charlotte must fight not only to protect the preserve, but to expose government corruption - and survive to see another day.
My Rating:

Review

I really enjoyed this little comic. As I have already mentioned, the art work was lovely and the characters were really brought to life; very expressive and even though little dialogue was used for some you really got a sense of who they were (for example: Dario's 'lover' (not sure what their relationship was!) The Africa that was pictured was quite a 'Lion King' Africa; a very earthy, very wild and untamed place teeming with animals. This worked because it was set on an animal reserve- if it wasn't I would have been dubious!

The story begins in a way that we are all familiar with; an ignorant European journalist goes into the wilds of Africa and freaks out a little bit. She finds it hard to handle seeing baby hippopotamuses being ripped limb from limb by crocodiles and such like. Her sensitivity is attributed, by Dario, to the 'civilised' world that he perceives she is from which has softened her against raw, natural brutality and instead made her blind to the brutality that exists all around her amongst humans. They both see each other's worlds as savage.

Dario is a likeable character. He is very rough around the edges and doesn't say much, but he definitely gets his point across in the few words he does say! He acts tough but there is always a little tremor of emotion when he hears of animals being unnecessarily killed, whether in his ranch or another, and you can tell that underneath the tough act he is rather sweet (something we definitely discover right at the end). He cares about the planet and sneers at Charlotte (the journalist's) society which pollutes the Earth and destroys the flora and fauna that Africa is rich with. There is definitely an ecological message in there...even if he does fly around in a plane quite a lot! The parallel narrative of the fat cat government officials sitting around planning bombs and...things (I wasn't really sure to be honest...testing bombs in the animal reserves?) definitely portrayed the government as the corrupt bad guys...something I do not disagree with! People keep taking from Africa because there are no consequences- I like it that a character like Dario means there are consequences and he makes them pay for exploiting the land.

Once the action and the chase kick in I did find it quite suspenseful! As there had been some quite unforgiving and sudden violence earlier on I didn't quite know if they would live or die, which I loved. However, it does all happen quite suddenly...I think it could have been paced a little better. One moment Dario is never going to leave Africa...the next he is fleeing it without so much as a backward glance. It seemed a bit odd while I was reading it!

There are some sexy moments. Some boob displayage. Some kinky times. Personally I enjoyed it; I like my comics with extra violence and extra nakedness. It is a tad gratuitous but it does fit the plot and added extra depth to the narrative I felt so I think it was justified!

My only complaint really was the dialogue, which I felt was a little rocky and confusing at times. The same things kept being repeated in different (and not very interesting) ways such as the beauty of Africa, Dario's lover's jealousy, another man winding her up about it...it felt quite unnecessary and nothing new was really being added!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this comic and would definitely recommend it. It is short and sweet and I loved the ending. It is meaningful but not overly preachy. 4/5 Stars.



Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: I would definitely read more Hermann if it's translated into English.

Three Words to Describe this Book: Rough. Natural. Poignant.

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