Malaterre is the story of a man for whom nothing is ever enough, a man who holds onto a family past that never again comes to fruition. Above all, it’s the story of a family torn apart by a man’s false ambitions and his race for a success he is incapable of sustaining. The graphic novel begins at the end before showing us the origins and subsequent meanderings of this troubled man. We see him fly around the world, trying to weasel his way into the good graces of wealthy patrons in multiple countries. His family is left in the lurch, forced to deal with his constant absences and his shady behavior that eventually tears his family apart. Malaterre is part one of a family saga that is sure to have a dramatic finish.
The art style is fascinating, to say the least. The lines are aggressive and exaggerated, matching perfectly with the personality of the protagonist. He’s unpredictable and jagged around the edges, and the artist has done a great job capturing that in the art. There’s a mastery of nature in the style as well, showing the wildness of the jungle through twisted details that are both intricate and obscured. The man’s emotions are illustrated well through explosive sound bubbles and color changes.
Overall, Malaterre is an intimate portrait of a man who is a failure of a businessman, father, and friend. We see his whims thrown across the masterfully drawn panels, echoing a life filled with insecurities. I look forward to seeing how the story continues, already knowing the typical end for a not-so-typical man.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
By Pierre-Henry Gomont
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