Black Paths is a fictionalized account of the Free State of Fiume after the First World War, told mostly through the eyes of Lauriano, a young writer who suffers from his experiences in WWI, and Mina, a French cabaret singer. The book is utterly beautiful: B.'s artwork sings with the addition of color (most of his earlier work I'd encountered was in black and white only), and--as usual for him but unusually for most cartoonists--there are many passages where impressionistic images and non-standard design and layout create beautifully dream-like moments.
However, the ins and outs of political intrigue have never held much appeal to me, and such matters are the meat of this book. Perhaps I simply wasn't in the right mood when I read it, but I could never seem to connect with the narrative in a meaningful way. I am convinced that the fault lies with me, not with the cartoonist, though. One day I'll give this book another chance, which it deserves. It's a bravura exercise in cartooning, but on a subject matter I couldn't seem to relate to. This time.
by David B.
Self Made Hero, 2011
128 pages, $24.95