Paris (SLG Publishing)

paris-header.jpgAndi Watson and Simon Gane spin an unconventional tale of romance against the backdrop of the most romantic city in the world.


143 pgs. B&W; $10.95

(W: Andi Watson; A: Simon Gane)


Since I’m a big fan of Andi Watson’s work, it was inevitable that his most recent collection Paris would land on my list of best books of 2007. I didn’t get a chance to review it properly until now, but it should come as no surprise that Watson once again does not disappoint, with an incredibly charming and atmospheric book featuring some of the most fantastically detailed black and white art I’ve seen in ages.

The cover to Paris by Simon Gane. Click for a larger image.If you are at all familiar with the recent works of Andi Watson, like the "opposites attract" romance of 2002’s Slow News Day or the marriage on tough times in 2001’s Breakfast After Noon, then the subject matter and tone of Paris should similarly come as no surprise. Like many of Watson’s other works, Paris is essentially a love story, this one focusing on Juliet, an American art student studying in the city of lights who is forced to paint portraits of spoiled little rich girls in order to pay her tuition. She is given yet another portraiture assignment, one she is not looking forward to until she meets her subject Deborah, a young British woman with a domineering aunt. Juliet and Deborah quickly bond, and as Juliet continues to work on the painting, her infatuation with Deborah grows.

Watson quickly demonstrates in Paris that, although he is spinning yet another tale of romance, he is able to make it unique by adding new twists to the formula. Here, Watson is dealing with a same-sex relationship, but he does not do so in such a way as to call attention to it as an "issue." He handles this subject matter with such a deft hand that Paris is, in the end, just like any other love story; it simply happens to feature two women. His handling of the class differences between Juliet and Deborah is equally subtle. At the beginning of the book, a story sequence which did not appear when the book was first published in comic form helps to establish the characters of Juliet and Deborah, each living in their separate worlds of poverty and privilege respectively, with very few words.

Interior art by Simon Gane. Click for a larger image.What really sets the story apart, however, is the incredibly striking art of Simon Gane. That Gane drew the book comes as a bit of a surprise since it’s unusual for Watson to write a story and not draw it as well, but after you read the book, it’s hard to imagine it without Gane’s influence. His visuals of the city of Paris are idealized and romantic, setting the mood of the story perfectly. Each image, many of which come in the form of perfectly rendered full page splashes, transports you to this picturesque setting and makes you feel like love is quite literally in the air. Also, because Juliet is an art student, throughout the story we see paintings by artists of bygone eras, each one painstakingly recreated by Gane in exquisite detail.

Gane is currently the artist for the new Vertigo series Vinyl Underground, which he draws in a style that is slightly more realistic than his art in Paris, but still just as beautiful. Watson meanwhile has again returned to drawing his own stories, producing an issue of the incredibly sweet children’s series Glister for Image every few months. This information should prove useful to you in the near future, because Paris is the kind of book that is so well-crafted you will not only love it, but you will instantly become a lifelong fan of everyone involved in its creation. | Steve Higgins

Click here to read a 6-page preview, courtesy of SLG Publishing!

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