The front cover of Grandville, the first volume the Grandville series.
|Publisher||Jonathan Cape (UK)
Dark Horse Comics (US)
Comma 22 (Italy)
Jemma Press (Greece)
Comics Centrum (Czech Republic) Darkwood (Serbia)
Date(s) of publication
|15 October 2009 - present|
Grandville is a British graphic novel series written and drawn by Bryan Talbot. It is a mixture of the steampunk, alternative history and thriller genres. It is set in a world in which France won the Napoleonic Wars and invaded Britain, and in which the world is populated mostly by anthropomorphic animals. The main character is Detective Inspector Archibald "Archie" LeBrock of Scotland Yard, a British anthropomorphic badger.
The plot of the first book, entitled Grandville and published on 15 October 2009, sees LeBrock investigating a murder which leads him to visit "Grandville" (Paris) in order to solve the crime, which itself leads him to uncover a political conspiracy. In the second volume, Grandville Mon Amour, was published on 2 December 2010, LeBrock attempts to track down an escaped serial killer that he previously brought to justice. Grandville Bête Noire was published in 2012. A further two volumes are planned; the fourth will be titled Grandville: Nöel.
Talbot writes in his book that Grandville is inspired by the work of Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard, who worked under the name J.J. Grandville, and Albert Robida. He states he is also inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rupert Bear and Quentin Tarantino. References are made to them in the book. For example, there is a building called "Robida Tower" and an early scene set in England takes place in a village called "Nutwood", the setting of the Rupert Bear stories.
Grandville makes several references to modern day political events. There are references to the War on Terror, weapons of mass destruction and the September 11 attacks. There are also references to other works, such as The Adventures of Tintin. The second book, Grandville Mon Amour is based on the themes of terrorism, the third Grandville Bete Noir has a science fiction theme. The fourth book will feature a religious conspiracy and the fifth will have a gangster theme.
Grandville is set in a steampunk world, featuring steam powered road vehicles, air transport, robots (known as "automatons"), telephones (known as "voicepipes") and televisions. Although the setting strongly resembles the Belle Époque era at the end of the 19th century, the period is approximately the present day, 200 years after the Napoleonic Wars.
In this world, Britain lost the war with Napoleon, was invaded by France and the British Royal Family were guillotined. However, twenty-three years before the start of the series, Britain was given independence following "a prolonged campaign of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings." A consequence of some 180 years of French rule is that English only survives in rural communities, with the main language spoken in Britain being French.
Following independence, Britain became "The Socialist Republic of Britain" and is now linked to the French Empire by the Channel railway bridge. However, a considerable degree of animosity remained between French and British people. Paris, the capitol of the French Empire, is the biggest city in the world, known by the nickname of "Grandville".
The vast majority of individuals in Grandville are anthropomorphic animals. Humans do exist, having evolved in Angoulême. They are referred to by the French as "doughfaces" and have never gained citizens' rights. They are thought less intelligent and are mostly menial workers. They are not allowed passports to travel abroad and so are unfamiliar to many British. A sub-plot of the third book involves a growing human civil-rights movement.
Detective Inspector LeBrock
The main character in the series is Detective Inspector Archibald "Archie" LeBrock, a large, heavily built badger. He works for Scotland Yard and is assisted by Detective Roderick Ratzi, a dapper, monocle-wearing rat.
In the comics it is revealed that, as a youth, he was part of a British resistance group known as the "Brixton Irregulars". In his early years in the police he was previously married for two years to another badger, Florence, who was murdered by the psychopathic Cray twins.[Note 1] LeBrock killed one twin, Eugene, in revenge and in the line of duty. The other twin, Stanley, was jailed but it is mentioned in Grandville: Bête Noire that he is soon to be released. LeBrock had two children, boy and girl twins, from Florence. They both live in Cumberland with LeBrock's mother and uncle for safety. In the original Grandville book LeBrock falls in love with Sarah Blairow, a badger performer at the Folies Bergère, who is murdered in the first book. He then falls in love again, with Billie, a prostitute, in Grandville: Mon Amour because of her strong resemblance to Sarah.
The first book was released in October 2009 as a hardback, published in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape and in the United States by Dark Horse Comics. The second book was published in December 2010.
|Volume name||Release date||Plot||Book cover|
|Grandville||15 October 2009||Following the murder of British diplomat Raymond Leigh-Otter, LeBrock and Ratzi travel to Paris in order to find the killer. During their investigation they uncover a political conspiracy to start a new war between Britain and France.|
|Grandville Mon Amour||2 December 2010||Three weeks after the events of Grandville, LeBrock learns that old adversary, serial killer Edward "Mad Dog" Mastock (previously a hero of the British Revolution), has escaped from the Tower of London moments before his execution for murdering several prostitutes. After being told he is off the case due to his long absence, LeBrock quits his job to track down Mastock himself.|
|Grandville Bête Noire||9 December 2012||Ten weeks prior to the story, France experienced a revolution following the death of Emperor Napoleon XII and is now ruled by a Revolutionary Council. A cabal of industrialists and fat cats, led by the toad Baron Krapaud, secretly plot a violent counter-revolution using horribly beweaponed, automaton soldiers. Meanwhile, LeBrock and Ratzi are asked by a friend in the French police to come to Paris to help investigate the murder of a Parisian artist, mysteriously stabbed to death in his locked and guarded studio.|
|Grandville: Nöel||(November 2014)||With his trusty adjunct, Detective Sergeant Ratzi, away for Christmas, there's no holiday for Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard as he embarks on an investigation into the disappearance of his housekeeper's niece, Bunty Spall.
The trail leads to a growing religious cult, where a charismatic unicorn messiah and his con men cronies, already responsible for mass murder in the United States, are about to lead a crusade for the ethnic cleansing of the French Empire's doughfaces - the derogatory nickname for humans used by the majority, animal-headed population. Teaming up with Chance Lucas, a gun-slinging operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and reigniting his steamy love affair with the voluptuous Parisian badger prostitute Billie, LeBrock clashes with both cult fanatics and doughface terrorists, uncovering in the process a centuries-old religious conspiracy that threatens to plunge the world into bloody civil war.
Grandville has received positive reviews. Ryan Agee from The Skinny gave Grandville four out of five stars, writing: "Corny puns abound, but this is a stunningly well drawn book with a compelling mystery, and a great detective team at it's [sic] heart. Great stuff." Neel Mukherjee in The Times was also positive saying: "It's a playful, allusive book in which there's a witty touch or deliciously knowing in-joke on almost every page: the French press whipping up Anglophobia; LeBrock's Holmes-like unpacking of apparently innocent signs, which yield vital information, when he makes his first appearance; the drug-addled Milou/Snowy, dreaming of plotlines of Tintin books in his opium-induced stupors. The numerous fight sequences are simply cracking, especially the beautifully rendered sprays of blood and, throughout, the glossy gorgeousness fills your eyes." Rich Johnston from Bleeding Cool wrote that: "I love this comic. It's big, bold, brash, insanely detailed and has badgers torturing frogs. There are steam powered carriages and robots, gratuitous violence, big explosions, lots of kicking, a decent ending and Inspector LeBrock finding himself a long, long way from Wind In the Willows. It can be appreciated on so many levels and with so many potential fanbases basically performing bukkake upon the pages, it should appeal to a lot of people. Even those who have a problem with a talking snobby French fish butler with legs. Also, don't try to work out the evolutionary timelines. It will just mess with your head. But do enjoy."
Joe McCulloch from The Savage Critics was less positive however, writing: "This doesn't automatically lend itself to a tremendous amount of depth, frankly, and the somewhat stale, vengeful nature of Talbot's plot leaves it teetering on the edge of embarrassing-silly instead of fun-silly."
Grandville Mon Amour was reviewed by Michael Moorcock for The Guardian, who said "[a]lthough Talbot's narratives lack the complexity or originality of Alan Moore's, he brings a rare subtlety, even beauty, to his medium. His drawing is first class and his dialogue superb, adding credibility to his characterization while moving the story along at a laconic lick."
- A reference to the real-life Kray twins
- "Grandville". The Official Bryan Talbot Website. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Talbot (2009), p.10
- "Review of Grandville by Bryan Talbot". The Official Bryan Talbot Website. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Manning, Shaun (25 August 2010). "Bryan Talbot's "Grandville Mon Amour"". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- "An interview with Benjamin Berton". The Official Brian Talbot Website. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- Talbot (2009), p. 17
- Talbot (2009), p. 19
- Talbot (2012), p. 60
- Talbot, Byran (6 December 2012). 'Grandville: Bête Noire. Grandville 3. Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-59582-890-3.
- Talbot (2012), p. 95
- Talbot (2009), p. 74
- Agee, Ryan (12 October 2009). "Grandville by Bryan Talbot". The Skinny. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Mukherjee, Neel (14 November 2009). "Grandville by Bryan Talbot and Stitches: A Memoir by David Small". The Times. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- Johnston, Rich (August 11, 2009). "Review: Grandville By Bryan Talbot". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- McCulloch, Joe (October 8, 2009). "The Political Fursona". The Savage Critics. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- Moorcock, Michael (December 11, 2010). "Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot – review". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- "2013 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- The Grandville homepage at Bryan Talbot's official website
- Bryan Talbot explains his artwork on Grandville, in Italian and English