Monday, November 22, 2010

Graphic Novel Monday: REVIEW: Ruts and Gullies, by Philippe Girard

Ruts and Gullies: Nine Days in Saint Petersburg, by Philippe Girard. Published 2010 by Conundrum Press. Graphica. Memoir.

Well, how long has it been since I did a graphic novel review? Ages.

This one is the story of a Canadian comics artist named Philippe Girard and the nine days he spent with his friend Jimmy Beaulieu in Saint Petersburg, Russia, touring around and meeting with other comics artists from all over the world. It's cute.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about this book. The art is kind of bland. With a travelogue, one hopes for art that makes the place portrayed come alive; I want to see architecture, pretty scenes, something to bring me into the place. I didn't really get that here. Also, there is no translation offered for the occasional Romanized and Cyrillic Russian speech and signage; I can read Russian well enough to puzzle out street signs and simple things but I would have liked the dialogue to be at least translated into English. There isn't a lot of Russian in the book, but I just wish that what there was, had been translated, even as a footnote.

Read as part of Russo-Biblio-Exravaganza
That said, there's still a lot to like about Ruts and Gullies. Girard writes a pretty fun, light, engaging story about his time in Russia, very fish-out-of-water, and there are some real laughs to be had. He portrays his hosts with warmth and affection. I got a sense of the culture in terms of the people if not in terms of the sights and sounds, which is probably more important anyway. I love the "twenty Russian minutes" expression he comes up with to describe how long it takes to do anything, go anywhere, etc., in this strange and unfamiliar country. He really captures what it feels like to feel at sea in a new world.

So yeah, cute and light but not the best or deepest book I've ever read. But it's a good read and I think it would appeal to newer graphic novel readers and anyone interested in Russia.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.