Good News And Bad News About Andi Watson’s ‘The Book Tour’

by Richard Bruton

Andi Watson has long been one of my favourite artist/writers with such fabulous books as Glister, Breakfast Afternoon, Little Star, Love Fights, and Dumped, all examples of an incredibly talented creator at the height of his powers. He’s also produced some inventive, fun, and funny all-ages books in the Gum Girl series and Princess Decomposia & Count Spatula. You could definitely argue that his exposure over in the US has been less than it really should be, with books such as Skeleton Key from Slave Labor, various Buffy tales from Dark Horse, Namor, and 15 Love from Marvel.

And now there’s some good news and bad news about Watson’s very latest graphic novel release, The Book Tour. The good news, obviously, is that there’s a new graphic novel released from Andi Watson. But, unfortunately, the bad news is that, so far, it’s only available, from Éditions Cà et Là, in French, as La Tournee.

This is both a wonderful and terrible thing. Obviously, wonderful that a cartoonist as skilled, stylish, and talented as Watson is getting the attention he deserves in French-speaking lands. But terrible that we’re (and by we I do mean ME, ME, ME) not getting the chance to read the latest work by a fabulous Brit cartoonist.

Responding on Facebook to Charles Vess’ question about an English-language version, Watson says that, “Feelers are being put out, talks are taking place, I hope we’ll see an English language version at some point in the near future”. But, unfortunately, Watson’s already had one graphic novel from Éditions Cà et Là, Living Arrangements (Points de chute) in 2016, which still has no English translation available. Frankly, that one of the UK’s best cartoonists finds it easier to be published in Europe says something very bad about UK comics.

Just from the little I’ve seen so far, it looks like a fabulous book, with Watson’s style more relaxed and open than it’s been before, reminiscent in the way he takes his line walking of Jules Feiffer (yes, I really do think Watson deserves mention in such heady company – he’s one of the best).

It also looks like it’s a bizarre, somewhat surreal, and funny book, focusing on an author’s disastrous signing tour for his new book that, somehow, manages to get said author investigated for murder.

Hopefully there will be news very soon regarding the English language release of La Tournee / The Book Tour. But, in the meantime, here’s that publisher copy, followed by some of Watson’s gorgeous artwork for The Book Tour.

The new book by Andi Watson, which first appears in France, is a little gem of black humor in retro graphic style. We follow with delight the setbacks of this author facing a situation where everything escapes him, a Kafkaesque story, which takes a surreal turn as problems pile up on the way to Fretwell.

GH Fretwell, a little author of little-known novels, lives in a small English town, with his wife, Rebecca, who does not pay much attention to him. His new novel, Sans K, has just been released and Fretwell is embarking on a bookstore dating tour to promote it. More or less well received in the bookshops of his circuit, Fretwell never succeeds in signing any book and spends days walking up and down alleys to find his way. Abandoned by his editor, he looks forward to the publication of a review of Sans K in the literary section of a major daily, something that will never come.

Fretwell’s troubles begin when he is questioned by the police about a stolen suitcase because his circuit is strangely similar to that of the “Slayer Killer”, a serial killer who is rampant at this time. Fretwell will gradually understand that the police suspect him.

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