Paris at the turn of the century. A city bursting with artistic talent, but also a city with secrets to cover up too.
After the shocking events of last issue, it is no wonder that our main player, Marcel, has forgone his artistic pursuits for the role of art critic instead. An art critic not afraid to upset up and coming painters of the turn-of-the-century artistic community of Paris. Indeed, the opening panel sees him cast off the emerging Art Nouveau move movement as nothing more than a “reactionary style” before being accosted by some young upstart called Picasso. He may not have the supernatural powers of Basil Hallward, but Marcel certainly has a power in his criticism, that’s for sure.
The Paris writer Dan Watters and artist Kishore Mohan depict is one familiar to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Impressionist movement and in particular the paintings and subject matter of Edgar Degas. One cannot set a story in Paris without an obligatory shot of the Eiffel Tower, itself a relatively fresh new construct at the time of our story, but there are sightings of the infamous Moulin Rogue as well as scenes that Degas himself could be sitting in on and observing from just off panel. Although the absinthe drinkers of this issue are not so melancholy as the young woman of Degas’ masterpiece. It’s a very well researched book and highly evocative of the era.
Of course, the use of watercolours as the art style of choice is highly appropriate for this comic and lends the whole endeavour a sense of style appropriate for the theme, characters and era it’s exploring.
The absinthe swigging subjects of The Picture of Everything Else #2, to which I refer, are Marcel and Alphonse. Two friends who have not seen each other for quite some time. While Marcel has turned his back on painting, Alphonse continues to learn at the foot of Basil Hallward, who should be dead long before he even set foot in the city of love if Oscars Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is the driving influence behind this series. Although this is a mystery Watters and Mohan will get to eventually, I am told.
This is a story about obsession. But, in Marcel, of temperance too. Not giving into your demons. And while Basil Hallward is presents, it is not his story (yet) that you will be drawn to. For now, Marcel seem to do well to turn his back on temptation, even if it costs him a relationship. But, with his friendship with Alphonse picked up again, I can only fear the worse.
The Picture of Everything Else #2 avoids the overtly gothic in this sophomore issue, but with the return of Alphonse, one cannot help feel the darkness is about to creep back.
The Picture of Everything Else #2 is out Wednesday 17th February from Vault Comics