Advance Review: ‘Paris’ By Andi Watson And Simon Gane – Développé, Amélioré, Mais Toujours Une Romance Magnifique

by Richard Bruton


In Paris, two women, who couldn’t be more different, find love and freedom amongst the art and beauty of the most romantic city in the world. It’s as beautiful and enchanting as falling in love should be and this newly expanded Image Comics edition of Andi Watson and Simon Gane’s work gives fresh new life to as perfect a love story as you could read.


Oh Paris, with all that sense of romance and mystery, the impossibly attractive people, the beauty of the surroundings, the little cafe bars with beautiful people sipping on espressos and Gitane smoke blowing in the wind. And as it is in the city, so it is in the comic.

Originally published all the way back in 2005 by Slave Labor, Paris is now re-released in a beautifully re-mastered and expanded edition by Image Comics – and it’s a grand thing that they’ve done, as this is just one of those absolutely perfect love stories that comics really should do so much more of.

Andi Watson and Simon Gane have crafted something unmistakably cool, elegantly beautiful and full of the romance and mystery of the city this is both named for and set in. To only add to the whole bohemian nature of the book, setting this in Paris of the 1950s just lends itself to even more coolness, the jazz clubs, the gorgeous clothes, the style, effortless, incredible.

As far as the two leads in this perfect romance tale are concerned, it’s a simple tale of girl meets girl…

First there’s Juliet, a penniless American art student, struggling to get by in Paris but so in love with the ideas of freedom, possibility and imagination that Paris at the time just seems to be drowning in. Unfortunately for Juliet, she has to make ends meet by accepting commissions to paint “precious little Daddy’s girls because they won’t allow a man to stare at their pretty little bodies.”

And then there’s Deborah, one of those “precious little Daddy’s girls” that Juliet is commissioned to paint, a rich English socialite spending her summer in Paris.

But Deb’s Parisien experience is vastly different to Juliet’s. She’s a virtual prisoner here, both constrained by her very British upbringing and practically confined in her luxurious suite in the Hotel Anglais. With her over-bearing, foreigner-hating chaperoning Aunt (‘Chap’) and never allowed out to experience the Paris she is longing to see, Deborah’s life is one of privilege without experience.

Just as in love with art and the wonder of Paris as Juliet, Deborah simply cannot find a way to get out from chap’s glare; “It’s torture for me. Here I am, my first time in Paris, and even the horse paintings won’t tempt her into the Louvre.”

So Deborah has to sit in the hotel, surrounded by little England, listening to Chap and other ex-pats moaning about the tea and wishing for their return to Blighty and the start of the hunting season.

Of course, when Juliet waltzes into the Anglais to paint Deborah, Chap instantly despises her – American AND poor – why, the tawdriness of it all.

But at least Chap leaves the two alone, and it’s then that the magic of Paris starts to develop, with Deborah confiding in Juliet and an obvious connection between the mismatched pair leading to a smitten Juliet to wander away from this unexpected meeting head over heels in love.

With the arrival of Deborah’s brother, the pair have their chance to meet under more relaxed circumstances, full of art in the Louvre and Jazz and dancing in the Latin Quarter, where Juliet discovers that the attraction may be mutual after all.

But of course, true love, even in the most romantic city in the world, is never one to run smooth and Debs is soon on a boat for England, back to the dismal weather, dull middle England existence, and engaged to a man she barely knows. Meanwhile, Juliet finds herself lost, alone in a Paris that suddenly is completely lacking in colour, life and love.

But fear not, I doubt I’ll spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the book by telling you that love will find a way. Which is of course, exactly as it should be in any good romance. This is a romance made wonderful not because it’s doing anything different, it’s made wonderful because it does it in the classic sense, hitting all the obvious and expected beats of the A-B-C of romantic storytelling. And of course, the true wonder of Paris is in the execution from both Watson and Gane.

Paris is a beautiful, understated love story, luxuriating in the surroundings, the art and the sheer experience that is Paris. Indeed, as we follow our two would-be lovers, Watson and Gane treat us to a selection of paintings as backdrops to the unfolding love story.

But Watson doesn’t rely on his surroundings to tell his story, he creates two interesting and believable characters, and makes you care about them and does that thing all the best romances do; has you wishing, hoping for love to win out in the end.

It was a strange thing for me to read this first time around, so long ago, as I loved (and still do) the work of Andi Watson, writer and artist. So, it was a difficulty imagining Watson’s story and words delivered to the comics page by another artist. But it took very few pages of reading Paris to realise that Simon Gane’s art, albeit more angular, so different to Watson’s style, was equal to Watson’s, beautiful and perfectly suited to the tale. His pages are sometimes deliberately distorted; perspective is ignored for the sake of a good scene.

Take as an example this pages, just one of several beautiful and wonderfully expressive full pages that Gane sprinkles throughout Paris. Here, a perspective correct view of the cafe bar would have never given us the detail and sheer enjoyment of the page that this layout does…

Yes, it’s a beautiful page, a wonderful and deliberate ignoring of artistic rules that only serves to make it all work perfectly. Gane, at the time of the original collection of Paris, wrote this to explain things:

“The good thing about discarding perspective and proportion is that if you fuck up, you can say it was deliberate, and even give reasons why. Um, notice how Juliet is bigger than the other figures because she’s the star of the book…? Clever, eh?”

Clever? Nah, that’s bloody incredible. And there’s that sort of cleverness and sheer beauty that you can see on page after page after page of Paris.

Gane’s art is worlds away from Watson’s of course, but it’s just as wonderful, just as perfect in describing this oh-so-perfect love story. All the way through Paris, Gane’s art shows us so much beauty and emotional range.

Take for example the moment where Juliet lovingly touches Debs for the first time, and the passion in them both, as yet unstated, unrequited, is obvious in a few perfectly placed looks and brushstrokes. Or later on, when the lovers are finally together and the motif of touching lips is repeated with such passion and intensity and sheer happiness that they’re finally together.

Paris, like everything Watson has written, is a perfect example of what a real mainstream comic book should look like. It’s a simply written delight, a romantic drama that should, in a fair and just world, be on the front stands of every book and comic store, announcing the book to the world and his wife. In Paris we have a beautifully told, beautifully written, beautifully illustrated love story. Something to make the day a touch brighter and that’s always a good thing.

As far as this new edition goes, it’s improved on every level. For a start, the original’s black and white art is much improved by pale yellow of the pages, giving the whole thing a mellowness, a relaxed feel, as you can see from the comparison below…

And Gane’s outdone himself with the new work as well, providing a new cover, new endpapers, extras, and best of all a new introductory sequence placed before the other new introductory sequence he’d already added for the Slave Labor collection in 2007.

What this means is that you really do get something cinematic in scope, Gane’s rich and beautifully detailed view of Paris and his incredible architecture, drawing us down and into the city before following Juliet as she makes her way through the streets.

The framing sequence just adds so much to the whole marvelous experience, one that I’ll end this review by showing you a few selected highlights from…

That, I know you’ll agree, is just the perfect beginning to what is something of a perfect book.

Paris, by Andi Watson and Simon Gane, is published by Image Comics in this new and expanded edition on 31st May 2022. You can, and you should, rush out to buy it as soon as you possibly can.

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