[Saturday Reads] The Mystery of Human Civilization Unraveled through Art in Nicolas De Crecy’s “Glacial Period”

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Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just booklove miscellany in general.

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I am glad to share this graphic novel which I feel tap into the mysteries of human civilization in what I would assume to be a post-apocalyptic society – at least in Europe – definitely not Southeast Asian, what with all the snow.

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Glacial Period

Written and Illustrated by: Nicolas De Crecy
Published by: Comics Lit, Louvre Editions, 2006
Book borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.

I was especially taken by An Enchantment: A Graphic Poem which I featured for our Crazy for Comics Reading Theme and upon discovering that there is actually a comics lit series published by the Louvre, I immediately reserved the remaining one that is currently available in our public library.

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Unlike An Enchantment which was love at first sight for me, this one took a little bit of getting used to. I nearly abandoned it in the beginning as I had virtually no idea where the story was headed. There was a sentient pig that acted like a dog and has the power of speech to boot. The setting is in a desolate cold wasteland and the characters seemed unappealing (at least for me). I find that as I grow older and read more books, I rapidly lose patience with narratives that do not clearly bring me someplace where my senses could find a bit of rest. I flipped through the last page, hoping for some kind of illumination with an Author’s Note perhaps – but no such luck, there wasn’t any. I had to navigate this unfamiliar terrain on my own.

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It turns out that this is a team of archaeologists in search of ruins/artifacts that would help them piece together what the previous civilization was like. And yes, there is also inter-species love – but it seems hopelessly unrequited, despite Hulk’s (the name of the dog-pig) eloquence and his legendary powers that could sniff out signs of life once lived.

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Of course it came as no surprise that the group chanced upon this ruin which contained our civilization’s greatest art pieces – it is the heart of the Louvre itself! One of the team members articulated how the lewd imagery could provide them with clues about the kind of society humans once had:

The elements are falling into place: this society was non-literary, as you said, Ma’am, but I’d go farther… Non-literate in the sense of analphabetic but literate via imagery. An alphabet of images. They all make sense each in relationship to the other. They teach us as much as archives do.

And so the group proceeds to make inferences about our sense of morality through these paintings found in the Louvre:

IMG_6604… the significance of water and what womanity possibly stood for:

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and the presence of monsters:

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Needless to say, this is an exquisitely-illustrated graphic novel. But like most things that attempt to be high-brow, it’s an acquired taste. Not for everyone perhaps, but I did enjoy myself eventually in the end – as reality and myth blended together in an Anubis-like form in the end. I liked how different, surreal, and strange everything was. Find it and let me know what you think.

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Nominated for an Eisner Award 2007 – Best Painter

#AWBRead2015 Update: 101 (35)

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