Review: Monsieur Jean From Bachelor to Father
Comics come is many shapes and sizes. Stories range from the absolutely outlandish tales of magic and sorcery while others are more grounded in reality. “Monsieur Jean: From Bachelor to Father” is completely grounded in real life and encompasses all the natural humor and sadness that comes with it.
“Monsieur Jean: From Bachelor to Father” tells the story of Jean, a writer in France nearing his 30th birthday and trying to finish a novel. This five part book focuses on different parts of his life. As the title indicates, we start the story when he’s a carefree single guy to a more stressed but happy dad. The entire book is connected through his personal growth but is told in these short vignettes that illustrate specific moments in Jean’s life.
Humanoids reprints European comics and that may feel like a turn off for American readers. There’s always a difference in culture and it can often come through in humor and situations characters find themselves in. Jean is the perfect literary “everyman”. He’s got dating problems, he’s got work problems, money problems, and sleep problems. Despite the culture differences, Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian write a character that applies to every person. There’s some very French moments but the core of the story is really universal. We all can find something of ourselves in Jean and that’s part of the book’s charm.
“Monsieur Jean” From Bachelor to Father” is also extremely funny. Even in the more serious storylines, such as Jean being a surrogate father to little Eugene, there’s a lot of slice of life moments. He’s dealing with an unruly kid but it’s played up for laughs all while still making some commentary on the situation itself. That’s what this book does so well, the commentary on life and the situations we find ourselves in. Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian really get into analyzing relationships and parenthood in a completely honest way. It’s rare to see that in any comic but when you add the humor (that comes so easily for these creators) you end up with something very special.
The art is very classically European. You don’t see this style in American comics. For the most part, a typical panel layout is used but there are pages (like the one featured in the article here) that are simplistic but so effective. Each page is vibrant and the way the characters are drawn are top notch. There’s a lot of emotion in each panel. With a story like this, the visual component is almost more important than the text.
“Monsieur Jean: From Bachelor to Father” is a big book but that’s the joy of it. You’re getting your money’s worth with a story that takes it’s time and delivers excellent character development and comedy. Jean is a character you’ll immediately like despite his flaws and his journey will take you back to certain moments in your life no matter how old you are. This is an excellent book that would also make a nice holiday gift.