Monday, September 04, 2006

18. Tramp by Kraehn and Jusseaume

Tramp 1 cover pictureWritten by Jean-Charles Kraehn drawn by Patrick Jusseaume

Tramp is a 4-album dark and sombre noir/adventure taking place in the shipyards, ports and seas of post WWII Atlantic Ocean. It's about a ship owner in financial trouble, with a dying daughter, who plans an immoral and desperate scheme to buy a barely serviceable cargo ship and blow it up for the insurance. He hires a young, competent captain who is having trouble getting any work because of a scandal during the war. The captain doesn't know about the plan and is grateful for the opportunity, though due to his experiences, naturally wary.

Tramp 1 cover picture

Before leaving, he begins seeing the ship owner's secretary and they fall in love. She accidently discovers the plan but gets found out and is brutally raped and tortured by the tough and rotten first mate (first mates are often tough and rotten, aren't they? How about Allen, Captain Haddock's old nemesis?). The young captain leaves with the ship anyways, suspicious and heartbroken, but not realizing his new love's death was connected in any way to him or the ship he is piloting. There are of course plenty of clues and machinations in motion to get him involved and this is what drives the majority of the story.

Tramp 1 cover picture

The art is great, really capturing the grey sea and sky, the rusted metal and wet wood of industrial ports, the desperate, hard nature of the people who survive off the economy around them. Though it is very noir in tone and design, ultimately, like many french BDs, it is an adventure. There is a lot of action and the ending is particularily spectacular. The protagonist gets into some serious shit! There are also a great cast of secondary characters: sleazy south american guides/middlemen, wealthy arms dealers, ex-nazi submarine crews, east african prostitutes. It's very similar in many ways to a Desmond Bagley novel.

This is what I really love about the BDs. They are arty and self-conscious, but they really like to tell a good story and they like cool, badass stuff. But they do it intelligently and beautifully and they don't pull their punches. It makes for a gritty, gripping and very satisfying read. Very cool. Strongly recommended. I wish they would translate these things so everyone could read them.

Tramp 1 cover picture


Unknown said...

Excellent find. Did you get these from the library as well? I would love to have a look at them in english.

OlmanFeelyus said...

All of them are from the library. I'm hitting the local branch now, that in some ways is actually better stocked than the bibliotheque nationale (easier to find complete sets). There are so many comics to read!