Reviews are rolling in for Blutch’s Peplum, and they’re terrific!
At the Onion A.V. Club, comics guru Oliver Sava calls the book
a resounding success, with a bold, eye-catching trade dress and an oversized format that allows readers to savor every little detail in Blutch’s sumptuous artwork [...]
Translator Edward Gauvin does exceptional work giving the text a lyricism that matches the emotional richness of Blutch’s artwork, and Jess Johnson’s earthy lettering makes the words an organic extension of the visuals. The texture in the art is especially evocative, and Blutch gives this world a tactile quality that keeps the tone grounded as the story ventures into surreal, hallucinogenic territory [...]
Peplum is an object of both beauty and terror. The artistry on display in these pages is astounding, and hopefully it won’t be another three years until more of Blutch’s library makes its way overseas.
In Canada’s own Globe and Mail, Sean Rogers says
The 1997 sword-and-sandal epic Peplum, by the furiously inky artist known as Blutch, marks the first translation in the publisher’s catalogue – and thus serves as a gauntlet thrown down with imperious conviction. Breakneck in its pacing, allusive and rich in its classical cadences (as translated by Edward Gauvin)… [f]reely adapting passages from Shakespeare’s Caesar and Petronius’s Satyricon, Blutch draws cities like Grosz, atrocities like Goya and gardens like Matisse. Peplum’s broad strokes may thus seem familiar – the hero undergoes an odyssey where he is beset by pirates, bound by barbarians, ravaged by an Amazon and tempted away from his prize by a comely boy-servant – but the execution is all Blutch’s own, confounding and febrile, like some dream version of myth.
Douglas Rednour in The Library Journal awards Peplum a starred review:
Peplum is a visual tour de force of comics language. Blutch (aka Christian Hincker) tells a surreal adventure in the manner of Petronius’s Satyricon while using the emotional body language and panel styling of Will Eisner infused with the smooth, moving line work that powered Eric Drooker’s Flood, giving the tale a bulging musculature that would fit in well with the best films of the peplum genre. In doing so, Blutch (So Long, Silver Screen) employs the comic form to craft a story with affecting legitimacy and unexpected visual combinations that make every page a new adventure without precedent or convention.
Verdict Any reader looking for a high level of comic art will find a coliseum full of riches in Peplum.
Publisher’s Weekly says
Blutch’s art is truly exquisite, rendering battles, orgies, and conversations in dense, inky lines akin to Mattotti, but completely his own and completely haunting… The book requires rereading to grasp the scope of storytelling and linework, which is effortless enough to make the greatest American cartoonists jealous.
And in the March issue of World Literature Today, D. Eddy Emerson finds much to appreciate, ruminating thematically on form and function:
[the] dichotomy between the immediacy of the artwork and the more esoteric nature of the possible narrative mirror the two forms of love that underlie the story. The artwork is the real, tactile love that could well be lost when chasing the ideal of love, while the narratives and themes presented could just be a created fiction.