We hadn’t seen that since the first volume of Wind Passengersand again, difficult to make a comparison between the album of Bud and this oppressive thriller where all shots are allowed. And we tremble all the more when we know that this maritime epic is inspired by real events as explained Xavier Dorison at our microphone, accompanied by Timothée Montaigne of course :
Let us first recall the facts: we are in 1629, as the title indicates, and the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the richest company that history has ever known, chartered the Jakarta, flagship of its immense fleet. Destination: Indonesia. Cargo: enough gold and diamonds to corrupt the Emperor of Sumatra.
On board, more than 300 people from the misery and crime of Amsterdam. And on the side of the officers, it’s not really better, it seems that only the desperate take place for this trip. Fueled by gold and the violence of the officers, the temptation of a mutiny grows, making Jakarta a veritable hotbed
A man is ready to light the fuse to feed his greed as much as his dreams of grandeur: Jeronimus Cornelius. Ruined apothecary, wanted by the Inquisition, he is the second captain. Cultivated, intelligent, charismatic, nothing and no one seems able to prevent his disastrous project of massacre and seizing power on the ship.
No one except… an unexpected guest on this dreadful journey, Lucrétia Hans. Woman of the upper middle class who must join her husband in Indonesia just after burying her last born. And Jeronimus who sees in her an object of desire and fascination. With a sailor, Hayes, this innocent lost in the middle of this hell on the sea could be the last bastion against this man who seems more psychopath than apothecary.
If the framework of this disastrous maritime voyage reminds you of anything, it is undoubtedly because Dabitch & Pendanx also devoted a series to it at Futoropolis 15 years ago. But that in no way spoils the pleasure, well let’s say rather the worried fascination that grips us when reading the first volume of this diptych called 1629. All the interest of the story lies in three or four main characters, surrounded by horrible criminals and pious (but above all candid) bourgeois.
What drives a man or a group of men to follow rules or to break them? How to push an individual to the climax of his limits, by flouting his authority, his integrity, the lack of esteem that propriety still maintains him a little, to make him or her tip over into animal madness, where reason has no out of place? These are all subjects that Xavier Dorison addresses, choosing as a setting this boat as a camera, these few hundred square meters where the rich and the poor, the valued and the upstarts, the lords and the defeated are piled up. … Until everything is reversed!
Meeting this graphic challenge required a good osmosis with the screenwriter, as well as a talent that was just waiting to explode. Two qualities united in the head of Timothée Montaignewith whom Dorison had co-directed juliusthe prequel to Third Testament.
But now, it has been almost ten years since the designer slipped into oh so deserving graphic styles, but which were not his (Julius, The Prince of the Night). We therefore feel a welcome form of graphic explosion within this maritime thriller. Whether it’s an action scene or verbal jousting, the tension culminates in the faces and gestures, enough to convey the permanent anguish of this floating coffin to the reader.
The imposing dimensions of the album contribute to this: 35 cm by 24. 136 pages bound by a hot-stamped and gilded cover to give it the look of an old book with its bookmark. The publisher therefore got in tune with its authors to provide a beautiful setting for this maritime thriller. What a good time to spend by the fire, while being transported to the other side of the globe, and at the same time in the abyssal depths of the human soul.
Interview by Charles-Louis Detournay.
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