Graphic Content – Alix

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
21/501Title: Alix
Creator: Jacques Martin
Year: 1948-onwards
Country: France/Belgium

After splitting my Don Quixote time between the world of physical books and audiobooks I figured that it was high time that I returned to the world of graphic fiction. It is somewhat gratifying to cross off items from this list in a few days of reading (in comparison to the length of time required for Moby Dick and War and Peace).

So the first thing we (myself and hub) have chosen to read for the next comic run is the Alix series. If you are a native English speaker it is highly likely that you have never heard of Alix. It belongs to the same stylistic family as The Smurfs, Asterix and Tintin (known as ligne clare), but it never received the same traction. In fact, most of the Alix collections have not received an English translation.

Having read a bunch of these collections it is really quite simple to pinpoint the thing that prevented Alix from crossing over into the English world: humour, or lack thereof. Now, I am not saying that every piece of graphic fiction requires laughs in order to be successful in the English world (I mean look at Road to Perdition and The Sandman) but when you have a goody-two shoes protagonist there has to be some light humour.

Actually, now that I think about it, the problem with Alix is Alix. He is a former slave who instead of returning home to Gaul and picking up his life where it was cruelly snatched away by the Romans actually starts to work for Caesar as some strange adventurer for hire. I understand the idea of him being thankful for having his life saved… but let’s not forget he was a slave for the first however many years of his life.

Also, what is with for all the fake deaths? I sweat that every 4-5 pages there was a fake out of Alix dying. The most stupid of these that I saw was in the second collection Alix and the Golden Sphinx where he fell off a cliff into a convenient pool of water. There are literally no other pools of water in this area. It just feels cheap, like how many children’s films do that death fake out at the end… just imagine this happening multiple times in the film. I actually found it hard to not side with the villains sometimes.

One thing that this comic has going for it is historical accuracy. I actually quite enjoy having a comic like this where there are real people from history interacting with each other. Leaders like Pompey, Caesar and Vercingetorix all make appearances very early on in the series with Spartacus and some historical families featuring in later editions.

I think this is where 70 years difference between initial publishing and reading it. My expectation is probably drastically different seeing how I am more used to something that is darker (like V for Vendetta) or laugh out loud funny (Nodame Cantabile), but to me this is a series that I will definitely not be completing.

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