Mummies and fathers complicate a love story that spans centuries in this gorgeously illustrated fable.
Originally published in French in 1997, this English translation highlights the playful collaboration of two masters of the graphic narrative, with Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat, 2005) providing the story and Guibert (Sardine in Outerspace 1 and 2, both 2006, illustrated by Sfar) the colorful, impressionistic visuals. The elegantly slim volume details the romance of a 19th-century British professor’s daughter and the 16th-century mummy of an Egyptian emperor (a witty and erudite fellow), who is one of her father’s prized possessions. The daughter is one of her father’s prized possessions as well, thus rendering their illicit relationship all the more problematic. The mummy’s attempt to live with his lover in her world results in an afternoon of mayhem and perhaps even murder, so they try to return to his world, with equally disastrous results. A trial highlights class inequities in Victorian England, while the Queen herself makes a brief (and soggy) appearance. Ultimately, a climactic encounter between the mummy’s estranged father and the professor gives the finale a surprising, satisfying twist.
No glorified comic book, this graphic novel aspires to fine art.