Chaland Anthology Vol. 1-2: Freddy Lombard

Written by Yves Chaland with Yann Lepennetier
Art by Yves Chaland
136 pages, color
Published by Humanoids Publishing

About three years ago, my local comic store got a huge shipment of French comic albums in. As each box was unpacked, the owner told me about the different artists that I might not have heard of before placing the books on the shelf. When he got to one box, though, he merely handed me one of each album and said, “Just take a look.” The four books were Humanoids Publishing’s Chaland Intégrale collections, and in just a matter of moments I could see just why he’d ordered them. Hopefully, now that they’re in English, a lot of other people are about to discover the same thing.

Freddy Lombard and his friends Dina and Sweep are up to their usual tricks—which are good for them, if not anyone else around them. A slacker before the title was ever applied, Freddy and company stumble through life looking for free rides and often find themselves tangled up in one bad situation after another. From looking for a legendary photograph plate in an elephant’s graveyard to a kidnapping on a new plane’s maiden flight from Paris to Melbourne, they don’t just find trouble… trouble finds them.

If I had to sum up the Freddy Lombard stories as quickly as possible, it would be “what if Tintin grew up?” Like the lead character in Hergé’s famed Tintin graphic novels, Freddy Lombard travels the globe with action and adventure close behind… but there’s a more adult sort of sensibility to Chaland’s stories. Maybe it’s Freddy’s attitude of slumming his way through life, all the while still ending up in fantastic situations and adventures. Chaland’s anti-hero still brings a great deal of tension to his stories, though. The final album, F.52, was so tense that I found myself breathlessly turning the pages at 2am, unable to put the book down even though I really could have used the sleep.

As good as Chaland’s stories got the further he went along, it’s the art that had originally caught my eye. Chaland’s clean lines will once more evoke the name of Hergé. There’s a certain amount of menace that I found in Chaland, though, that I don’t remember in my friend’s Tintin albums. Maybe it’s the stories themselves, but Chaland is able to make just about any situation menacing, from a trip into the jungle to tanks rolling through Budapest. Everything is painstakingly drawn, and it’s easy to see why Chaland’s often referred to as an “artist’s artist”; the number of people who were picking the Chaland Anthology line in French who couldn’t read a single word says something about the power of Chaland’s gorgeous inks. As an added sidenote, the rich colors in these albums (especially the reds and purples) are really gorgeous, bringing an added dimension to the work.

I’m thrilled that Humanoids has translated the two Freddy Lombard volumes of the Chaland Anthology line; hopefully we’ll get the remaining two books before too long. Oversized hardcovers were made for this sort of book, letting you see all the added detail that Chaland had put into his art. Since there were only five Freddy Lombard books, the first Chaland Anthology has three albums, while the second volume has over 30 pages of bonus material, from covers and short stories to concept sketches, and all points in-between. It’s easy to see why so much love and care was put into these two volumes; hopefully, you’ll all discover it for yourselves before too long. Volumes 1 and 2 of Chaland Anthology are now in better stores everywhere.

Purchase Links:
Volume 1: Amazon.com
Volume 2: Amazon.com

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