Miss Don’t Touch Me

Written by Hubert
Art by Kerascoet
96 pages, color
Published by NBM

One of the nice things about NBM’s program of translating foreign comics into English is that often they will combine two 48-page albums into one 96-page volume. That’s definitely to the advantage of Miss Don’t Touch Me, because it means that you get the entire story in one fell swoop instead of having to track down two separate books. In the case of Miss Don’t Touch Me, the second half is just different enough from the first that it’s an interesting experience having the two combined into one omnibus.

Blanche and Agatha are sisters, working as maids in exchange for room and board in 1930s Paris. When fun-loving Agatha is off living it up on the town, though, Blanche witnesses a murder. Even worse, an attempt to silence Blanche backfires and kills Agatha instead, leaving Blanche with a thirst for revenge on the mysterious figure known as the "Butcher of the Dances" who kills young innocent women. When she goes undercover at a high-end brothel, though, it’s the introduction to a completely different level of society for poor innocent Blanche.

Miss Don’t Touch Me is a strange book, there’s no doubt about that. The first half of the book is a mixture of mystery (who’s killing the women of Paris?) and fish-out-of-water (virginal Blanche works in a brothel as a dominatrix), and while the two come close to fitting together perfectly, there’s always a slight gap between the two. Maybe it’s because Blanche’s investigations never seem quite satisfactory; she’s certainly trying but not really succeeding. When the second half of the book comes around, Hubert clearly has had second thoughts about Blanche as well, moving a minor character into a co-starring role and being the one person who seems to really figure out everything that’s going on. Blanche is almost more of a pawn in the second half of Miss Don’t Touch Me, her effectiveness being lessened with each page. This is where NBM’s omnibus format really comes in handy, though; by presenting the entire story as one book, the shift doesn’t seem as strange or abrupt as it certainly would have in two volumes, and there’s no worry of people buying a second book only to discover the protagonist from the first book isn’t in it as much as they’d have suspected.

I do quite like Kerascoet’s art; I first encountered it in Dungeon Twilight from NBM, but in many ways I think I like parts of Miss Don’t Touch Me‘s art even more. Blanche in her flapper outfit is absolutely adorable, with her big hat and short bob. Kerascoet uses a sparse number of lines to draw the characters, here, and they fit the time period that they’re supposed to be portraying, perfectly. I also have to give Kerascoet for being able to bring out so much of the characters in Miss Don’t Touch Me by their visual appearances; from Annette’s meek and innocent face to the scheming Holly’s baleful glares and looks that she she shoots at Blanche. A lot of the supporting cast at the brothel don’t get much attention in the foreground, but Kerascoet makes each of them look distinct and unmistakable.

Miss Don’t Touch Me is a bit of an oddity when it’s all said and done, between its shifting protagonists, two different styles, and a thoroughly bleak ending. I’m glad I read it, but I can’t help but wonder how others will feel about it when they finish its pages. I suspect most readers, like myself, will end up feeling a little perplexed when it’s all said and done. If that’s what Hubert and Kerascoet were going for, then I applaud them mightily. It’s definitely not a book I’ll forget easily.

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

6 comments to Miss Don’t Touch Me

  • Martin Costello

    According to the websit http://www.bdtheque.com, three volumes in this series have been released back in France, with another two planned.

  • Jonathan Warner

    I loved this! I must say that I was a bit wrong-footed by the bleak ending, but then that’s art – it’s more interesting when it subverts your expectations.

    I don’t think this is set in the 1930s – it all looks 1920s to me, with Josephine Baker appearing (as a male transvestite!!!) and Louise Brooks, in the form of Blanche, with her skinny flapper looks and her bobbed hair. In fact the whole setting – ingenue in a brothel – looks like it was lifted from a Louise Brooks film, “Diary of a Lost Girl.”

  • Johannah

    I loved this book. I disagree with several points in this review. First, I do not think that Miss Jo (who is a transexual female Jonathan, not a male transvestite), was ever intended to be just a minor character. I feel that this is one of the best representations of a transexual character I have seen in a comic book or otherwise. Second, I would also disagree that Blanche’s investigation is weakened or goes nowhere. She gets her revenge by killing two of the people responsible for Agatha’s murder and the photos that miss Jo gives her at the end surely leave the possibility for further revenge open.

  • liim

    josephine baker was a nice touch. but what i did like was the tightness and flow of the storytelling. a comics artist like me cannot get enough of that. the ending was confusing for blanche and bleak for anette…
    but seriously, the storytelling flows masterfully. i love this.
    i do have to ask…was it really necessary to have blanche be so murderous? she kills two characters in cold blood and literally stabs her own hand to get somebody fired. with a dirty fork. (fuck)

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