Bubbles & Gondola

By Renaud Dillies
80 pages, color
Published by NBM

Bubbles & Gondola is one of those graphic novels that fakes you out right from its cover, and never lets up in that sense until the book is over. Between the title and the glimpse of art, this looks to be an adorable (possibly children’s) book about a little mouse, perhaps named Bubbles or Gondola, and his exciting adventures. Readers might be a little startled, then, to instead find a graphic novel about a mouse named Charlie suffering from loneliness and depression while working as writer. Fortunately, once you get past the surprise, it’s a rather nice book.

There’s all sorts of imagery packed into Bubbles & Gondola, from the bird named Solitude that only Charlie the Mouse can see, to a climax at a masked-parade à la Carnival. Renaud Dillies, though, never lets up or stops impressing you as a reader. Some of the illustrations, like Charlie zooming on a little boat across the moon, are jaw-droppingly beautiful, and the masked-parade is full of great shapes and designs that you can stare at for hours. While Charlie himself comes off a bit of a sad sack early on, I found that by the midpoint of Bubbles & Gondola I’d genuinely come to care about him and his plight. This is a book that’s as much a treatise on what it’s like to be an artist (of any medium) as it is about the sapping nature of depression, and I think Dillies manages to get his points across strongly on both subjects. This was an unexpected little surprise; it’s not what you might think, but it turns out to be much better.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

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